Oct. 9, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue wrestling team opens its 2012-13 season on Saturday, welcoming all fans to come watch its first practice at 10 a.m. in Lambert Fieldhouse. The Boilermakers will move the mats out of the Blake Wrestling Center and into the fieldhouse, where fans gathering for Saturday's homecoming football game can wander in and check out the action.
Head coach Scott Hinkel heads into his sixth season at the helm and is the only coach in school history to lead the Boilermakers to a .500 or better record in every year of his tenure. Purdue returns five NCAA Championship qualifiers, six Big Ten Championship placewinners and seven starters as the Boilermakers look to take the program to new heights in 2012-13.
The Boilermakers look forward to retaining the veteran services of junior Camden Eppert at 125 pounds, who is the favorite to be the starter at the weight for the third straight season. A two-time NCAA Championship qualifier, Eppert is ranked in several of the preseason polls, including a No. 13 ranking from WIN Magazine. After dealing with a rocky 2011-12 season that included a midseason bout with mononucleosis, Eppert sealed up his trip to nationals with a sixth-place effort at the Big Ten Championships and notched a 2-2 mark in St. Louis.
Support at 125 is expected from redshirt freshman Dominique Price and true freshman Kyle Ayersman. Price was 6-8 in unattached competition last season at 125 pounds, including a pair of major decisions, while Ayersman comes to Purdue with a sterling high school resume that includes three Indiana state titles and 193 wins. Ayersman was an InterMat Wrestling Top-100 recruit, finishing the year ranked nationally at 126 pounds, and is probable to redshirt the 2012-13 season.
Purdue will have another familiar face in the lineup at 133 pounds as two-time NCAA qualifier and 2012 All-American Cashé Quiroga is set for his junior season. Earning Most Outstanding Wrestler honors and leading the Boilermakers in takedowns for the second time in his career, Quiroga posted 22 wins in 2011-12, and is a consensus top-10 wrestler at 133 pounds in the 2012 preseason polls. His 221 career takedowns are already 17th all-time at Purdue as he looks to become the third wrestler in school history to post multiple 100-takedown seasons in his career.
Quiroga will get ample competition for time at 133 from redshirt freshman Danny Sabatello, who enters his first season of varsity wrestling after an 11-9 unattached record last year. Sabatello was a two-time Illinois state champion in high school, and finished his first season at Purdue in strong fashion, finishing third at the National Collegiate Open at 133. Four of his final six wins last season came with bonus points, scoring a fall, a technical fall and a pair of major decisions.
Sophomore Luke Schroeder will bump up from 125 to 133 this season after providing support at 125 in his true freshman campaign. Schroeder filled in for the injured and ill Camden Eppert through most of December and January, finishing 9-14 on the year.
Competition will be deep and fierce for the Boilermakers' starting job at 141 pounds as the outstanding trio of sophomores Brandon Nelsen and Nick Lawrence and senior Jake Fleckenstein return for the Old Gold and Black. Nelsen saw the majority of the action in 2011-12, posting a 21-13 record, including a 2-2 mark at the Big Ten Championships. He matched the No. 17 mark in Purdue's single-season history with nine falls, and had wins over a trio of wrestlers who are getting preseason recognition this fall.
Classmate Nick Lawrence went just 7-13 in his first season of varsity competition, but is prepared to come back strong in 2012-13 and battle for the starting nod. Lawrence had a key win for the Boilermakers' victory at Northern Illinois last year, and took highly-ranked Hunter Steiber (Ohio State) and Jake Sueflohn (Nebraska) to the wire in Big Ten duals on the road.
Senior Jake Fleckenstein received an NCAA medical hardship to return this season and looks to make the most of his final year. After a solid start to last season, which saw Fleckenstein take second at the Eastern Michigan Open, the injury bug bit again, keeping the Boilermaker junior on the shelf through the majority of the year.