Purdue Wrestling Season Preview The Boilermakers enter the 2011-12 season with a trio of top-10 ranked wrestlers.
Boilermaker sophomore Cashé Quiroga's return to the lineup has been greatly anticipated.
Oct. 18, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue wrestling team is set to begin the 98th year of competition in school history, opening practice on Oct. 18 with its first tournament scheduled for Nov. 5 at the Eastern Michigan Open. Head coach Scott Hinkel enters his fifth season at the helm, looking to continue building on the success of recent years. He'll do so with a strong returning class and some outstanding new additions to the room.
The Boilermakers are set to hold a pair of preseason events for fans, inviting the public to an open practice at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22, before the Homecoming football game against Illinois, and team wrestle-offs on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 11 a.m. Purdue has plans for a pair of new surprises for home duals in 2011-12, featuring a student section, preliminarily titled "Hinkel's Hooligans", and a new Purdue wrestling mascot.
2010-11 In Review
Hinkel became the first coach at Purdue to go .500 or better in his first four seasons in 2011, turning in an 8-8-1 mark overall and 3-5 record in conference action. The three Big Ten Dual victories were the Boilermakers' most since the 2003-04 season, when they secured four conference wins. Purdue finished ninth at the Big Ten Championships, scoring 51 points, and locked up five bids to the 2011 NCAA Championships in Philadelphia. There they settled for a tie for 39th place in the overall standings with nine points as senior Luke Manuel was just one win shy of All-America status for the second time in his career.
Highlights of the 2010-11 season included wins over Hofstra, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan State and archrival Indiana, along with several additions to the Boilermaker record books. Manuel finished an outstanding career with 118 wins, good for fourth all-time at Purdue, and 276 career takedowns, good for eighth in school history. In addition, his 41 victories in 2009-10 are a single-season Purdue record and he is one of just 18 wrestlers in school history to amass over 100 takedowns in a season (101 in 2009-10). Manuel's career record of 118-40 gives him the 11th-best win percentage in Purdue's history (.747). Classmate Logan Brown left his footprint in Boilermaker history as well, totaling 109 career wins, securing 11th in school history, and is one of six wrestlers to ever collect more than 300 career takedowns at Purdue (335). Like Manuel and Brown, Colton Salazar was a four-time NCAA qualifier for the Boilermakers and finished 16th in school history with 224 career takedowns. Sam Patacsil continued his family's tradition on the Purdue career back point list, finishing with the eighth-highest total in school history at 199.
2011-12 Weight Class Previews
The Boilermakers return a 2011 NCAA qualifier at 125 pounds in sophomore Camden Eppert, who looks to improve upon a solid freshman campaign. Despite his 13-17 overall record, Eppert advanced to the national tournament with a fifth-place showing at the Big Ten Championships, where he tacked on bonus points with a major decision and a fall. Eppert played a major part in team wins at Wisconsin, where he scored his first career pin, and against Michigan State, and earned a second-place effort at the Michigan State Open as well. He was sixth on the team with 36 takedowns and second with 11 reversals.
Offering Eppert competition will be freshman standout Danny Sabatello, who comes to Purdue after an outstanding high school career in Illinois. A two-time state champion, Sabatello went 41-0 as a senior at Stevenson High School en route to the 3A 125-pound championship and the InterMat No. 12 national ranking at his weight class. He plans to start the season at 125 pounds, but may possibly move up to 133 midseason. Other 125 pounders in the room are freshmen Luke Schroeder and Dominique Price. Both qualified for the 2011 Indiana State High School Championships at 112 pounds and look to redshirt their first season.
The return of sophomore Cashé Quiroga to the Boilermaker lineup has been greatly anticipated, and will come at 133 pounds this season. Quiroga became just the fourth true freshman in Purdue's history to earn All-America honors, taking sixth at 125 pounds at the 2010 NCAA Championships. He also set a freshman record with 124 takedowns, good for the sixth-highest single-season total at Purdue, and won 28 matches in his rookie campaign. Quiroga has seen a wealth of attention across the preseason polls, earning marks as high as fifth in the country at 133 pounds, and is eager to get back into competition.
Quiroga will have a phenomenal veteran pushing him for time on the mat in senior Matt Fields. Fields' funky style has made him a matchup nightmare for opponents over the past few seasons, building a 37-24 career record including wins over All-Americans Scotti Sentes of Central Michigan and Ryan Mango of Stanford. Fields is currently 12th in school history with 136 career back points, and remains one pin shy of a spot on the career record list.
The Boilermakers should see an intense battle for mat time at 141 pounds, led by senior Jake Fleckenstein. Fleckenstein saw action at 133 and 141 pounds in 2010, putting together a 12-13 mark en route to a career record of 35-24. His most impressive season to date was at 141 pounds in 2009-10 when he notched a 15-6 mark, including seven major decisions and 91 takedowns, before a season-ending injury.
Hot on his heels are a pair of redshirt freshmen in Nick Lawrence and Brandon Nelsen. Lawrence was a two-time Ohio State High School runner-up at Westlake High School, where he finished with a 127-10 record despite an injury in his senior season, while Nelsen was a 2010 Indiana State High School champions in his final high school season. Nelsen has seen a huge growth spurt over the last year, winning the 119-pound state title as a senior with a 51-1 record at Lawrence North High School. Freshman Rusty Maness adds even more depth to the weight class, coming to Purdue with four consecutive West Virginia state titles.
Purdue has brought in an outstanding transfer student to fill the 149-pound spot in former UNC Greensboro star Ivan Lopouchanski. A two-time NCAA qualifier for the Spartans, Lopouchanski comes to Purdue with a career record of 74-20, including a 41-10 mark in 2010-11. He was one win shy of All-America status last season, advancing to the NCAA Round of 12, and scored bonus points in 16 of his 41 victories, including eight falls. Lopouchanski has seen plenty of attention across the preseason polls, earning marks as high as sixth in the nation at 149 pounds.
Freshmen Brock Norton and Frankie Porras will push Lopouchanski at 149, coming off redshirt seasons. Porras won a pair of Indiana State High School titles, taking the 140-pound title as a senior with a record of 42-1 and capturing the 130-pound crown in his junior year with a mark of 40-1, while Norton was a flawless 39-0 en route to the 135-pound state title for Fort Wayne Carroll in his senior season.
There will be another dogfight for starting time at 157 pounds, pitting junior Tommy Churchard against freshman Pat Robinson. Churchard moves up another weight after opening his career at 141 pounds and seeing action at 149 pounds last season, looking to find his niche in the Purdue lineup at 157. He has a career record of 16-11, including four falls, with a mark of 9-6 at 149 in 2010-11. Robinson has shown a wealth of growth during his redshirt season after finishing third at the Indiana state tournament as a senior at 145 pounds.
Other Boilermakers set to compete at 157 are redshirt freshman Dustin Schulz and true freshmen Cody Robertson and Doug Welch. Schulz and Robertson were state championship qualifiers in Indiana and Texas, respectively, while Welch was the 2011 Indiana State high School Champion at 152 pounds and earned 2011 NHSCA All-America honors as well.
One of the Boilermakers' few returning starters comes in at 165 pounds as Kyle Mosier looks to improve upon a solid rookie season. Mosier went 13-13 in 2010-11, including a 3-5 Big Ten Dual mark and six falls. His high point came in the Minnesota dual on Jan. 21, as he stuck 11th-ranked Golden Gopher Cody Yohn in a thrilling contest. Mosier expects immediate pressure from freshman Chad Welch, who like twin-brother Doug has an exceptional list of credentials. Welch won the 2011 Indiana State Championship at 160 pounds with a flawless 51-0 record and went on to capture the NHSCA Senior National Championship at 152 pounds without allowing a point in the semifinals or finals. Other freshmen looking to compete at 165 are Austin Kunze and Andy Hoselton.
Sophomore Pat Kissel is the favorite to start for the Boilermakers at 174 pounds, but only if he decides not to take a redshirt this season. Kissel saw action at 165 and 184 pounds last season, compiling a 6-8 record with a pair of falls and a pair of major decisions. If Kissel does take the year off, the starting job will be up for grabs between sophomore Cameron Vlahos, redshirt freshman Andy Wiseman and true freshman Drake Stein. Vlahos was 5-2 in limited action as a freshman, including a second-place effort at the Simonson Open, while Wiseman was a state qualifier in his final high school season in Indiana and Stein was a two-time Indiana State Champion at 171 pounds. Stein was also a two-time Fargo All-American (Greco-Roman).
With senior A.J. Kissel moving up to 197 pounds, freshman Braden Atwood looks to take full advantage of the vacant position. Atwood had an impressive redshirt campaign in 2010-11, placing in several open tournaments, and came to Purdue with solid high school credentials. A product of nearby Delphi Community High School, Atwood was a three-time placewinner at the Indiana State High School Championships, including a second-place effort as a senior.
Three-time NCAA Championship qualifier A.J. Kissel makes the jump from 184 to 197 pounds this season, looking to finish an outstanding career with a spot on the All-America platform. Kissel is 77-37 in his collegiate career, including 45 pins, good for third all-time at Purdue and just three shy of the school record. His 19 pins in 2007-08 are the Purdue single-season record, while his 17 falls in 2008-09 are second all-time. Kissel has been tabbed as high as 10th in the nation in the various preseason polls, but is projected to miss the first month of the season after having offseason surgery. Junior Justin Dinius and freshman Preston Quam will battle to take his place in the meantime, looking to bolster their own resumes. Dinius is 5-6 in a limited career thus far, including a fall and a major decision, while Quam was the California State High School runner-up at 189 pounds last year and has an extensive background in international judo competitions.
Purdue's 2010-11 starting heavyweight Roger Vukobratovich returns to the Boilermaker lineup this season, looking to avoid some of the injuries that have interrupted the last two years. Despite a 10-16 record last season, Vukobratovich had impressive wins over Iowa's Jordan Johnson, Oklahoma State's Blake Rosholt and eighth-ranked Brandon Barlow of Kent State, and suffered five losses by one point. Vukobratovich will battle a pair of fellow heavyweights in the room in junior Adam Walls and sophomore Alex White. Walls was 5-4 last season and 11-24 as the Boilermakers' starter the year before, while White compiled an 11-12 record in 2010-11.
The Boilermakers are looking forward to another challenging schedule in 2011-12, but nothing has Purdue fans more excited than the 2012 Big Ten Championships, set for Dec. 3-4 in Mackey Arena in West Lafayette.
Purdue returns to the Eastern Michigan Open to start the season after skipping the event last year, and opens the dual schedule on Nov. 13 at Missouri. The Boilermakers look to win their third straight over the Tigers after upsetting the highly-touted Big 12 standouts in each of the last two years. Purdue returns home to host intrastate rival Indianapolis on Nov. 18, and then heads east to the Journeymen/Asics Northeast Duals on Nov. 26 in Troy, N.Y. The Boilermakers are set for a grueling schedule at the event, facing some of the eastern region's best in Binghamton, Rutgers, Lehigh and American.
December opens with a dual at Northern Illinois on Dec. 1, before the Boilermakers return home to open the Big Ten Dual schedule against Michigan State on Dec. 9. Purdue has won three of the last four against the Spartans, and will look for their second straight win live on BTN.com. The Boilermakers wrap up first-semester action on Dec. 18, heading to Edwardsville, Ill. to square off with NCAA Division I newcomers Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and Division II foe Truman State. Similar to the Eastern Michigan Open, the Boilermakers passed on a team showing at the Midlands Championships in 2010, but return this winter, traveling to Evanston, Ill. on Dec. 28 and 29.
Big Ten Duals resume in full force for the Old Gold and Black in January, opening with Illinois for Military Appreciation Night on Jan. 6. The Boilermakers plan to sport honorary camouflage singlets for the event, which will be auctioned off after the match. Purdue continues the conference slate on Thursday, Jan. 12, at Ohio State, and comes home on Sunday, Jan. 15, to host the highly-ranked Golden Gophers of Minnesota. The Boilermakers' live Big Ten Network opportunity comes on the road on Friday, Jan. 20, at Wisconsin, and they turn around and head to Lincoln, Neb. for their first-ever Big Ten Dual at Nebraska on Sunday, Jan. 22. The Old Gold and Black closes out the month with a home dual against Northwestern on Sunday, Jan. 29, and wrap up Big Ten Duals at archrival Indiana on Sunday, Feb. 5.
The Boilermakers head to Ithaca, N.Y. for the debut of the new format of the NWCA National Duals as one of six teams headed to the Cornell Regional, Feb. 10-12. In addition to Purdue and the host Big Red, the preliminary site includes Illinois, American, Oklahoma and Central Michigan. A victory at the regional tournament would send the Boilermakers to a NWCA Final Four site to be determined; otherwise they'll head to Toledo, Ohio for a neutral-site contest with the Chippewas of Central Michigan on Sunday, Feb. 19.
Purdue is set to host the Big Ten Championships for the first time since 2000, taking the tournament into legendary and newly remodeled Mackey Arena on March 3 and 4. The Boilermakers were supposed to host last season, but the construction pushed Purdue's chance to host the championship back a season. Purdue hopes to crown its first conference champion since 2004 on its home turf and advance its team to the NCAA Championships, set for March 15-17 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The Boilermakers last trip to St. Louis brought home a 23rd-place team finish and an All-America award for former Boilermaker Jake Patacsil.