Oct. 17, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue wrestling team and head coach Scott Hinkel announced the 2012-13 team captains Tuesday night, naming senior Tommy Churchard, juniors Camden Eppert and Cashé Quiroga and sophomore Braden Atwood. Quiroga is a captain for the second straight year, while his three co-captains earned the status for the first time in their careers.
The Boilermakers' elect their team captains each year by a team vote, as instructed and empowered by Hinkel. "It's important that they choose their own leaders," said Hinkel. "These are the guys they have to go to battle with, and so they need to make the decision. It not only ensures they respect their team captains, but also makes it a greater honor for the guys elected."
Churchard is the Boilermakers' projected starter at 157 pounds, coming off his first career 20-win season and his first NCAA Championship qualification. The fifth-year senior from Valparaiso, Ind., has earned national preseason rankings from a pair of polls, being tabbed No. 22 by D1CollegeWrestling.net and 24th by WrestlingReport.com.
Eppert is projected to start at 125 pounds for the third straight season for the Boilermakers, qualifying for the NCAA Championships in each of his first two seasons. After going 2-2 at the national tournament last year, Eppert is ranked in all four preseason polls currently available, recognized as high as 13th in the nation (WIN Magazine).
Quiroga continues to be Purdue's top-ranked wrestler, and after an All-America showing as a freshman in 2010 and another NCAA qualification in 2012 he's ranked in the top-10 in the nation in all four polls. The two-time Boilermaker captain is already on the career takedowns list for the Purdue record books, and looks to climb the podium for the second time in his career this season.
Atwood becomes the second Boilermaker sophomore to earn captain's status in as many years, following Quiroga's leadership tab last season. After qualifying for the NCAA Championship at 184 pounds last year, Atwood climbs to 197 pounds for 2012-13, and is still earning national recognition. Like Eppert and Quiroga, he's ranked in all four polls, despite two still classifying him as a 184-pounder.
The Boilermakers will decided their official starting lineup next week with wrestle-offs, starting Tuesday and Wednesday and having the finals on Saturday, Oct. 27, in the Blake Wrestling Center in Lambert Fieldhouse. The practice will be open to the public and will start at noon.