Coming off two losses against ranked opponents last weekend at home, IU wrestling will look to bounce back against the winless Maryland Terrapins on Sunday in Bloomington and improve on its 1-5 record. This is IU’s last home meet of the season and it will start at 11 a.m.
Maryland has struggled mightily, starting 0-6 and being shutout in four meets this season. In their last match against No. 11 Ohio State, three Terrapins were pinned and two lost by major decision, resulting in a 41-0 loss at home.
“They’ve got some scrappy guys, even though they haven’t put together a win as a team they do have some bright spots,” IU head coach Angel Escobedo said in a press conference Thursday. “They’re young just like we are, they’re rebuilding like we are, so for us it’s like, we have to go out there and dominate.”
IU wasn’t able to carry any momentum from its first win at Northwestern on Jan. 30 to its matches last weekend, losing to Michigan State and Nebraska by scores of 28-10 and 47-0, respectively.
“I think we’ve got to treat it like Northwestern, I mean we knew Northwestern was capable of coming out with the win,” Escobedo said. “We knew it was going to be a tough dual match and we had to capitalize on the close matches, and that’s what it’s going to be with Maryland.”
Two Hoosiers went down with injuries in their dual with Nebraska, and Escobedo said one, sophomore heavyweight Jacob Bullock, will be out for the season after undergoing meniscus surgery.
Sophomore Nick Willham, IU’s 197-pound starter, had parts of his tooth removed from his gums after the meet against Nebraska, but he’ll be back in the lineup Sunday.
“He has a half a tooth and he’s going to get that fixed at the end of the season, but Nick is one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met and he’s ready to rock and roll,” Escobedo said.
Senior Brock Hudkins and redshirt sophomore Graham Rooks were both late scratches for the Hoosiers last weekend, and Escobedo said after the match their absence from the lineup swung the momentum against them from the start.
Hudkins, who was ranked the No. 20 in the 125-pound weight class in the NCAA Coaches Rankings Thursday, has only wrestled twice this season in his return from a season-ending knee injury last year, going 0-2 against two ranked opponents. Escobedo said the two-time NCAA qualifier may not be able to wrestle again this weekend.
Rooks is in a similar situation to Hudkins, having only wrestled twice this season due to injuries. Escobedo said Rooks is set to return Sunday after being out of the lineup last weekend, so he will look to improve on his 1-1 record this season.
“You know it’s been tough, they just really can’t catch a break those two, but the team like we’ve been talking, it doesn’t matter who goes out for us we all have to be leaders,” Escobedo said. “Whoever steps out there for Indiana has to be able to step out there with pride and confidence in their abilities and in their training.”
Both Hudkins and Rooks need to hit the four-match minimum to be considered for an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament, and IU only has one more regular season match after Maryland.
IU had two more wrestlers ranked in the coaches poll, with 174-pound sophomore DJ Washington coming in at No. 8 and 165-pound sophomore Nick South at No. 25. Washington, who was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Week two weeks ago, is 4-2 this season and South is 2-4.
“I’m really happy, really excited about my young guys, how they approached this season and how they continue to approach it week-to-week,” Escobedo said.
IU leads the all-time series 4-0 against Maryland and won the last match in the series 19-16 in College Park, Maryland. The Hoosiers dominated the Terrapins the last time they met in Wilkinson Hall in 2019, winning 36-3.