IU head coach Angel Escobedo wasn’t satisfied.
IU’s first tournament of the year in East Lansing, Michigan, saw two Hoosier champions, four finalists, and 10 top-six finishers. Escobedo described the performances as showing “grit”.
Yet shortly after the event concluded, Escobedo was already thinking about what his team could improve on.
“Bottom work,” Escobedo said. “Getting out of bottom. We have been talking about using the sitting position to get out of the bottom. The biggest jump for freshman is getting out of the bottom.”
And apparently the IU wrestlers had the same idea.
The Hoosiers approached Escobedo during the tournament, discussing where they struggled and what specific skills needed to be focused on. When it comes to practice, Escobedo is always open to hearing the wrestlers’ opinions
“I get feedback from them, and then we try to fix,” Escobedo said. “We’re going to work on some areas on our feet. We are going to push the pace.”
After resting on Monday, the Hoosiers were back on the mat inside Assembly Hall working on exactly what Escobedo articulated.
This weekend, IU will split its squad. Fourteen of the more experienced wrestlers are headed on a long road trip to Troy, New York, to compete in the Journeymen Tournament on Sunday that features a total of 34 ranked wrestlers. Five of the 15 teams in the individual event are ranked by Flo Wrestling, including No. 4 Arizona State and No. 8 Nebraska. Nine of the young Hoosiers are traveling to Cleveland, Ohio for the Ohio open, which is also on Sunday.
Last weekend junior Brock Hudkins, who will be a part of the group going to the Journeymen, triumphed with a tournament win in the 125-pound weight class and freshman Nick Willham took home the title at 197 pounds in the freshman/sophomore draw.
As a result of his 5-0 mark last weekend, Hudkins moved up to No. 8 in the country and will be the highest profile 125-pound wrestler in the open.
Junior Jacob Covaciu, who ended the Michigan State Open in fourth place, will have plenty of opportunities to knock of quality opponents in the 174 pound bracket in New York as five top-20 wrestlers are scheduled to compete.
Sophomore Paul Konrath, who is No. 25 in the 141 pound weight class and advanced to the quarterfinals in the Michigan State open, could eventually meet the No. 2 wrestler Don Demas from Oklahoma at the Journeymen.
The group of young Hoosiers will also look to build on the last tournament. In the freshman/sophomore bracket, Freshmen Donnell Washington (174 pounds), Nick South (165 pounds) and Asa Garcia (141 pounds) all finished in the top three and are set to wrestling in Ohio this weekend.
IU will be traveling back to the Empire State a week later for the Black Knight Invite, in West Point, New York.
“There may be tournaments that don’t go our way, but we know that we are going in the right direction, and we’re doing things the right way,” Escobedo said. ‘They see the effort that we are putting into practice is worth it. They see the time that we are putting into practice is worth it. That changes the mood.”