Angel Escobedo wasn’t one bit surprised.
The second- year IU wrestling head coach didn’t blink an eye when junior Brock Hudkins scored against the No. 9 wrestler in the 125 pound weight class. He wasn’t shocked when Hudkins posed for a picture while grasping a forest green “Michigan State Open Champion” shirt.
Hudkins faced off against Central Michigan’s Drew Hildebrandt (No. 9) in the championship match at the Michigan State Open on Saturday. Hudkins fought his way to the bout by beating Oklahoma’s Christian Moody, the No. 19 wrestler in the weight class, 5-1 in the quarterfinals.
A third- period takedown by Hudkins propelled him past Hildebrandt 3-2 on his way to a 5-0 record on the day and a Michigan State Open tournament victory.
Hudkins entered the tournament unranked by Flo Wrestling, yet Escobedo knew what he was capable of.
“He puts in a lot of extra time,” Escobedo said. “I know the time that he puts in and all of the other guys see it too. Now they know how to be successful at the highest level in college wrestling: put in work. He’s the example.”
Hudkins’ tournament sweep marked his first time donning the cream and crimson. Hudkins was a two-time national qualifier for Northern Illinois University before transferring to IU.
After the tournament, Escobedo talked with Hudkins about his performance.
“If you feel this good in November, imagine how you’re going to feel in March,” Escobedo told Hudkins. “You’re going to be an All-American.”
Hudkins headlined a group of Hoosiers that also had strong performances. Between the main draw and the freshman and sophomore tournament, the Hoosiers had 10 wrestlers finish in the top six, including four finalists. Junior Jacob Covaciu was among the placers, as he finished in fourth place at 174 pounds.
“I continuously saw the guys doing what we have been preaching throughout the tournament,” Escobedo said. “I love these guys and the way that they compete. I could see the fire in their eyes and that they had so much fun. They were energetic and lively.”
Along with Hudkins, freshman Nick Willham took home a title at 197 pounds in the underclassman draw, triumphing with a 3-0 record.
“I had numerous coaches come up to me asking me: ‘who’s this guy’, ‘who's that guy’ because he beat our guy,” Escobedo said. “That’s good to see. They’ve been putting in a lot of work since summer and it’s paying off.”
Willham was just one of many young Hoosiers that excelled in their first collegiate matches.
Freshmen Donnell Washington (174 pounds) and Nick South (165 pounds) both finished second in their respective weight classes. Freshman Asa Garcia (141 pounds) also placed third.
Escobedo said he doesn’t want to look too far into the future, but he couldn’t hold his joy back.
“I kept telling my staff, the future's so bright,” Escobedo said. “As a young guy being their first collegiate tournament they could have taken a back seat, but they didn’t. They came in wanting to win. The guys that got second weren’t satisfied, and we want the guys to have that competitive edge. The core group is going to propel this group to new heights.”