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Monday, April 15
The Indiana Daily Student

sports wrestling

IU wrestling prepares for two-match road trip against Rutgers, Maryland

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After losing to Purdue 23-9 on Monday night, IU will travel again as its conference season continues.

The Hoosiers will head to Piscataway, New Jersey, to face off against Rutgers on Friday, then clash with Maryland on Sunday in College Park. 

Almost halfway through conference play, IU is still winless overall and sits at the bottom of the Big Ten standings.

Rutgers holds an even 2-2 conference mark, with wins against Maryland and Michigan State and losses to No. 3 Ohio State and No. 2 Penn State. Overall, the Scarlet Knights enter with a dual match record of 7-3.

Like IU, Rutgers has a young team this season. However, the Scarlet Knights have three freshmen that are currently ranked in the top-25 in their respective weight classes.

Rutgers redshirt freshman Nicolas Aguilar holds an unscathed conference dual match record of 4-0 in the 125-pound weight class. While Aguilar is ranked No. 14, he will face a more experienced wrestler in IU junior Liam Cronin. In the match against Purdue, Cronin picked up his first Big Ten conference dual meet win of the year.

Another victory from Cronin could give IU a boost to pull off an upset this weekend.

“It felt good because this whole way I thought that I deserved to be there,” Cronin said after Monday's match agaisnt Purdue. “I put in the hard work. My confidence has been there. It felt good to finally break through and see my results match my hard work.”

Rutgers has more young talent in No. 10 freshman Sammy Alvarez at 133 pounds and No. 23 redshirt freshman Billy Janzer at 184 pounds. Alvarez downed No. 20 Jordan Decatur from Ohio State earlier this season, and Janzer leads the team in dual match wins with nine.

Alvarez will have a key matchup with IU freshman Cayden Rooks at 133 pounds. Rooks picked up victories in consecutive conference matches over the last week and cemented his starting spot in the weight class.

The Rutgers lineup is anchored by 197-pound graduate student Jordan Pagano. Ranked No. 18, Pagano was granted a sixth year of eligibility but has yet to collect his first conference dual win this season.

Despite the team's record, IU head coach Angel Escobedo said he's seen IU continue to progress over the course of the four conference matches, each time taking a step in the right direction.

“The big thing that I noticed from Northwestern to now, we’re putting together ranked wins from guys that weren’t winning in the past,” Escobedo said.

The Hoosiers have struggled to close out matches, leaving them unable to finally break through with their first team victory this season. Against Purdue, IU dropped two matches in the sudden victory period, and two other matches were decided by three points or less.

“We can’t dwell on it,” Cronin said. “It’s in the past now, but I definitely think our guys need to have that killer mindset.”

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