WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue wrestling team hosts its final action of the first semester this weekend, facing Iowa Western Community College and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) on Sunday in Holloway Gymnasium. Matches start at 11 a.m. with the Reivers and the Cougars, followed by Purdue and Iowa Western at 1 p.m. and Purdue and SIUE at 3 p.m.
The Boilermakers enter the weekend at 7-2 in dual competition, ranked 21st in the latest USA Today/NWCA/AWN Coaches Poll with 194 votes. Eight of the 10 Purdue starters have earned national recognition from one of the six individual polls this season, but the Boilermakers will be without two of them for this weekend's action. Junior 133-pound standout Cashé Quiroga will continue healing up from injuries, while senior 157-pounder Tommy Churchard will take some much earned time off.
"We've had a solid start to the season, and we'll look to keep that going on Sunday," said Boilermaker head coach Scott Hinkel. "We've had a tough week, traveling over 14 hours by bus last weekend and finishing up the semester with finals, and that makes us anxious to get back on the mat. I expect some great wrestling out of our guys."
Last time out, the Boilermakers posted six placewinning performances at the University of Northern Iowa Open, headlined by sophomore Braden Atwood's 197-pound title and 4-0 day. Sitting 12-1 on the season, Atwood is ranked as high as 10th in the national polls and leads the Boilermakers with 36 team points in dual competition on the year. Also reaching the podium were Churchard, freshman Chad Welch, junior Camden Eppert and sophomores Pat Robinson and Patrick Kissel. Welch was second at 174 pounds, Eppert, Churchard and Robinson were fifth at 125, 157 and 165, respectively, while Kissel was sixth at 184.
"We were happy with our performance at UNI, but definitely not satisfied," said Hinkel. "We want to make the most out of every opportunity to wrestle, and we didn't do that. This weekend is another chance to excel and we plan to take full advantage."
Iowa Western comes to West Lafayette with just one previous dual on its schedule this season, downing Iowa Lakes Community College, 34-6. Sunday will be the first-ever meeting between Purdue and the Reivers as the Boilermakers aim to improve on their 106-33-7 all-time record in inaugural matchups. Iowa Western is ranked fifth in the latest NJCAA national rankings, with several individuals ranked at their respective weights. Freshman 165-pounder Zak Benitz sports a 10-3 record on the year, while classmate Sean Dulom is 14-9 at 157 pounds and John Jude is 12-8 at heavyweight.
The Boilermakers are 5-4 all-time against SIUE, looking for their sixth straight victory over the Cougars this weekend. The series started in 1977 with SIUE winning the first four meetings in school history, including a 35-8 victory in 1983, but Purdue righted the ship in 1986 with a 24-19 win and have been dominant in the last four meetings. The Boilermakers exceeded 50 points in shutout victories in 2002 and 2009, and turned in a 47-3 victory in Edwardsville last season. The Cougars are led by 133-pound sophomore Patrick Meyers, who sports an impressive 10-1 record this season, including five dual victories. He swept three matches in a quad with Indiana, Bucknell and Gardner Webb, in addition to winning the Central Missouri Open.
Both of the Boilermakers' duals on Sunday will be streamed live on the Big Ten Digital Network and Boilermaker All-Access, and will replay on the Big Ten Network on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 17 and 18. The Purdue and SIUE dual will replay Monday at 3:30 p.m. and the Purdue Iowa Western will be Tuesday at 4 p.m. In addition to live video, updates will be available via TrackWrestling.com and the @PurdueWrestling Twitter page. Admission to Sunday's dual is $5 for adults, $2 for children and $1 for groups of 15 or more, and tickets will be available at the Purdue Athletics Ticket Office before the match. The Boilermakers will give Purdue Wrestling t-shirts to the first 50 fans in attendance on Sunday.