Escobedo Wins National Championship; Becker Claims Fourth Place Finish in the Nation
Redshirt sophomore Angel Escobedo is the 2008 125-pound National Champion after a 10-3 victory over Minnesota's Jayson Ness in the NCAA finals. He was not the only Hoosier to be named an All-American, however, as senior Brandon Becker claimed his third career All-American recognition by finishing fourth place in the 157-lb. weight class.
As a team, the Hoosiers finished in 12th place at the NCAAs.
Escobedo finishes the year with an overall record of 34-1 and has now compiled 73 total wins in his first two seasons as a Hoosier. Indiana has won the 125-lb. national title three of the last four seasons with Joe Dubuque taking home the prize in 2005 and 2006. Escobedo's championship run is the 11th national title in Indiana wrestling history.
Becker caps off an outstanding career that has placed him throughout the IU record books by finishing in fourth place, his best career finish at the NCAAs. The Mickleton, N.J. native climbed the All-American stand in 2005 (fifth) and 2006 (seventh) as well.
Escobedo was the first to light the scoreboard in the 125-lb. championship match when he slipped by Ness with a perfectly executed duck under at the 0:45 mark in the opening period for the takedown. The Golden Gopher got away from Escobedo 33 seconds later to cut the lead in half at 2-1 before the start of the second period.
Ness chose the down position to begin the second stanza and tallied another escape to tie the score at 2-2. He later shot in deep on Escobedo in the middle of the mat. Escobedo sunk in a whizzer though, successfully denying the takedown attempt to the delight of the 16,154 people in attendance at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
It was Escobedo's turn to choose the starting position in round three, and the Griffith, Ind. elected to start down in the referee's position with the score still knotted at 2-2. Shortly following a stalling warning on Ness at the 1:35 mark, Escobedo burst out of his grasp for an escape and a 3-2 edge.
Escobedo continued to be aggressive, hitting a double-leg takedown with just under a minute remaining in the match to increase his lead, 5-2. Once accumulating over one minute of riding time advantage, Escobedo cut Ness loose with only 30 seconds left in the bout.
Ness, whose only two losses this season came by the hands of Escobedo, needed to hit a five-point move at the end to win. Knowing this, Escobedo anticipated the throw attempt and countered by slamming Ness to his back for a takedown and two near-fall points as time expired. Add on his riding time point and Escobedo took home the national championship by a score of 10-3.
Becker began Saturday with a 3-0 triumph over Stanford's Josh Zupancic in the round of six. After a scoreless first period, Becker struck first with a reversal in the second period. He narrowly escaped a near-fall and turned it into two points as he bridged himself all the way over top of Zupancic to record the reversal. Becker added a riding time point for the 3-0 final tally.
In the third-place match, Becker bounced back from an early 2-0 deficit with a pair of escapes to even the score at 2-2. His opponent, Dan Vallimont of Penn State, chose neutral for the third period and regained his two-point advantage by notching another his second takedown. Becker responded again though, posting a reversal with nine seconds left in the match. Unfortunately, he could not turn Vallimont and lost the match 5-4 due to a riding time advantage for the Nittany Lion.
On his game plan heading into the finals:
On the impact of his shoulder injury he suffered in the quarterfinals, forcing him to wear a brace in his final two matches:
On the late surge from Ness:
"I will also take a lot of good friends from Indiana. Whether it's my current teammates, former teammates or wrestling alumni that I have met over the years, I really value those people and my five years at Indiana."
On what it means to finish in fourth place at the NCAA Championships:
On his plans after graduating from Indiana:
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