WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The 22nd-ranked Purdue Wrestling team hosts its annual Military Appreciation Day this Sunday at 1 p.m. in Holloway Gymnasium, battling top-ranked Penn State University in Big Ten Dual action. The Boilermakers head into the weekend at 10-4 overall and 1-2 in conference duals, and will don special military-themed singlets that will be auctioned off with proceeds going to the Semper Fi Fund.
"Honoring the men and women of our Armed Forces is a great experience and something we're proud to do every year," said Purdue head coach Scott Hinkel. "These people fight every day for our freedoms, including the opportunity to be a part of Purdue athletics and Boilermaker wrestling. This is the least we can do."
The Semper Fi Fund (www.semperfifund.org) is a nonprofit set up to provide immediate financial support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. The Boilermakers' military singlets will be available via a silent auction during the match with bids starting at $50.
Sunday marks the third straight top-five opponent for the Boilermakers, who dropped a 29-9 dual at fourth-ranked Iowa on Jan. 6, and fell at fifth-ranked Illinois last Friday, 29-10. Junior Camden Eppert and senior Ivan Lopouchanski are the only Boilermakers to remain undefeated in Big Ten Duals at 3-0, looking to continue the trend this weekend. The other two victories over the last two duals have come from sophomore Braden Atwood, who topped Iowa's Nathan Burak, 4-1, and freshman Danny Sabatello, who earned an 11-4 decision over Illinois' Logan Arlis.
"This is a very difficult part of our schedule," said Hinkel. "At the end of the day it doesn't matter who's on the other side of the mat. We have to go out, wrestle hard, wrestle smart and compete."
Penn State hosts No. 19 Wisconsin in Rec Hall on Friday night before coming to West Lafayette, entering the weekend with a flawless 5-0 record (2-0 Big Ten) and is yet to lose a match in conference action. The Nittany Lions blanked Indiana to open their Big Ten slate on Dec. 9, 52-0, and shutout Michigan State last weekend in Rec Hall, 41-0.
The two-time defending NCAA and Big Ten Champions are led by junior 2012 NCAA Champions Ed Ruth and David Taylor. Ruth is a flawless 16-0 in his first collegiate season at 184 pounds after winning the national title at 174 in 2012, while Taylor topped the nation at 165 pounds last season and is ranked second at 14-1 this year. Other standouts for the Nittany Lions include sophomore Nico Megaludis, senior Quentin Wright and sophomore Matt Brown. Megaludis was the NCAA runner-up at 125 pounds last year, where he is ranked second in the country at 13-1 this season, while Wright took second in the country at 184 pounds in 2012 before moving up to 197, where he is 15-0 and ranked third this year. This is Brown's first year of varsity action for Penn State, earning consensus top-10 rankings at 174 pounds with his 15-1 record.
Other ranked wrestlers for Penn State are third-ranked, 149-pound sophomore Andrew Alton, sixth-ranked, 157-pound sophomore Dylan Alton and top-20 heavyweight sophomore Jon Gingrich. The Alton's have been on suspension from head coach Cael Sanderson since Jan. 1, and are questionable for this weekend's action, while Gingrich has split time with fellow sophomore Jimmy Lawson at heavyweight and the pair own similar 12-4 and 12-3 records and impressive victories.
"They have an excellent lineup and have become one of the top teams in the country very quickly," said Hinkel. "They have accomplished a lot of the things that we're currently striving for, and the way for us to get there is to go out and go after them. This is a great opportunity for us."
Sunday's action will stream live on the Big Ten Digital Network and Boilermaker All-Access, while live results will be available at TrackWrestling.com and the @PurdueWrestling Twitter Page. Tickets for Sunday's action will be available before the dual at the Purdue Athletics Ticket Office and cost $5 for adults, $2 for youth and $1 for groups of 15 or more people.