Mar. 26, 1997
Purdue Finishes Season with 16-6 Record
1996-97 RECORD: Purdue posted a mark of 16-6 overall and a 2-4 record in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers' 16 wins set the single-season school record. Purdue placed 10th in the Big Ten and 29th at the NCAA Championships.
LAST TIME ON THE MAT: After qualifying a school-record seven men for the NCAA Championships, Purdue finished tied for 29th of 79 schools at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa on March 20-22. Junior Tim Dernlan (118) posted two victories in the main draw on the first day for the Boilermakers. He defeated Mike Mier of Oregon in his first round match, 6-0. In his second match, the ninth-seeded Dernlan squared off with the Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Year and eighth-seeded Jeremy Hunter of Penn State. Dernlan defeated the Nittney Lion 4-3 in a tiebreaker. Unfortunately, Dernlan dropped matches to top-ranked Sheldon Thomas (10-0) and David Pena (5-3) on Friday to finish out of the placing.
Junior Eric Douglas (158) also made a strong run at being an All-American, but he too came up one match short. Douglas defeated Oregon's Sean Morgan 7-3 in a preliminary match before falling to 10th-seeded Brian Leitzel of Lock Haven, 13-8. Douglas rebounded to make a run through the consolation draw. He defeated Evan Dolan (9-4), Ed Mosley (3-1 ot) and Sam Kline (4-2), before falling to All-American Matt Suter of Arizona State (3-2).
Heavyweight David Pierce, a sophomore, lost his first-round match to national runner-up Stephen Neal by a technical fall, before rallying in the consolation draw. Pierce defeated Wally Wickline (2-1) and Ben Lee (2-2 tb). His run was halted by Minnesota's Shelton Benjamin (7-2).
Mickey Griffin (150) and Frank Laccone (148) won main draw matches before losing a pair to be knocked from the tournament, while Jason Hayes (126) won a match in the consolation draw before bowing out. Purdue's other competitor, Davion Peterson (167), lost both of his matches.
While the Boilers only improved two places over last season's NCAA performance, the team scored 3 1/2 more points. They tallied 13 this season, compared to 9 1/2 a year ago.
REYES' RECORD: Head coach Jessie Reyes completed his fifth season as the Boilermaker boss. His career mark of 55-46-2 places him third in all-time wins. Claude Reeck, who coached from 1937-69, is Purdue's winningest coach with 99 victories.
QUOTING HEAD COACH JESSIE REYES: "It has been a long hard-fought season for us. We did some things that have never been done before in sending seven guys to nationals and winning 16 dual meets. Granted, we had hoped to perform better as far as place at Big Ten's and Nationals, but the personnel is there to make a run next year. We have six wrestlers returning that qualified for NCAA's. They have gotten a taste of it now and that will help them to work harder over the summer and during next season. Hopefully, that will rub off on the other guys, so more progress can be made next season."