WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The 23rd-ranked Purdue wrestling team continues its rigorous conference schedule this weekend, facing second-ranked Iowa on Friday and hosting Michigan State on Sunday. Friday's contest will be held at Penn High School in Mishawaka, Ind., while Sunday's meet is slated for the Boilermakers' home turf of Holloway Gymnasium.
The Boilermakers face not only the defending national champions in Iowa on Friday, but a wealth of history as Purdue is 4-63-3 all-time against the Hawkeyes, including a 0-7 mark in a neutral location. Iowa is in the midst of its longest win streak over Purdue in the series history, owning 24 consecutive wins, while the Boilermakers haven't topped the Hawkeyes since a 23-9 win in Iowa City, Iowa on Feb. 25, 1961.
"Iowa's tradition and success speaks for itself," said Purdue head coach Scott Hinkel. "We have to go into the match worrying about what we can do and what we can control, not who they are and what they've accomplished."
Despite the neutral site, the Boilermakers hope for a pro-Purdue, raucous crowd at Penn High School, where former Boilermaker wrestler Brad Harper is the school's head wrestling coach. Harper was a four-year letterwinner and three-year starter for the Old Gold and Black, including a pair of NCAA Championship appearances and a third-place Big Ten Championship finish at 157 pounds in 2004.
"Brad (Harper) and the Penn High School athletics staff have really hustled and worked hard to put on a top-flight event for us this week," said Hinkel. "We expect Friday to be a very large and exciting crowd, not just because of how Iowa's fans travel, but also because of wrestling's popularity in that part of our state."
The second-ranked Hawkeyes are in the midst of a 74 match unbeaten streak, with the only blemish being a 15-15 tie at Oklahoma State this season. At 12-0-1 overall and 5-0 in Big Ten Duals, Iowa has eight ranked grapplers in its lineup, led by top-ranked sophomore 125-pound defending NCAA Champion Matt McDonough. Other standouts for the Hawkeyes include No. 8 133-pound freshman Tony Ramos, No. 3 junior 141-pounder Montell Marion, seventh-ranked 157-pound freshman Derek St. John and eighth-ranked senior 197-pounder Luke Lofthouse. Senior Aaron Janssen, freshman Ethen Lofthouse and sophomore Grant Gambrall round out the list of ranked wrestlers in the lineup as Janssen is 13th at 165, Ethen Lofthouse is 11th at 174 and Gambrall is 12th at 184.
Michigan State heads to Indiana on Friday before coming to West Lafayette on Sunday, entering the weekend at 9-5 overall and 1-4 in Big Ten Duals. The Spartans lead the all-time series with the Boilermakers, 47-21-1, mostly on the strength of a 32-match win streak from 1951 to 1985, and topped Purdue last season in East Lansing, Mich., 20-13. The high points of the Michigan State lineup come at 149 and 285 pounds, where the Spartans featured ranked individuals. Sophomore Dan Osterman recently earned the No. 20 spot in the country at 149 pounds, boasting a 20-6 record on the year, while classmate Joe Rizqallah was tabbed 20th in the nation at heavyweight this week after defeating Penn State standout Cameron Wade last weekend and improving his record to 17-7. The Spartans have extra depth at heavyweight as Purdue may also see Mike McClure on Sunday, who has been ranked most of the season and has an 18-5 mark on the year.
"Sunday's match is another opportunity for us to compete at home," said Hinkel. "Wrestling on your home turf is a distinct advantage in the Big Ten, and one that Michigan State took advantage of last year against us. We need to defend our turf and return the favor on Sunday."