Wrestlers Host Michigan State on Friday



February 11, 1999

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The 15th-ranked Purdue Boilermakers (14-3-1, 2-1-1 in Big Ten) will continue its four-match month homestand on Feb. 12 with a dual meet against Michigan State (4-8, 1-5) at 7 p.m. in the Intercollegiate Athletic Facility. On Sunday, the Boilers travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., to battle the University of Michigan (8-4, 3-2). The meet with the Wolverines is slated to begin at 1 p.m. Purdue (2-1-1) is currently in fifth place in the Big Ten, while Michigan (3-2) is in sixth place and Michigan State (1-5) is in 10th. Minnesota is on top of the conference with a perfect 7-0 mark.

Last weekend, Michigan beat in-state rival Michigan State, 22-11 on Feb. 5, while on Sunday (Feb. 7), U of M lost to the Hawkeyes, 29-12 in front of 4,248 fans in Carver Hawkeye Arena. Following the loss to Michigan, the Spartans were beaten by Oklahoma State 31-4 in East. Michigan State's Nick Murashvili was the only Spartan to go 2-0 for the weekend and had the only win against Oklahoma State. In two major decision victories, he outscored his opponents 23-5.

"This is going to be another tough weekend for us," Purdue assistant coach Scott Hinkel says. "There are a lot of good match ups and every match will be crucial. One thing that sticks out about this weekend is the fact that there is no clear-cut favorites."

The Boilermakers are coming off a recent win over No. 19 Northwestern, 23-16 on Feb. 5. Purdue senior's Phil Holmgren at 184 pounds and Willie Wineberg at 157, sophomore's Eric Kerkhof at 149 and Evan Robinson at 133 and freshmen Jacob Vercelli at heavyweight and Jason Silverstein at 125 pounds picked up wins over the Wildcats last Friday.

For the second straight weekend, Purdue will be without the services of senior and returning NCAA qualifier David Pierce. Pierce has been hampered by an injury, but Hinkel expects the fifth-year senior to be ready to go at Big Ten's.

"David is a tough competitor," Hinkel says. "With Tom (Erickson) working with him, I feel he will ready to go at the conference championships."

The Boilers are led by Silverstein's 25 wins (25-4 overall, 5-1 Big Ten.) However, the Ramsey, N.J. native, ranked fifth in the Big Ten will have his hands full this weekend, as he will tangle with third ranked Chris Viola of Michigan.

At 133 pounds, Evan Robinson (17-4, 1-2) will have his back to the wall, as he will battle the Big Ten's top performer in MSU's Pat McNamara (24-5, 11-1) on Friday and third-ranked Joe Warren of Michigan on Sunday. McNamara is currently ranked third in the nation and Warren sixth.

Freshman Carlos Blanco (15-9, 2-3) has recovered from a cold that kept him out of action last weekend and returns to face 20th-ranked Issac Miller (24-11, 9-4) of MSU and the Big Ten's No. 1 ranked 141-pounder Damion Logan of Michigan.

Also returning this weekend for the Boilers will be senior James Crnich (22-5, 4-4) at 174-pounds. He will face No. 14 William Hill (25-10, 7-6) of MSU and fifth-ranked Otto Olson (27-3, 13-0) of Michigan. Olson is ranked third in the Big Ten, while Hill is fifth. Olson was named the Big Ten's Wrestler-of-the-Week this past weekend for his efforts of beating MSU's William Hill and Iowa's Gabe McMahan.

Another anticipated match-up that will take place will be at the 184-pound weight class with Purdue senior Phil Holmgren, who is presently riding a six-match winning streak. The Bonita, Calif., native will face Michigan's No. 14 ranked freshman Andy Hrovat (24-10, 7-5). Last weekend, Hrovat defeated Iowa's Paul Jenn 8-5 to pick up his third straight win. He is just one win shy of moving into 10th place all-time for victories by a Michigan freshman.

"Phil is a real competitor," Hinkel says. "Right now he is very hungry and wrestling extremely well."

There are currently 10 schools ranked in the top 25 in the nation from the Big Ten Conference according to the National Wrestling Coaches Association most recent poll. No. 2 Minnesota, No. 3 Iowa, No. 8 Michigan, No. 11 Illinois, No. 10 Penn State, No. 15 Purdue, No. 21 Michigan State, No. 23 Indiana and Ohio State is ranked 25th.