During the intermission of IU wrestling’s Wilkinson Hall debut against Maryland, the team welcomed a group of 30 wrestling alumni down to the mat.
They greeted head coach Angel Escobedo, a former IU wrestler himself, with a flood of smiles, hugs and pictures.
Together, Hoosiers new and old celebrated the future of the program as IU snapped their Big Ten dual meet losing streak with a 36-3 win over Maryland Sunday.
Escobedo is proud of the way the now 4-7 team has competed so far this season, and has placed an emphasis on stepping up to the level of its opponents, regardless of how talented it may be.
“It sets it in their mind that we’re going out there to dominate, not just to compete,” Escobedo said. “We’re going out there to try and score bonus points and feed off of each other as teammates.”
The IU upperclassmen came out particularly strong.
Redshirt senior Jake Danishek started his matchup as the aggressor. That offensive strategy led to his 14th win of the season and his fifth pin.
Redshirt junior Norman Conley also managed a major decision victory in his match, winning 12-2.
The young guys showed up for IU as well, with several wrestlers earning decisive wins of their own. Redshirt freshman Paul Konrath’s match with Maryland freshman Orion Anderson started with a handful of stalemates.
As he grew more comfortable on the mat, Konrath finished with a 13-3 major decision win over the former New York state champion.
Redshirt freshman Kyle Luigs dominated his match as well for the Hoosiers, winning it 13-4 with a major decision.
According to Escobedo, the team was pleased with how loud and involved the fans were during competition.
“When you have a big fan base that’s willing to yell and kind of heckle the refs that makes wrestling a lot more fun,” Danishek said. “The fan base was definitely here today and we appreciate that.”
With Penn State and Rutgers both visiting Wilkinson Hall in the next few weeks, the home-gym advantage will be crucial for IU going forward.
The Hoosiers next competition is a Jan. 18 matchup at Purdue.