March 20, 2014
OKLAHOMA CITY - Purdue's Cashé Quiroga avenged an early season loss to Chattanooga's Nick Soto to push forward into the 133-pound quarterfinals of the NCAA Wrestling Championships Thursday. The seventh-seeded Boilermaker advances to face the No. 2 seed A.J. Schopp of Edinboro in the third session from Chesapeake Energy Arena Friday starting at 9 a.m. CT. The third session will also contest the second and third rounds of wrestlebacks where 15th-seeded Braden Atwood will be in action at 197 pounds. All eight mats of wrestling Friday can be seen on ESPNU or via WatchESPN.
Quiroga defeated Soto when it mattered most battling back from a 7-4 deficit in the second period to win 8-7. The 10th-seeded Moc jumped out to a 3-0 lead at the start of the second period courtesy of a first period takedown and an escape to start the second.
The Indianapolis, Ind., native responded with a takedown at the 1:30 mark, only to have Soto escape seconds later. The two wrestlers battled for control, tangled on the edge of the mat, and the redshirt senior Boilermaker was awarded the takedown to tie it at 4-4 with short time in the second. Soto took a 7-4 lead as Quiroga was called for locked hands and the Moc added a reversal.
It took 30 seconds before the 2010 All-American was able to escape at the start of the final two minutes, narrowing Soto's edge to 7-6. Quiroga shot in on an ankle, but couldn't complete the pick. He repositioned himself and got the match-winning takedown with 48 seconds left on the clock.
"I wrestled decent today, not as good as I wanted though," Quiroga said. "A close match is anyone's match, so I need to put up more points. This tournament, and it being at the end of the year, everyone wants it bad, so I have to keep scoring points and advancing, it doesn't matter how ugly the win is. Tomorrow I have to keep my offense relentless. I can't give up late takedowns like I did in my last match [against Soto]. I have to stick to my offense and advance."
Quiroga will take an 18-6 record into a quarterfinal battle against Schopp (33-1). The Fighting Scot was an All-American last year with a fourth-place finish. He won his first match by fall and followed with a 6-2 decision of Michigan's Rossi Bruno.
Atwood will have to fight his way through the wrestlebacks in order to obtain a podium finish. The 15th-seeded Boilermaker suffered a 19-6 major decision loss to second-seeded J'Den Cox of Missouri. From the first whistle, Cox was on Atwood with an immediate five-point move to set the tone of the match. The Tiger took Atwood down five more times and reversed him in the third. All of the redshirt junior's points were escapes.
Now 26-11, Atwood drops into the wrestlebacks where he will meet No. 16 Alex Polizzi, Northwestern. The two tangled at Midlands in late December, with Atwood defeating the Wildcat, 2-1, in the first tiebreaker.
Danny Sabatello closed the book on his redshirt sophomore campaign as he suffered an 8-6 loss to NC State's Sam Speno in the first round of wrestlebacks at 141. The two grapplers exchanged takedowns in the first period. Speno held a 3-2 advantage as the period came to an end thanks to an escape after Sabatello's first takedown. A lone escape by the Boilermaker in the second tied the match at 3-3 with two minutes to go.
The Long Grove, Ill., native kept on the offensive, taking Speno down after he escaped in the third. Deadlocked at 5-5, Speno took the lead with a takedown, 7-5. With short time on the clock, Sabatello escaped to make it 7-6. Time ticked away on his first NCAA Championships appearance with just seconds left to get the winning shot, but he was unable to score. Speno received an additional point for 2:25 worth of riding time.
Sabatello bows out of the tournament and finishes the season with a record of 22-14.
For extended coverage and information from Oklahoma City, including brackets, upcoming matches, ESPN coverage details and much more, visit Purdue's NCAA Wrestling Championships Central page by clicking here.