Angel Escobedo looking for continued improvement at Freestyle World Cup

By Chris Casper | March 11, 2014, 4:13 p.m. (ET)
Photos of Angel Escobedo competing at The 2013 World Championships by Tony Rotundo/Wrestlers Are Warriors.

It has been an exceptional year for U.S World Team freestyle member Angel Escobedo, both personally and professionally.

As he prepares for the World Cup in Los Angeles on March 15-16, he is looking forward to more of the same.

Escobedo posted a fifth-place finish at the 2013 World Championships in his first appearance at the World meet, A 2008 NCAA champion for Indiana University, Escobedo is making progress in his international performance.

When he reflects on the 2013 Worlds, he uses the experience to prepare him for the challenges of next week’s competition at 57 kg/125.5 lbs.

“I got going in my in first two matches, was really offensive, and went 6-0, 10-0. Then I ran into Amit Kumar from India who made it to the finals—I kind of wrestled his match instead of mine,” Escobedo said. “It was 1-0 coming out of the first period, but he just really seemed to stay offensive, and I let him control the ties, and get to his offense. He scored on me a couple of times and I kind of fell into a hole.”

“I thought I wrestled all right, but could have made a lot more offensive moves to put myself in better offensive positions—but you live and you learn,” Escobedo said.

Learning and improving is what Escobedo has been focusing on during World Cup camp, under the guidance of National Freestyle Coach Zeke Jones, at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

“Angel looks good. He’s definitely gotten better since the World Championships, like controlling the center of the mat, controlling the tie up, leg driving, and building set up routines,” Jones said. “When he does those things he’s hard to beat. He has to increase his attack rate and demands from himself that he scores points. If he scores points, he wins; it’s that simple since he’s hard to score on.”

Escobedo says he has been trying to improve on his single and double leg shot. He has been really focusing on getting better at front head locks. He feels that he was put in a lot of front headlocks when he was at worlds.

“One big thing Zeke has been trying to impress upon on us is leg drive, controlling our ties. I’ve been doing a lot of that. Trying to get to my ties, and push guys out of bounds and get to my offense. Since Worlds, I have been trying been trying to do that, both in training and in tournaments,” Escobedo said.

Coach Jones believes Escobedo needs to start becoming a go-to guy for them.

“It’s time Angel breaks through. We need him to step up and be a play maker for us,” Jones Said.

The World Cup in L.A. next week is a big challenge on a big stage, and Escobedo is ready.

“It’s going to be awesome, it will be great to get in front of the California fans and wrestle, and wrestle the best guys in the world. I think the pool came out and I believe I will have the Hassan Rahimi from Iran who won the World title last year and Amit Kumar from India who beat me—he took second. So good competition there and I’m looking forward to it,” Escobedo said.

Escobedo is certainly looking for a little bit of revenge in the World Cup.

“Yeah, this is what I’ve been training for, to see where I’m at, to see what kind of improvements I’ve made—this is what you live for, tough competitive matches. It’s exciting, I love wrestling really hard opponents,” Escobedo said.

Cheering Escobedo on at the World Cup will be his fiancé Pauli Mayfield who he proposed to last month.

“Yeah, I popped the big question, it was pretty exciting. Most of the guys on our team are married, with families, so this is the next big step in my life. I’m pretty excited. She always supports me. She came out to Worlds, she’s coming out to the World Cup, and she comes to all my tournaments. It’s always great when you have a girl that supports wrestling,” Escobedo said.

His best advice to give to a high school student trying to compete at the next level is to keep at it.

“It’s all a process, never give up. I’ve seen a guy win a national title without winning state,” Escobedo said.