Angel Escobedo knows the clock is ticking.
The Griffith alum and member of the USA freestyle wrestling team knows the time is now. With his final chance for the Olympics in 2016, the four-time state champion and one-time NCAA champion at Indiana knows it’s now or never.
“I really don’t want to think (about retiring from wrestling), but I know it’s out there,” Escobedo said. “Wrestling has been so important in my life, saying good-bye will be tough, but I know in 2016 it will be time to hang it out.”
Escobedo, fresh off of his engagement to Pauli Mayfield, isn’t ready to hang it up just yet and start a family. And before anybody starts planning his retirement party, Escobedo would like to finish two jobs – his quest to become a freestyle world champion and eventually an Olympian.
The first part starts this week at the 2014 Freestyle Wrestling World Cup, which will be held at The Forum in Los Angeles, March 15-16. The World Cup is the annual international dual meet championship, and features the top 10 men’s freestyle wrestling teams in the world. This is the first time the event has been hosted by the United States since 2003 in Boise, Idaho.
The United States, which finished fifth in 2013 at the event in Budapest, Hungary, is in Pool A with defending World Cup champion Iran, as well as India, Armenia and Turkey. Pool B features World Cup runner-up Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Mongolia and Japan.
Escobedo, who competes for the U.S. at 125 pounds (57 kg), was fifth last season. He knows the road won’t be easy; he lost to India’s Amit Kumar, who took silver, and eventual gold medal champ Hassan Rahimi from Iran returns to the bracket.
“It will be tough, but I want to see where I’m at and improve,” Escobedo said. “You want to win as an individual, but you also want to do well as a team because there’s prize money for individuals and coaches.”
Numerous family members will be on site to cheer him on, including his fiancé. Escobedo’s family always travels well when he’s competing internationally and this event will be no different: he’s expecting over a dozen supporters from Northwest Indiana in Los Angeles.