Nov. 21, 2013
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The No. 20 Purdue wrestling team (1-0) will hit the road for a pair of weekend duals. The Boilermakers will first collide with second-ranked Minnesota in the Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis Friday at 7:30 p.m. CT and on Sunday they will travel to the Vadalabene Center in Edwardsville, Ill., to battle SIU-Edwardsville at 1 p.m. CT. Live stats from both duals will be available via TrackWrestling and Gopher All-Access will be broadcasting Friday’s dual.
“This weekend will be a good test for our guys,” head wrestling coach Scott Hinkel said. “It comes down to staying consistent, being excited, getting better each week, winning the emotional battles that come at you and to focus on the task at hand.”
Friday’s dual with Minnesota (0-0) is the Big Ten opener for both squads and is the first dual of the season for the Golden Gophers after wrestling in a pair of open tournaments the past two weekends. They crowned eight champions at the Bison Open hosted by North Dakota State on Nov. 9 and had seven titlists at the Harold Nichols Cyclone Open hosted by Iowa State on Nov. 16.
Minnesota’s lineup has held steady from last year’s squad that went 16-2 overall and 7-1 in conference action with seven returning All-Americans. Nine Golden Gophers are ranked, seven of which are among the top 10 in their respective weight class, led by two-time defending 285-pound national champion Tony Nelson (9-0).
Purdue is coming off of a 27-7 win over Duke on Nov. 16. The Boilermakers won eight of 10 bouts, including a 1:43 stick of 2013 NCAA qualifier Brandon Gambucci by redshirt freshman Kyle Ayersman (4-2) at 133 pounds. At 197, No. 16/17 Braden Atwood (5-1) defeated then-No. 19/18 and NCAA qualifier Bonner Hartmann, 10-3, and Brandon Nelsen used a reverse and a two-point nearfall to force sudden victory. The 149-pounder got the match-winning takedown with eight seconds remaining in sudden victory for a 7-5 decision to push his record to 5-2.
“We have confidence from the Duke dual,” Hinkel said. “We’re going up against the second-ranked team [in Minnesota], but that’s what the Big Ten is all about. We’re going to keep it simple and wrestle for seven minutes. We keep telling these guys that we need to be consistent in our preparation. Minnesota should have an electric crowd and environment that will be good for our guys. It doesn’t matter if we’re wrestling in a hostile environment or not because no matter what, we’ll be in front of wrestling fans and that gives us a chance to showcase our team.”
SIU-Edwardsville is in its second season as an NCAA Division I program and is led by first-year head coach Jeremy Spates. Spates took over the Cougars’ program after spending the past four seasons as an assistant at Cornell and the five previous seasons as an assistant under his father, Jack Spates, at Oklahoma. His team enters Sunday’s home-opener at 0-3, falling to No. 7 Illinois (38-3), Arizona State (32-3) and Ouachita Baptist (26-15) in the Chicago Quad on Nov. 16. The Cougars won a combined five bouts, two of which were by Deshoun White, who wrestled at 184 against the Sun Devils and at 174 versus Ouachita Baptist.
“No matter how Friday goes, we cannot have a letdown against SIU-Edwardsville,” Hinkel said. “The grind of this weekend is what builds toughness; whatever comes your way, you deal with it. I’m sure they [SIU-Edwardsville] will be geared up to face us since they are a second-year [NCAA] Division I program and have a new coach with [Jeremy] Spates. He has some tough kids.”
It will be the third consecutive season that Purdue has faced the Cougars and the 11th meeting all-time. The Boilermakers own the series 6-4, but are 1-2 when wrestling on SIU-Edwardsville’s home mat. The two losses came in 1977 and 1983, but they dismantled the Cougars on their 2011 trip, 47-3.