WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue wrestling team opens its 2012-13 home schedule on Saturday, hosting seventh-ranked Missouri and No. 23 Old Dominion for a series of duals in Holloway Gymnasium. Action will start at 11 a.m. with the Tigers and Monarchs squaring off, followed by Purdue and Old Dominion at 1 p.m. and Purdue and Missouri at 3 p.m.
"We're excited to bring in two teams of the caliber of Missouri and Old Dominion for our home opener," said Boilermaker head coach Scott Hinkel. "Both of these teams have several outstanding wrestlers and we see this as an opportunity to show how outstanding our guys are. We're going to put on a good show for the fans."
Purdue opened its season at the Eastern Michigan Open last weekend, crowning two champions and placing nine individuals. Sophomore Brandon Nelsen and 15th-ranked senior Ivan Lopouchanski led the way, winning the 141-pound and 149-pound titles, respectively, while 19th-ranked junior Camden Eppert was third at 125 pounds and sophomore Pat Robinson was third at 165 pounds and freshman Chad Welch was second at 174 pounds.
The Boilermakers were without the services of returning NCAA qualifiers Cashé Quiroga and Braden Atwood last weekend, but both are scheduled to make their season debuts on Saturday. A junior, Quiroga is ranked eighth in the country at 133 pounds, and was a 2010 All-American at 125 pounds, while Atwood, a sophomore, is tabbed 16th nationally and is set to make his career debut at 197 pounds.
"We're excited to get Cashé and Braden on the mat," said Hinkel. "I know it killed them both to sit out last weekend, so everyone is anxious to see them in action."
The Monarchs are paced by their five returning NCAA qualifiers, four of which are ranked nationally at their weight classes. Junior Justin LeValle headlines the group as the No. 11 wrestler nationally at 141 pounds, while classmate John Nicholson is 15th at 157 pounds. Fellow junior Tristan Warner is tabbed 16th at 165 pounds and junior Scott Festejo is 20th in the country at 133 pounds. Sophomore Jerome Robinson qualified for nationals last year at 125 pounds, but enters the weekend unranked at the weight. Old Dominion opened its season last weekend at the Clarion Knight Point Open, earning two titles and placing 11 individuals.
Saturday marks the season-opening matches for a highly-touted Missouri squad that features a ranked individual at all 10 weight classes, including five in the top-10. The Tigers start off their lineup with junior Alan Waters and senior Nathan McCormick at 125 and 133 pounds. Waters is ranked sixth at 125 pounds, while McCormick follows at ninth in the nation at 133. The top end of the Missouri lineup is equally as tough, featuring No. 8 senior Mike Larson at 184, sixth-ranked senior Brent Haynes at 197 and fourth-ranked Dom Bradley at heavyweight. Bradley is fresh off an exhibition win at the NWCA All-Star Classic last weekend, and will be in a Tiger singlet for the first time since 2011, following an Olympic redshirt last season.
Purdue is 2-2 all-time against Old Dominion, dropping the last two contests in the series, but Saturday's match will be the first-ever between the two squads in West Lafayette. The Boilermakers have a 14-9-1 all-time advantage over Missouri, including a 7-2-1 edge at home. The Tigers snapped Purdue's two-match win streak last November, taking a 21-15 win in Columbia, Mo., at the Hearns Center.
Saturday the Boilermakers will honor No-Shave November and will award a prize to the best facial hair in attendance. Tickets for the duals are five dollars and will be available for purchase at the Purdue Athletics Ticket Office in Mackey Arena prior to the duals. Both of the Boilermakers' matches will be available via live webstream on Boilermaker All-Access and the Big Ten Digital Network. In addition, The Open Mat will be on hand with a live blog and audio broadcast and live stats will be available at TrackWrestling.com.