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    Indiana locked and loaded for season

    Head coach Duane Goldman enters the his 18th season at the helm of the IU wrestling program with a large amount of ammo returning from last season's squad which finished 24th at the NCAA's. Seven former NCAA Qualifiers will don the Cream and Crimson for the 2009-10 season, including two big bullets in former All-Americans Angel Escobedo and Matt Coughlin.

    125 POUNDS
    There is little doubt who will man the 125-lbs. slot for Indiana this season as three-time All-American and 2008 National Champion Angel Escobedo returns for his senior season. Following successful offseason surgery to repair his shoulder which forced him to wear a harness for much of last year, he looks to capture his second NCAA title in `10 and become the first four-time All-American in IU history.

    "Angel is really looking forward to his senior year," said Goldman. "He has a tough weight class coming back with the defending national champion returning, but he expects to regain his spot on top of the awards stand."

    Another fifth-year senior in Wesley Fike is prepared to fill-in at 125 pounds if needed. Fike has seen some action in the line-up at both 125 and 133 pounds, winning all three contests in the dual-match line-up. He was also the Hoosiers' 125-pound representative at last season's Las Vegas Open. Justin Brooks rounds out the 125-lbs. class.

    133 POUNDS
    Redshirt sophomore Matt Ortega had a strong-hold on the 133-pound weight class a year ago and this season looks to be no different. Ortega, a four-time New Mexico state champion, is a bonus point-producing machine. Sixteen of his 23 wins garnered the extra points, including six major decisions and 10 pins. Geno Capezio provides quality depth in the weight class, coming off a 12-win redshirt season that saw him place in two tournmaments.

    "Matt gained a lot of starting experience as a freshman that should benefit him greatly this season," said Goldman. "Geno wrestled well in his redshirt competitions, and will really push Matt."

    141 POUNDS
    This is arguably the most wide-open weight class for Indiana heading into the season. A three-man race comprising of freshmen Danny Monaco, Nick Viterisi and Max Ortega will battle it out for time in the line-up. Monaco and Viterisi are redshirt frosh while Ortega begins his first season on the Bloomington campus. Ortega is a five-time state champion from New Mexico and the younger brother of Matt Ortega.

    "We are going to be a little inexperienced at this weight in terms of varsity action," said Goldman. "But all three have extensive mat time competing in elite tournaments throughout their prep careers. We expect to be very competitive at 141, if not right away, then certainly down the line."

    149 POUNDS
    Redshirt junior Alex Warren is expected to be at 149 pounds early on before fighting to keep his spot in the line-up once the 157-lbs. representative is decided. Warren has cracked the line-up before, winning five of six dual matches.

    "Alex has a lot of potential there having been an Indiana state champion," said Goldman.

    Sophomore Jacob Smith is also in the mix at 149 pounds.

    157 POUNDS
    The talent crop at 157 pounds is plentiful, highlighted by the colossal clash between two-time NCAA qualifers Kurt Kinser and Matt Coughlin. Kinser's 18 pins in 2008 are the second most in school history while Coughlin made his way to the All-American stand in 2007, placing seventh at 149 lbs. Each will start the season at 157 lbs. with one dropping to 149 before Big Ten action begins.

    "They both need to find a way into the line-up," said Goldman. "There is no doubt that they are going to have to earn their way into the line-up this season. It's going to be interesting to see how it all shakes out."

    Coach Goldman has three additional 157-pound options at his disposal as well. Redshirt freshman Ryan Konz is expected to push the action in that weight while true freshmen Anthony Fretwell and Ross Powell provide increased depth. Konz is a very skilled wrestler out of Tennessee. Fretwell holds the national prep record for most pins in a single season with 68 falls.

    165 POUNDS
    Paul Young cemented himself at 165 lbs. with his strong sophomore campaign a year ago. One of three Bloomington H.S. South products on the roster, Young was the Vito Maurici Leadership Award honoree last season and has flashed noticeable offseason improvements on the mat during early practices.

    "Paul has set some very high goals for himself," said Goldman. "He really wants to get himself in that All-America contingent, and he has the ability to do just that."

    Ryan LeBlanc, a top-50 recruit nationally, will like redshirt in 2009-10, but has the necessary skills to fill-in if something were to happen to Young.

    174 POUNDS
    Trevor Perry is set for his fourth consecutive year as Indiana's starter at 174 pounds. He is a three-time NCAA Qualifier, reaching the round of 12 at last season's national tournament. Perry has racked up 24 pins and is tied for 10th on the all-time career pins list heading into his fourth and final season as a Hoosier.

    "Trevor was so close to stepping on that All-American stand last year, losing a tight match" said Goldman. "He is dedicated to capping off his senior year as an All-American."

    True freshman Bryce Grimes is an Indiana state runner-up and will join Perry at 174 lbs.

    184 POUNDS
    Indiana's "Most Improved Wrestler" a year ago, Eric Cameron returns at the 184-pound weight class, a starting slot he earned late in the season and converted into a trip to the NCAA's after placing sixth at the Big Ten Championships. Fellow junior Nick Avery is going to challenge him for time in the line-up. Avery has pushed himself into the varsity line-up before and had some strong showings.

    "Cameron scored points at the NCAA's, and gained a lot of confidence from that experience," said Goldman. "The confidence boost has been a benefit to him this offseason and should help in his quest to succeed in 2010."

    "Nick is going to serve as strong competition for Eric. He has been a solid performer for us for years now.

    197 POUNDS
    Redshirt sophomore Matt Powless is likely to serve as Indiana's 197-pounder. He showed the ability to compete with "the big boys" last season, defeating several NCAA Qualifiers. His biggest victory came against Purdue's Logan Brown in the waning seconds. His foe was not only ranked No. 13 nationally at the time, but Powless's win also clinched the team triumph over the Boilermakers. He will be joined at practice by Joe Fagiano, who is redshirting this season. Fagiano is a two-time NCAA Qualifier with 40 career wins in two years on his resume.

    "Matt has gotten much bigger in the offseason and comes in as a more bona fide 197-pounder after starting last year at 184 lbs.," said Goldman. "He will also benefit from having Fagiano in the wrestling room each and every day."

    True freshman Tanner Kriss, a state champion from Kansas, will likely redshirt.

    285 POUNDS
    Indiana has a pair of senior heavyweights to choose from. Nate Everhart is the favorite to fill the heavyweight role. He is a two-time NCAA Qualifier and notched two wins over nationally-ranked opponents last season. Everhart's offseason workouts have paid off with a big increase in overall strength and muscle mass. Kuhn, meanwhile, is a very tall wrestler who has challenged for varsity spots before at both 197 and 285 pounds. The Indianapolis, Ind., native has competed in a total of 17 duals during his Hoosier career.

    "Nate is very anxious to get his senior season started," said Goldman. "His confidence level and the experience he has gained over the last couple years are coming to a head."

    "Justin has prepared himself well to have a good senior year on the mat. We feel very condifent that he could step in for Nate if needed."

    Columbus North High's Jowan Gill also tips the scales at 200-plus for IU, but is a redshirt candidate for the 2009-10 season.

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