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IU wrestling struggles at NCAA Championships



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Redshirt senior Bryce Martin wrestles Chattanooga freshman Drew Nicholson on Feb. 24 in Wilkinson Hall. Alex Deryn Buy Photos

All three of IU’s wrestlers who made the NCAA Championships were knocked out within the first two days of competition.

On Thursday, senior Bryce Martin lost by fall in his opening match against No. 11 seed Bryce Steiert of University of Northern Iowa.

In his second matchup of the day, Martin came back for a close bout with No. 27 seed Troy Keller of State University of New York at Buffalo. Heading into the third period, Martin trailed 3-2 and looked to flip things into his favor.

A series of takedowns eventually halted Martin’s momentum, leading to a 7-2 loss in his final match with the program.

Martin completed the season with an overall record of 21-11 and a career record of 69-46 for IU.

Sophomore Jake Covaciu struggled with the intensity of the tournament as well, dropping both of his matchups by fall Thursday.

Despite the loss, Covaciu battled hard in his second bout of the day, which came against No. 30 seed Dean Sherry from Rider University. Covaciu held a 3-2 lead heading into the third period but couldn’t close out the match.

He may not have found success at the tournament this year, but Covaciu will likely be returning for the Hoosiers in years to come.

His first season in Bloomington was a promising one, as Covaciu finished with a 17-14 record overall, with two major decision wins under his belt.

Senior Elijah Oliver was the bright spot for the Hoosiers on Thursday.

As the No. 15 seed in the tournament, Oliver kicked things off with a strong 11-4 decision victory against No. 18 seed Zeke Moisey of Nebraska.

In the second round of competition, Oliver was matched up against No. 2 seed Nicholas Piccininni of Oklahoma State University. Oliver couldn’t gain much momentum in the tough matchup, and lost 13-2 via major decision.

Splitting his Thursday matchups was enough to net Oliver an appearance at Session III of the tournament Friday, where he would face off against No. 17 seed Devin Schroder of Purdue.

Oliver fell behind early in the match as Schroder jumped out to a 4-1 lead. Oliver managed a takedown in the third period, but couldn’t create enough momentum to turn the match around.

The 9-4 loss marks the end of Oliver’s time with IU wrestling. He finished the season with a 29-18 and bolstered an impressive 91-52 career record.

Penn State would go on to become national champions at the tournament with the team's performance Saturday to close the wrestling year out. The Nittany Lions have now won four consecutive national championships

The Hoosiers didn’t have any individual national champions on their roster this season, but the year can be looked at as a step in the right direction for the program.

With first-year Head Coach Angel Escobedo, IU snapped a losing streak against Big Ten teams that lasted almost two years.

The team also opened the brand-new Wilkinson Hall this season, which will serve as the home to IU wrestling for the foreseeable future.

With an incoming recruiting class that includes several state champions, the Hoosiers are set up to build off of this season’s success next year.

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