March 13, 2013
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue wrestling team will send five individuals to the 2013 NCAA Championships next week at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, as the NCAA unveiled this year's championship brackets on Wednesday. Senior Tommy Churchard joined the team's four automatic qualifiers, who earned their bids at the Big Ten Championships, earning an at-large berth for the second straight season.
"We're thrilled for Tommy to have a chance to continue his season at the national championships, especially since he's a senior," said Boilermaker head coach Scott Hinkel. "On the other hand we really feel for our other guys who didn't get at-large bids, especially since we think they deserved to be there."
Juniors Camden Eppert and Cashé Quiroga were eligible for at-large bids at 125 and 133 pounds, respectively, but neither got the nod after missing out on automatic spots at the Big Ten Championships. Eppert posted a 23-13 record at 125 pounds, earning an qualifying bid for the conference, but finished eighth in the tournament, while Quiroga was 10-3 on the season at 133 pounds and also earning a spot for the conference weight class, but going 0-2 at the Big Ten Championships. Quiroga missed a large portion of the season due to various injuries, resulting in his limited appearances.
Four individuals earned automatic bids to the NCAA Championships via their placement at the Big Ten Championships, held last weekend at the University of Illinois. Sophomore Brandon Nelsen secured his spot with a fourth-place showing at 141 pounds, while senior Ivan Lopouchanski locked up his bid with a third-place effort at 149 pounds. Freshman Chad Welch slipped into the field at 174 pounds with his eighth-place finish, while sophomore Braden Atwood earned an automatic spot at 197 with an eighth-place showing.
Nelsen finished the year at 25-12 and will rematch the No. 12 seed Chris Mecate of Old Dominion in the first round after pinning the Monarch freshman in November. Lopouchanski is the only Boilermaker to earn a national seed, being named the No. 10 after going 27-2 on the season. He'll meet Bloomsburg's Josh Roosa in the first round of the tournament. Churchard draws a rematch from last year's NCAA Championships, facing Clarion's fifth-seeded James Fleming, while Welch will face Ohio freshman Cody Walters after posting a 22-13 mark on the year. Atwood went 25-10 on the year and will battle the No. 11 seed at 197 pounds, Oklahoma State's Blake Rosholt.
Action begins Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena, and you can get live updates of the Boilermakers' progress at the @PurdueWrestling Twitter Page.