IU head coach Angel Escobedo said he felt like his team let Iowa and Illinois off the hook.
As the matches got deeper into the second and third periods, Escobedo saw a slight hesitation among the Hoosier wrestlers, time and time again.
And that didn’t sit well with the second-year head coach, mostly because he knows how much time they have put into conditioning.
“We’re in really good shape, so we need to be able to score when guys are tired,” Escobedo said after the match against Illinois. “Just knowing what you are going to do when a guy is tired, having purpose to your attacks. I’m really trying to get them to understand that, because against Iowa and Illinois, I felt like we let them get away even though they were exhausted.”
The score spiraled out of control, leading to blowout losses.
“I’m trying to keep it positive because I do really believe that if we put in the work, we can get that signature win, we can be ranked, we can be All-Americans,” Escobedo said. “I tell them that wrestling is going to come. Our dual meet is going to come.”
The next opportunity for IU comes Saturday when they take on No. 8 Northwestern. It will be the second time in less than a month that the Hoosiers will venture north to Evanston, as the Midlands Championships from Dec. 29-30 was also organized by the Wildcats.
After a rough three-day stretch that saw two IU losses — to No. 1 Iowa 41-0, and Illinois 32-3 — head coach Angel Escobedo is constantly trying to instill a positive attitude as the Hoosiers attempt to dig themselves out of a 0-2 conference record.
Northwestern also holds an 0-2 conference record entering the meet with IU.
On Jan. 10, Northwestern fell to No. 9 Purdue 21-13 and then took another loss to No. 2 Penn State 30-9.
While the Wildcats have gotten off to a slow start in the conference slate, they had some early-season success, defeating the University of Northern Iowa 24-20 in their second dual match of the season.
Among the Northwestern wrestlers to pick up wins against North Dakota State was 157-pound junior Ryan Deakin, who finished sixth in the national championships last year. And so far this season, he took down the No. 1 and No. 2 wrestlers in his weight class on his way to taking the current No. 1 spot for himself.
The Wildcats also have young talent in freshman Michael DeAugustino. Standing at No. 8 in the 125-pound weight class, DeAugustino has placed in two of Northwestern’s early tournaments.
DeAugustino could present problems for the Hoosiers with No. 6 125-pound junior Brock Hudkins still sidelined. Junior Liam Cronin has taken Hudkins’ spot but hasn’t been able to shake off recent struggles.
The Wildcats also have No. 3 Sebastian Rivera at 133-pounds following DeAugustino in the lineup. Rivera placed third last year in the national championships at 125-pounds before bumping up weight this year.
Rivera and the 133-pound weight class will again be a difficult spot for the Hoosiers to compete at. IU sophomore Kyle Luigs is still suspended indefinitely, and there have been moving pieces to take over the opening.
“We have to go back to work and fix our mistakes,” Escobedo said. “It’s not being sad that you lost. It’s about having that burning desire to get better from a loss.”
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