March 7, 2013
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue wrestling team enters the postseason this weekend, heading to the University of Illinois for the 2013 Big Ten Championships. The Boilermakers are coming off of their best dual season in recent history, posting a 17-6 overall mark and 5-3 record in Big Ten Duals, and look to carry that momentum into postseason tournament action.
The championship will begin Saturday at 10 a.m. (CT) at Assembly Hall, continuing until the Big Ten finals on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. All-session tickets are $40 for reserved seating, $36 for general admission and $24 for students and youth, while single-session tickets range from $12-to-$22.
While the Boilermakers had five individuals earn top-eight preliminary seeds, final seedings and championship brackets will not be available until after Friday's coaches' meeting. There will be randomly-selected preliminary bouts at five of the 10 weight classes (125, 133, 141, 157, 184), while every wrestler will be seeded at the other five weights and matchups will be assigned accordingly.
"We try not to get too caught up in the seeding and who we're going to wrestle," said Purdue sixth-year head coach Scott Hinkel. "Things change at the coaches' meeting almost every year so there isn't much of a point in getting ready to wrestle a specific guy. We're just focusing on getting ready to compete and do the things that have resulted in success all season."
Senior Ivan Lopouchanski was tabbed the Boilermakers' highest preliminary seed for the second straight season, earning the No. 3 spot at 149 pounds after going 23-1 on the year (7-1 Big Ten Duals). Sophomores Brandon Nelsen and Braden Atwood earned career-high seedings as they were named the No. 5 seeds at 141 and 197 pounds, respectively, while juniors Camden Eppert and Cashé Quiroga were tabbed the No. 6 seeds at 125 and 133 pounds.
As a result of earning at least eight automatic bids to the NCAA Championships, the Big Ten coaches seeded every entry at 149, 165, 174, 197 and 285 pounds. Therefore sophomore Pat Robinson, freshman Chad Welch and junior Alex White received preliminary seeds at their respective weights as Robinson and Welch were tabbed No. 10 at 165 and 174, while White is the No. 12 seed at 285 pounds.
Senior Tommy Churchard fell just shy of earning a bid for the conference at 157, despite top-33 rankings in the coaches' panel and RPI, and will draw into the field on Saturday. Churchard is looking to qualify for his second straight NCAA Championship after earning an at-large bid in 2012 and is just one win shy of a 20-win season.
"The only thing that is certain at the Big Ten Championships is that anything can happen," said Hinkel. "In almost 30 years of being around this tournament I've learned that you can completely change your season, for the better or for the worst. You have to come ready to compete no matter if you're the top seed or bottom seed."
Defending Big Ten and NCAA Champion Penn State heads to Illinois with the most No. 1 preliminary seeds, earning the top spots at 165, 184 and 197 pounds. Iowa, Ohio State and Minnesota each had a pair of No. 1 seeds as the Hawkeyes secured top marks at 125 and 157, Ohio State nabbed the No. 1 mark at 133 and 141 and Minnesota has the top wrestler at 174 and 285. Michigan was the only other school to have a top-seeded wrestler, earning the No. 1 seed at 149 pounds. The Golden Gophers have an ample supporting cast as they have a conference-best four individuals with No. 2 seeds.
The Boilermakers have their sights set on their first top-six finish since 2010 and hope to crown their first Big Ten Champion since Ryan Lange's 174-pound title in 2004. Purdue last earned a Big Ten team title in 1954 and last earned a top-three finish in 1987. Their last Big Ten Championship visit to Illinois yielded a seventh-place finish and 55.5 team points as assistant coach Chris Fleeger finished third at 125 pounds in his freshman season. The Boilermakers won one of their six Big Ten Championships in school history at Illinois, claiming the conference crown in 1948.
For more information on the Big Ten Championships, including links to live video, ticket information and directions to Assembly Hall, visit the championship home page.