6 Wrestlers Place, 5 Earn NCAA Berths
March 4, 2018


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EAST LANSING, Mich. --
Purdue locked up its fifth automatic NCAA qualifier while sending six wrestlers to the podium as the Big Ten Championships concluded Sunday at the Breslin Center. Luke Welch and Nate Limmex placed fourth at 125 and 141 pounds, respectively, to lead the way for the Boilermakers. Dylan Lydy (174) and Christian Brunner (197) placed fifth; Shawn Streck (285) was seventh and Ben Thornton (133) rounded out the placewinners by taking eighth.

Fourth-year head wrestling coach Tony Ersland and the Boilermakers turned in their best Big Ten Championships performance in six years. Purdue racked up 59.5 points to finish ninth in the team standings. The 59.5 points are the most at Big Tens since 76 points were scored in 2010. The six placewinners are the most since seven Boilermakers landed on the podium in 2012.

Four automatic berths to the NCAA Championships were secured Saturday in Welch, Limmex, Lydy and Brunner. Streck made it five qualifiers for Purdue on Sunday when he won the seventh-place match.

The three-day, season-culminating tournament opens March 15 from Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, and runs through March 17.

The NCAA will announce the 47 at-large qualifiers Tuesday. The at-large selections will be made by the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee based on the following criteria: head-to-head competition; quality wins; coaches' ranking; results against common opponents; RPI; qualifying event placement; and winning percentage. Seeds and the 33-man brackets for each of the 10 weight classes will be announced on Wednesday.

Ben Thornton (133) and Jacob Morrissey (165) each finished one place shy of earning an automatic bid. They will vie for at-large consideration, with five spots available at 133 and four at 165.

Welch wrestled above his No. 6 seed with his fourth-place performance, the best showing by a Purdue 125-pounder since Chris Fleeger won it all in 2003. The redshirt senior won by injury default in the consolation semifinals. Second-seeded Spencer Lee of Iowa won the third-place match with a 16-0 technical fall in 3:23.

Welch (29-9) secured his first NCAA appearance in sudden victory Saturday with a 6-4 win over seventh-seeded RayVon Foley of Michigan State. He is the first Boilermaker to qualify at 125 pounds since Camden Eppert in 2012.


Like Welch, Limmex finished above his No. 5 seed by taking fourth. The redshirt sophomore posted a 3-2 decision over Wisconsin's eighth-seeded Eli Stickley in the consolation semifinals. No. 2 Nick Lee of Penn State won the third-place match with a 15-5 major decision. The fourth-place finish by Limmex is the best showing at 141 since Brandon Nelsen was fourth in 2013.

Limmex, a native of Ada, Michigan, qualified for his first NCAA Championships on Saturday with his 6-4 quarterfinal upset of No. 4 Chad Red of Nebraska. He'll take a 25-14 record to Cleveland.


A first period takedown and an escape in the third sealed a 3-2 win for Lydy in the fifth-place match over No. 7 Joey Gunther of Iowa. The fifth-place finish by Lydy the best at 174 since Luke Manuel was fifth in 2010. He pushed his record to 32-12 with three wins at Big Tens.


The redshirt sophomore hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana, qualified for his first trip to NCAAs in dramatic fashion Saturday. With just four seconds left, Lydy scored the winning takedown on No. 8 Ryan Christensen of Wisconsin to win 2-1 in the consolation quarterfinals.

Thanks to a medical forfeit from No. 3 Cash Wilcke of Iowa, Brunner became a two-time Big Tens placewinner while extending Purdue's presence on the 197 podium to 15 straight years. He was the third Boilermaker to perform better than his seed by taking fifth, which is the best showing for a 197-pounder since 2009 when Logan Brown placed fifth.


Brunner earned his second trip to the NCAA Championships by upsetting Wilcke 8-2 in Saturday's quarterfinals. The sophomore from East Dundee, Illinois, picked up three wins at Big Tens, taking his season record to 23-9.

Streck added to his historic rookie season while wrestling at the Breslin Center. In a must-win to qualify match, Streck looked true to form beating No. 8 Rylee Streifel of Minnesota 10-3 in the seventh-place match. The redshirt freshman from Merrillville, Indiana, registered four monster takedowns against the Gopher to secure his NCAA Championships bid.


Streck's showing at Big Tens snapped a pair of droughts for Boilermaker heavyweights. By placing, he becomes the first heavyweight earn Big Ten hardware since Chris Kasten placed eighth in 2009. He also snaps a 14-year absence of a Purdue heavyweight at the NCAA Championships, the last being Israel Blevins in 2004.

He added two wins, taking his season record to 28-13, matching the most wins for a true or redshirt freshman at Purdue since Cashé Quiroga won 28 matches during his All-America true freshman season in 2009-10.
 

 

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