WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue wrestling team heads back out on the road this weekend for conference duals at the University of Wisconsin on Friday and the seventh-ranked University of Nebraska on Sunday. Friday's dual with the Badgers will air live on the Big Ten Network at 7 p.m. (CT) as the Boilermakers look to improve on their 6-7 overall record (1-3 Big Ten).
The Boilermakers have been in a rough stretch of late, losing consecutive duals to No. 6 Illinois, No. 7 Ohio State (tied with Nebraska) and most recently fourth-ranked Minnesota. They'll look to halt that slide and win their second straight over Wisconsin on Friday, heading to Madison for the second year in a row. The Boilermakers took an 18-16 victory over sixth-ranked Wisconsin in Wisconsin Field House last February, ending a streak of seven consecutive losses to the Badgers, dating to 2004. Wisconsin is 5-5 (0-3 Big Ten) this season and are coming off of a 43-0 shutout loss at the hands of third-ranked Penn State last weekend.
With standouts Andrew Howe, Tyler Graff and Travis Rutt all in the midst of Olympic redshirt seasons, Wisconsin has relied heavily on junior Cole Schmitt and senior Ben Jordan to provide the ammo in their lineup. Schmitt is currently 14th in the country at 149 pounds, sitting 13-3 on the year, while Jordan is 14th at 165 pounds with a 19-5 season mark.
"I know Wisconsin has a few guys out of their lineup this season, but they're still as dangerous as ever," said Boilermaker head coach Scott Hinkel. "They'll have the same mentality as us after getting shut out this weekend, looking to rebound strong. We'll have a fight on our hands."
The Boilermakers head west to Big Ten newcomer Nebraska on Sunday, set to face the Cornhuskers at 1 p.m. (CT) in the Nebraska University Coliseum. This will be the first meeting between the two schools since Feb. 9, 1992, when Nebraska took a narrow 22-19 win in Ann Arbor, Mich., to take a 5-1 all-time series lead. The Boilermakers' lone win in the series was a 33-9 victory in West Lafayette on Feb. 16, 1985, which featured Hinkel as the starting 118-pounder for the Boilermakers.
"It's exciting to welcome Nebraska to the Big Ten as the level of tradition and toughness only increases," said Hinkel. "They've had some amazing teams and wrestlers come through Lincoln in the past few years and we're ready for a battle this weekend."
The Cornhuskers feature a solid lineup top to bottom with seven ranked individuals, including five wrestlers in the Top-10 in their respective weight classes. Freshman Jake Sueflohn owns the top mark of the group, sitting sixth in the country at 141 pounds, while freshman Robert Kokesh and junior Josh Ihnen are respectively ranked seventh in the nation at 165 and 184 pounds. Senior heavyweight Tucker Lane is ranked eighth in the nation, while freshman James Green is ninth in the country at 157 pounds, owning a team-high 21 wins this season. Juniors Ridge Kiley and Tyler Koehn round out the list of ranked grapplers for Nebraska as Kiley is 19th at 133 pounds and Koehn is 20th at 174. Nebraska is 10-1 on the season and 1-1 in conference action, playing host to Indiana on Friday night before the Boilermakers come to town Sunday.
The Boilermakers could feature their entire starting lineup for the first time all season this weekend as sophomore 125-pounder Camden Eppert and senior 197-pounder A.J. Kissel plan to make the long road trip. Eppert has battled illness for the last six weeks, but has a clean bill of health for this weekend, while Kissel has just two matches on the year due to injuries and aims to get ready for the rapidly approaching postseason. Ninth-ranked 133-pound sophomore Cashé Quiroga looks to get back into the swing of things as well after dropping his last few outings, while No. 15 149-pound junior Ivan Lopouchanski aims to rebound as well. Freshman Braden Atwood is up another spot in the national poll at 184 pounds, climbing to No. 18 after last week's 1-1 performance.
Live updates will be available for both matches through TrackWrestling.com and the @PurdueWrestling Twitter Page, in addition to complete recaps at PurdueSports.com.