Jan. 27, 2000
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Boilermaker wrestling squad (8-6-0 overall, 0-2-0 Big Ten) will venture to East Lansing, Mich., on Friday, Jan. 28 to battle the Spartans from Michigan State, and then travel to Fort Wayne, Ind., for a dual match with the Wolverines of Michigan on Sunday.
Last weekend, Purdue opened up conference action dropping a pair of dual matches to top-ranked Iowa, 42-0, and losing a heartbreaker to 20th-ranked Wisconsin, 20-19. Also on Saturday, Jan. 22, the Boilers bested Wisconsin-LaCrosse, 32-12.
"This is going to be a tough weekend for us," Purdue coach Jessie Reyes says. "Michigan State and Michigan are real tough teams. Wrestling in the toughest conference in the country, we need to come out ready to perform at the highest level. If we do that, I think we can have a successful weekend."
Eleventh-ranked Michigan State (5-1-1 overall, 1-1-1 Big Ten) currently holds a 41-16-1 advantage in the all-time series with the 22nd-ranked Boilers, but last year Purdue claimed a 24-7 victory in West Lafayette. The Spartans have defeated Arizona State (17-15), Central Michigan (28-12), Kent State (35-12) and Penn State (27-7). They also lost to Michigan (19-15) and tied Michigan (18-18) so far this season. Spartan Head Coach Tom Minkel is in his 11th year as a collegiate head coach and his ninth at Michigan State. His school record is 79-69-2 and his career record is 94-87-2.
The eighth-ranked Wolverines (8-1-1, 1-0-1 Big Ten) hold a 48-12-1 advantage in the all-time series. The past 10 seasons the Boilermakers' record against Michigan is 4-6, including a 27-11 loss last season. The Wolverines have defeated Air Force (24-13), Indiana (18-16), Michigan State (19-15) Virginia Tech (25-12), Lehigh (19-15), Pennsylvania (18-17), Central Michigan (21-15) and Northwestern (24-15). They also lost to Northern Iowa (25-16) and tied Michigan State (18-18) so far this season. Wolverine head coach Joe McFarland is in his first year at the helm of the Michigan program after serving as the assistant under legendary coach Dale Bahr for seven years.
Purdue will be led on the mat by captain Evan Robinson. The junior from Punta Gorda, Fla., currently leads the Old Gold & Black with 20 overall wins, 12 in dual meets. He went 2-1 last weekend at 133-pounds defeating. Robinson will have his hands full this weekend, as he will be matched up against returning NCAA qualifiers Pat McNamara from Michigan State and Joe Warren from Michigan. Robinson is ranked No. 5 according to the Jan. 27 Big Ten individual rankings. McNamara, the defending Big Ten Champion at 133-pounds and returning All-American is second, while Warren is third in the conference and fourth in the country.
Junior Luis Blanco, who is currently 12-9 overall this season, 5-7 in dual meets, will have his work cut out for him, as he battles No. 7 in the country in Michigan's Damion Logan. Logan, a 1999 All-American is 20-4 this year, 9-1 in dual meets.
Another anticipated match-up that will take place will be in the 184-pound weight class with Purdue sophomore Jared Williams. The Evansville, Ind., native is 12-8 overall this season, 9-5 in dual meets and he will face Michigan's tenth-ranked sophomore Andy Hrovat (15-5 overall, 10-0 dual meets) on Sunday and Michigan State's senior Will Hill (13-5 overall, 2-1 dual meets) on Friday. Hrovat was a 1999 All-American in his first year of collegiate wrestling placing seventh at the national tournament. He also placed seventh at the '99 Big Ten Championships. Hrovat is currently ranked fourth in the Big Ten. On the flip side, Hill was a NCAA qualifier at 174-pounds, where he placed fifth in the conference championships and advanced to the quarterfinals at NCAA's before being eliminated.
Still another marquee match-up this weekend will take place on Sunday at the heavyweight division, as ninth-ranked Purdue sophomore Jacob Vercelli (16-4 overall, 11-3 dual meets) will tangle with No. 16 Matt Brink. Last season Vercelli defeated the 1999 NCAA qualifier 8-4. Vercelli is currently ranked fourth in the conference. Brink is 16-6 overall this season and 8-2 in dual meets.
"There are a lot of good match ups and every match will be crucial," Reyes says. "One thing that sticks out about this weekend is the fact that there is no clear-cut favorites."
There are currently nine schools ranked in the top 25 in the nation from the Big Ten Conference according to National Wrestling Coaches Association most recent poll. They are No. 1 Iowa, No. 3 Minnesota, No. 6 Illinois, No. 8 Michigan, No. 11 Michigan State, No. 19 Wisconsin, No. 22 Indiana, No. 23 Purdue and No. 25 Penn State.