WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue wrestling team continues its dual schedule this Saturday, heading to Dekalb, Ill., for the Northern Illinois Duals. The Boilermakers are set to face a trio of opponents, matching up with Loras College, Calumet College of St. Joseph and the host Huskies, starting at 10 a.m. (CT) in NIU's Victor E. Court.
The Boilermakers opened their dual and home slate last weekend, hosting then-23rd-ranked Old Dominion and seventh-ranked Missouri in Holloway Gymnasium. After a 29-9 win over the Monarchs and 23-9 loss to the Tigers, Purdue earned its first national ranking of 2012-13, replacing Old Dominion as the No. 23 team in the country. Senior Ivan Lopouchanski and sophomore Pat Robinson led the weekend effort, posting 2-0 efforts at 149 pounds and 165 pounds, respectively.
"It was a solid start to our season," said Boilermaker head coach Scott Hinkel. "We were happy about handling business against Old Dominion, but expected a better effort against Missouri. It's a great place to build from and we'll look to take the next step this weekend."
The majority of the Boilermaker lineup will stay intact this weekend, but Purdue will be without the services of eighth-ranked, 133-pound junior captain Cashé Quiroga. A minor injury has nagged him since the Old Gold and Black Dual on Oct. 27, and he re-aggravated the injury last week and again in the dual with Old Dominion, forcing him to sit out a potential top-10 clash with Missouri's ninth-ranked Nathan McCormick. He'll forgo this weekend's duals with the goal of returning to the lineup for a series of ranked showdowns at the Northeast Duals in Troy, N.Y. on Nov. 24.
"It's a long season and the most important thing is to be healthy," said Hinkel. "We're going to give (Quiroga) a chance to heal up, get comfortable and be ready to go. We're very fortunate to have the quality of a guy like Danny Sabatello to compete in his place this weekend, and whenever else we need to call on him."
Sabatello will get the nod at 133 pounds in Quiroga's place, entering the weekend at 4-2 in his first collegiate season. He took fifth at the season-opening Eastern Michigan Open, racking up an impressive 69 points in five matches, and while falling to McCormick in the Missouri dual, he scored a late takedown against the ninth-ranked Tiger, preventing a major decision victory and bonus points in the team score.
This weekend will also feature key action for senior Tommy Churchard and Braden Atwood, who have had limited starts to their seasons. Churchard wrestled just one match at 157 pounds at the Eastern Michigan Open before cautiously defaulting due to injury, and then split matches at last weekend's duals. He'll look to build on his 2-1 record on Saturday, expected to wrestle all three contests at his weight. Atwood, ranked 15th in the country at 197 pounds, saw his career debut at his new weight on Saturday, topping Old Dominion's Jacob Henderson, 5-2, before falling to sixth-ranked Missouri senior Brent Haynes, 8-2.
The Boilermakers will open Saturday's action with NCAA Division III opponent Loras College, marking the first dual of the season for the Duhawks and the second-ever meeting in the schools' history. Purdue won the inaugural matchup, earning a 23-13 win in 2004, also at the Northern Illinois Duals, but then held in LaGrange, Ill. Loras features a pair of undefeated wrestlers in its lineup in sophomore 174-pounder Stephan Birt and freshman heavyweight James Buss.
Calumet College of St. Joseph (CCSJ) has squared off with the Boilermakers just once in school history as well, and like Loras trails the all-time series, 0-1. Purdue traveled to face the Crimson Wave at their place in 2010 and dominated, posting a 39-0 shutout victory. CCSJ has seen limited action early in the season, but did post a trio of placewinners at the Knox College Invitational last weekend in junior Anthony Hawkins and sophomores Eric Johnson and Thomas Day. Johnson took third place at 197 pounds, pinning four of his opponents, while Hawkins and Day were sixth at 125 and 285 pounds, respectively.
Saturday will mark the 27th meeting between Purdue and Northern Illinois, with the Boilermakers holding a 17-8-1 advantage in the all-time series. Purdue has won three in a row over the Huskies and 15 of the last 16 matchups, including a hard-fought, 19-15 victory in Dekalb last season at NIU's Showcase Meet in the NIU Convocation Center. The series is nearly equal on NIU's home turf as Purdue holds just a 5-4 edge overall. The Boilermakers were 1-1 the last time they traveled to the Northern Illinois Duals in 2004.
Live updates of this weekend's action will be available via TrackWrestling.com and the Boilermakers' Twitter account (@PurdueWrestling).