Indiana wrestling heads to the Bellarmine Wrestling Center in Louisville, Kentucky, to take on Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Bellarmine University in a tri-dual this upcoming Sunday.
Indiana starts off at 2 p.m. taking on SIU Edwardsville, then moves onto Bellarmine at 4 p.m. later that day.
“We expect these guys to go out there, score points and have fun,” head coach Angel Escobedo said about the first match. “I think with last year how crazy the season was, the team is really grateful for this opportunity to wrestle people outside of the conference and continue to build our skills.”
In the team’s Big Ten conference-only schedule from last season, Indiana finished 2-6. Four Hoosiers ranked in four separate weight classes heading into this season.
Going into this weekend, Indiana’s lineup will include sophomore Jacob Moran in the 125-pound weight class. Moran will fill in for graduate student Brock Hudkins, the No. 28-ranked wrestler in the 125-pound class who will move up to 133 pounds. Junior Cayden Rooks will compete in the 141-pound weight class while his brother, junior Graham, will wrestle at 149.
Junior Kasper McIntosh, a transfer from Minnesota originally from Portage, Indiana, earned the spot for the 157-pound weight class and will make his debut with Indiana this weekend. Despite not competing with the Golden Gophers last season, he went 13-7 with two pins during the 2019-20 season.
Sophomore Matt Ortiz, who was an Illinois state champion during his high school career and ranked at some points last season, will represent Indiana in the 165-pound weight class. Sophomore Nick South will represent the 174 pound category for the Hoosiers.
Junior DJ Washington, who is currently the No. 9-ranked wrestler in the 174-pound weight class according to InterMat Wrestling, will move up to and compete at 184 starting this weekend.
“DJ is moving up a weight class,” Escobedo said. “He had a big summer this year making the Junior World team, and we are expecting big things out of him.”
Junior Nick Willham will come back this season as the starter in the 197-pound weight class. Finally, junior Jacob Bullock will compete at heavyweight.
“Every time we go out to compete, we focus on the same things,” Escobedo said. “This weekend isn’t gameplanning about what the other teams can do but rather worrying about what we can do with trying to be effective on our offense.”
Though SIU Edwardsville went 3-7 last season with a 1-6 conference record in the Mid-American Conference, the Cougars have ranked wrestlers in three separate weight classes: No. 28 sophomore Saul Ervin at 141 pounds, No. 22 junior Justin Ruffin at 157 pounds and No. 31 junior Colton McKiernan at heavyweight.
Bellarmine finished 1-9 overall with a 1-7 in its conference last season. This is the program’s second season competing at a Division I level and it will compete without any ranked wrestlers.