Three wrestlers will represent IU at the NCAA Championships this week.
The championships begin Thursday, and run through Saturday evening at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.
The competition is double-elimination, and the top eight wrestlers in each weight class will earn All-American honors.
Three hundred and thirty wrestlers qualified for the tournament, with 285 of them earning their spots automatically via performances in their respective conference tournaments. The remaining 45 wrestlers were given at-large bids from the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee.
Seniors Elijah Oliver and Bryce Martin earned automatic qualifying spots from the Big Ten Championships, while sophomore Jake Covaciu earned an at-large bid.
Oliver will wrestle at 125 pounds and has become the first Hoosier to qualify for four straight NCAA Championships since current IU Coach Angel Escobedo did from 2007-11. Oliver finished the season with a record of 28-16.
Martin finished the season with a 21-9 record and will wrestle at 165 pounds. This is his second straight year qualifying.
This will be the first appearance at the NCAA Championships for Covaciu, who finished the season at 17-12. He will compete at 174 pounds.
Despite the high level of competition, Escobedo said he believes his wrestlers are ready for anything that could happen to them.
“The thing about wrestling in this conference and in the Big Ten Championships is that it’s already the toughest conference in the country,” Escobedo said. “We’ve been matched up against the best all year, so our guys are used to tough competition.”
IU has been matched up against difficult teams throughout the season and have thus struggled to find wins. The team's only Big Ten win of the season came against Maryland.
Escobedo will need his team to ride the momentum it gathered at the Big Ten championships into the NCAA championships. The Hoosiers were projected to score only eight points at the tournament but finished with 31.
Bryce Martin has also won six of his last eight matches and will need to keep up the pace against tougher competition.
IU will have its hands full as conference opponent Penn State looks to win its thirdstraight national championship. The last school to pull off such a feat was Iowa, which completed its run in 2010.
Ohio State has placed second in each of the past two seasons and will certainly be in the mix to make a run at its second title as well as its first since 2015.
The NCAA Championships will begin at noon Thrusday.
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