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Friday, April 19
The Indiana Daily Student

sports wrestling

IU wrestling to face challenges this weekend against Wisconsin and Minnesota


For the first time this season, IU wrestling will enter a competition vying for its first winning streak. After beating Maryland 19-16 on Sunday, the Hoosiers will face off against two top-five opponents in Wilkinson Hall this weekend.

No. 4 Wisconsin will wrestle IU on Friday, and then after one day of rest, the Hoosiers will be back at it with No. 5 Minnesota on Sunday. The matches will kick off a four-game homestand over the next three weeks for IU.

Over the course of the two competitions, IU could face up to 13 individually ranked wrestlers.

“For us, it's about catching guys off guard,” IU head coach Angel Escobedo said. “They come in without seeing a lot of ranked guys in our lineup, but we’re very capable of beating ranked guys.”

After starting the season by rattling off six straight wins, Wisconsin has struggled. The Badgers came up short in their conference opener to No.1 Iowa 32-3 then dropped two of their next three matches. Minnesota defeated Wisconsin 20-14 on Jan. 10 as a part of the recent skid.

Despite having radically different overall records and rankings, IU and Wisconsin will both enter the match on Friday with only one conference win.

The Badgers are led by 133-pound senior Seth Gross, who is in his first year with the program. Gross wrestled at South Dakota State University where he won a national championship in 2018 before deciding to spend his final year in Madison, Wisconsin.

Gross has breezed through his competition this year with a dominating 21-1 record, including seven technical falls. His performances have continued to give him major attention across the country. He holds the unanimous No. 1 ranking among five collegiate wrestling websites.

IU junior Jake Covaciu, who transferred from Wisconsin two years ago, will face his former team.

Covaciu was forced to forfeit his match on Sunday after bumping heads with his opponent. But he’s expected to return for the clash with his old squad on Friday.

After Wisconsin, IU will move on to Minnesota, a team with seven ranked wrestlers in its lineup.

The Golden Gophers are in the middle of the pack of the Big Ten standings, with a 2-2 conference mark. Minnesota is coming off a loss to No. 3 Ohio State on Sunday and will venture to Indiana on Friday to battle Purdue before coming to Bloomington.

IU’s biggest challenge will come from No. 1 sophomore Gable Steveson from Minnesota at 285 pounds. Last year as a freshman, Stevenson racked up 35 wins, including a unblemished 17-0 record in dual meets. He ended up finishing third in the national championships, making him the highest placer out of any true freshman that year.

IU freshman Eddie Bolivar, who picked up his first conference win against Maryland on Sunday, will face a duo of top-five wrestlers over the course of the three days. Bolivar is slated to face No. 4 Tristan Moran from Wisconsin and No. 5 Mitch Mckee from Minnesota.

For IU to pull off an upset, it will need more impressive performances from the light weights. On Sunday, IU won every match from 125 pounds to 149 pounds.

“I think our lower half of the lineup is really cementing itself,” Escobedo said. “Continuing to lean on those guys and have them give us a boost.”

Junior Liam Cronin has triumphed in his last three matches at 125 pounds, including two ranked wins. Earlier in the year, redshirt freshman Graham Rooks secured two ranked wins in one week. 

“We beat Maryland last year, we beat them this year, now let's add another team,” Escobedo said. “Let’s start knocking off these other teams in the Big Ten. We just have to keep building every weekend.”

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