Oct. 2, 2013
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue wrestling team announced its 2013-14 schedule Wednesday. Half of the Boilermakers' 14 duals will be against teams that finished among the top 20 at the 2013 NCAA Championships. They will take on familiar Big Ten Conference foes, but also a handful of opponents reappear on the schedule for the first time in years. The schedule also features three marquee tournaments, plus the 2014 Big Ten Championships and 2014 NCAA Championships.
"First and foremost, it's probably one of the toughest schedules that I can ever remember," head wrestling coach Scott Hinkel said. "We've got Iowa, Penn State and Minnesota. Obviously all the Big Ten schools are always solid, but those three, those are the three big dogs. Illinois and Ohio State are going to be right in there too. They are all solid teams up and down our schedule. If you look at the preseason rankings, you're going to see a lot of our opponents in there."
Hinkel will get his first look at his Boilermakers at the Michigan State Open on Nov. 9. The first home dual of the season is one to be remembered as Purdue will celebrate 100 years of wrestling while hosting Duke on Nov. 16. It will be the return of former assistant coach Glen Lanham, who is now at the Blue Devil helm, and two legendary Boilermaker grapplers, Jake Patascil and Ben Wissel, who are assistants under Lanham.
"We're hoping to have a large number of alumni back, many for the first time in a long time," Hinkel said. "We want it to be an amazing weekend. We want to go out and compete hard and win. We want to make it a weekend to remember."
November concludes with a two-dual road weekend, traveling to Minneapolis for an early conference collision against Minnesota on Nov. 22, followed by a trip to Edwardsville, Ill., to take on SIUE on Nov. 24.
A pair of tournaments and a southern dual make up December's slate. Purdue will trek west for the 32nd Annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Collegiate Wrestling Invitational Dec. 6-7, where over 40 teams are slated to compete in the tournament. The Boilermakers will go from Las Vegas to Lawrenceville, Ga., to take on Tennessee-Chattanooga for the first time since 2003 on Dec. 15. Closing out 2013 is the Midlands Championships Dec. 29-30 in Evanston, Ill.
"Vegas and Midlands simulate the national tournament the best," Hinkel said. "We've got to get our guys set on that two-day grind. It's all little building blocks to the Big Ten Championships and the national tournament. The tournaments are where we really need to make some strides and understand how to compete and to be ready to wrestle again. If you're not in the championship bracket, you can't feel sorry for yourself, you've got to go grind it out and place. I think those two tournaments do a good job of that."
The start of 2014 could be the toughest stretch for the Boilermakers. On Jan. 3, they will travel to Bradley-Bourbonnais High School in Bradley, Ill., for a neutral-site dual with Iowa, followed by a trip to Ann Arbor to face Michigan on Jan. 10. Two days later, Purdue will meet three-time defending Big Ten and NCAA champion Penn State in State College.
"That grind there with Midlands, Iowa, Michigan and Penn State, we really got to be ready for," Hinkel said. "It's in a crunch time, halfway through the season. We've got to be tough there, stay sharp and focused."
On Jan. 19, Purdue will take part in the Wendy's Duals hosted by Ashland in Ashland, Ohio. The Boilermakers will take on the Eagles, who are led by former Purdue grappler Josh Hutchens, and Northern Illinois.
Purdue returns to West Lafayette on Jan. 26 in conference action as Nebraska comes to Holloway Gymnasium. It is the first of four-straight Big Ten duals for the Boilermakers, who then travel to Bloomington to face in-state rival Indiana on Jan. 31. Back-to-back home duals feature Ohio State and Illinois on Feb. 3 and 7, respectively. The dual season comes to a close against Northern Iowa on Feb. 16 with a trip to Cedar Falls, Iowa.
The Big Ten Championships will take place March 8-9 at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., and the NCAA Championships make its return to Oklahoma City March 20-22 in the Chesapeake Energy Arena.