WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The 23rd-ranked Purdue wrestling team travels to Troy, N.Y. this weekend for the Journeymen/ASICS Northeast Duals at Hudson Valley Community College. In the second straight year the Boilermakers have attended the event, they will wrestle four duals on the day, facing Army, Hofstra, No. 16 Maryland and Princeton.
"With some of the changes over the past few years regarding NCAA qualification, I think these dual events have become increasingly important," said Purdue head coach Scott Hinkel. "Our guys are going out to wrestle four tough, NCAA Division I opponents, see some guys we wouldn't normally get a change to wrestle against and continue building their resumes for the postseason."
The Boilermakers enter the weekend at 4-1 in dual competition, fresh off a three-match sweep at the Northern Illinois Duals, where they outscored the opposition, 146-0. Six of the 10 Purdue starters have earned national rankings in at least four polls at their respective weight classes, led by junior 133-pounder Cashé Quiroga and senior 149-pounder Ivan Lopouchanski. Quiroga, ranked eighth in the nation, is just 1-0 on the season and sat out last weekend's action to nurse a minor injury, but is scheduled to return on Saturday. Freshman Danny Sabatello has been impressive in his stead, building a 7-2 overall mark, including three wins last weekend. Lopouchanski is tabbed as high as 12th in the country at 149 pounds and is a perfect 9-0 on the year.
Most recently earning spots in the polls are sophomore Brandon Nelsen and senior Tommy Churchard, entering the national top-20 at 141 and 157 pounds, respectively. Nelsen is 7-1 with a pair of falls and a pair of major decisions, while Churchard is 5-1 with a fall and a technical fall to his credit. Both will continue to be tested this weekend as they look to increase their notoriety on the national scene.
"Brandon and Tommy have been doing a great job, and we're excited they're being noticed," said Hinkel. "We try not to look at the rankings much, knowing that we have to go out and wrestle hard every match and beat the guy they put in front of us, but it's nice to be recognized as one of the best in the country at your weight."
The Boilermakers open Saturday with Army, facing the Black Knights for sixth time in school history. Army holds a 3-2 advantage in the series history, including a 2-1 advantage on neutral turf. Purdue won the last meeting, taking a 26-10 victory at Clarion University in 1991, and looks to even the series this weekend. Saturday will be the first dual of the season for Army, who is led by senior 149-pounder Daniel Young. At 8-5 on the season, the Bloomington, Ind. native is ranked nationally, earning marks as high as 18th in the country with six bonus point victories to his credit.
Purdue has won each of the two meetings with Hofstra in series history, and looks to make it three in a row in Saturday's second dual of the day. The Pride enter the weekend at 0-2, with losses to Big Ten rivals Minnesota and Wisconsin, and feature a trio of ranked individuals at the lower end of their lineup. Senior Steve Bonnano and junior Luke Vaith are ranked in the top 10 at 125 and 141 pounds, and junior Jamie Franco has earned national recognition at 133 pounds.
Future Big Ten Conference member Maryland heads to N.Y. ranked 16th in the nation with a 2-0 record. Five Terrapin starters are ranked in the top 20 in the nation at their weight class, including 174-pound senior Josh Asper. Asper is tagged second in the country by AWN and third by InterMat, sitting 4-0 on the season. He's followed in the lineup by 10th-ranked juniors Jimmy Sheptock and Christian Boley at 184 pounds and 197 pounds, while sophomore Geoffrey Alexander is a consensus top-15 pick at 133 pounds. Junior Shane Gentry wraps up the list at 125 pounds, where AWN has him 13th in the nation at 6-0 on the season.
The Boilermakers are scheduled to wrap up the trip with the second meeting in school history with Princeton. Purdue shutout the Tigers in 2004 at the Lone Star Duals in Grand Prairie, Texas, 42-0, and look to remain undefeated in the all-time series on Saturday. Senior Garrett Frey is one of the more notable wrestlers in the Princeton lineup, earning national rankings for the past few seasons at 125 pounds before moving up to 133 this season, where he has a 3-4 record.