Wrestling Has Seven Advance At 49th-Annual Midlands Championships
Freshman Brandon Nelsen upset the nation's No. 8 wrestler at 141 pounds.

Dec. 29, 2011

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EVANSTON, Ill. - The Purdue Wrestling team opened up the 49th-Annual Midlands Championships on Thursday at Northwestern University's Welsh-Ryan Arena, competing through the first few rounds of the tournament. Purdue freshmen Brandon Nelsen and Braden Atwood lead the Boilermakers as both are in the quarterfinals at their respective weights with a pair of wins in the first session, while the team sits 13th overall with 20 points.

Nelsen started the tournament with one of the wildest matches of the day as he edged Illinois' Daryl Thomas in a 19-17 barnburner. Nelsen raced out to a 13-3 lead on Thomas before he came roaring back to pull within a few points in the third period. In the end Nelsen's lead proved too large to overcome as Thomas was unable to take Nelsen to his back and the Boilermaker rookie won his eighth consecutive match and his fourth bout this year against a Big Ten opponent. Nelsen followed up with the biggest win of his young career as he toppled fourth-seeded and eighth-ranked Steve Dutton of Lehigh in the second round. Nelsen had the lone takedown of the match, scoring two in the first period, and after Dutton rode Nelsen out in the second period, they traded reversals in the third for a 4-2 final. Dutton scored his first, tying the score but holding an advantage due to almost two minutes of riding time, but Nelsen worked his way back on to the top to retake the lead and erase the riding-time point. The Purdue freshman, who has won nine consecutive matches and 14 of his last 15, will take on 12th-seeded Adam Krop of Princeton in tonight's quarterfinals.

Atwood notched a pair of falls in his two victories, increasing his season total to six in the process. He opened with a 5:55 pin against Clarion University's Steven Cressley, running up a 9-0 lead before putting his opponent on his back, and followed with a come-from-behind pin over Wrestling Roots' Tim Foley. Foley caught Atwood early with a five-point series, but quickly ran out of gas as Atwood started to chip away at the lead over the next two periods and reversed Foley to his back at 5:39.

Seniors Matt Fields and Roger Vukobratovich, junior Tommy Churchard, sophomore Camden Eppert and freshman Frankie Porras moved on to tonight's session in the consolation bracket, advancing despite a loss this afternoon.

Fields was 2-1 in the first session, including his sixth fall of the season. After falling to Northern Iowa's Ryan Jauch in a narrow 4-3 decision in his opening match, he rebounded with a speedy 1:04-pin of California State Bakersfield's Jose Mendoza, cradling his opponent for his 18th career pin. He followed that with a hard-fought 1-0 decision over Iowa State's Ben Cash, scoring the only point of the match with 4:00 of riding time after spending the final two periods on top. Fields' 18 career falls are tied for 13th all-time at Purdue with Israel Blevins and Nick Bertucci.

Vukobratovich had a similar effort at 285 pounds, losing his opener but bouncing back with a win. Drawing the defending Big Ten Champion in seventh-seeded Blake Rasing of Iowa, Vukobratovich battled in a 3-2 decision, but gave up the lone takedown of the match in just his fifth loss of the year. He returned to face Southern Illinois-Edwardsville's David Devine in the consolation bracket, rolling out a 16-6 major decision and building on his team-leading takedown count with seven against his Cougar opponent.

Porras followed the seniors' model at 149 pounds, dropping his opener to Northern Iowa's Clay Welter, but bouncing back with decisions over Luke Swalla of Iowa State and Steve Dewitt of Harper. With just nine takedowns coming into the day, Porras had five in his three bouts Thursday afternoon, and returns tonight to meet Iowa's Mike Kelly.

After winning his opening bout at 157 pounds by major decision over Bucknell's Ray Schlitt, 15-5, Churchard fell in his second match to fourth-seeded and 11th-ranked Matt Lester of Oklahoma, 12-4. Lester got on top early with a takedown and two three point turns, leaving Churchard unable to close the gap despite a pair of third-period takedowns. He rebounded in the consolation bracket with another major decision, topping Harper's Steve Dewitt, 13-4.

Eppert is still alive despite just wrestling once this afternoon, falling to second-ranked two-time All-America Matt McDonough of Iowa. Eppert got in on several shots in the first period, but was stalemated each time and McDonough went to the second with a 4-1 lead. The lead grew a little in the second and third before Eppert was turned for the fall. He received a consolation bye and comes back to wrestle Aaron Pickrel of South Dakota State tonight.

The second session begins at 7:30 p.m. (CT) with the consolation second round. They'll complete three consolation rounds and the championship quarterfinals this evening.

49th Annual Midlands Championships Results

Thursday-Friday, Dec. 29-30, 2011

Welsh-Ryan Arena - Northwestern University


125 Pounds: Camden Eppert

First Round: lost to No. 2 (2) Matt McDonough (Iowa), Fall 6:01

Conso. First Round: Aaron Pickrel (South Dakota St.)


133 Pounds: Matt Fields

Pigtail: lost to Ryan Jauch (Northern Iowa), D 3-4

Conso. Pigtail: def. Jose Mendoza (CSU Bakersfield), Fall 1:04

Conso. First Round: def. Ben Cash (Iowa State), D 1-0

Conso. Second Round: No. 11 Thomas Kelliher (Wisconsin)


141 Pounds: Nick Lawrence

First Round: lost to Luke Goetti (Iowa State), D 4-5

Conso. First Round: lost to Tyler Diamond (North Dakota St.), D 2-3


141 Pounds: Brandon Nelsen

First Round: def. Daryl Thomas (Illinois), D 19-17

Second Round: def. No. 4 (8) Stephen Dutton (Lehigh), D 4-2

Quarterfinals: No. 12 Adam Krop (Princeton)


149 Pounds: Frankie Porras

Pigtail: lost to Clay Welter (Northern Iowa), D 2-5

Conso. Pigtail: def. Luke Swalla (Iowa St.), D 3-2

Conso. First Round: def. Steve Dewitt (Harper), D 8-6

Conso. Second Round: Mike Kelly (Iowa)


157 Pounds: Tommy Churchard

Pigtail: def. Ray Schlitt (Bucknell), MD 15-5

First Round: lost to No. 4 (11) Matt Lester (Oklahoma), MD 4-12

Conso. First Round: def. Steve Ross (SIUE) MD 13-4

Conso. Second Round: No. 7 Donnie Corby (Central Michigan)


174 Pounds: Drake Stein

Pigtail: lost to No. 8 Phillip Joseph (Eastern Michigan), MD 2-11

Conso. Pigtail: lost to Stephan McPeek (Bucknell), D 8-12


184 Pounds: No. 5 (20) Braden Atwood

First Round: def. Steven Cressley (Clarion), Fall 5:55

Second Round: def. No. 12 Tim Foley (Wrestling Roots), Fall 5:39

Quarterfinals: No. 4 (16) Erich Schmidtke (Oklahoma)


285 Pounds: Roger Vukobratovich

First Round: lost to No. 7 Blake Rasing (Iowa), D 2-3

Conso. First Round: def. David Devine (SIUE), MD 16-6

Conso. Second Round: Evan Knutson (North Dakota St.)


Tournament seed proceeds national ranking in brackets




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