WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - After opening the 2011-12 Big Ten Dual schedule with a victory last Friday, the Purdue wrestling team heads to Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (SIUE) this weekend for duals with the Cougars and Truman State University. The Boilermakers evened their overall dual record at 4-4 with Friday's 22-17 win over Michigan State.
"This weekend is a great opportunity for us in a lot of ways," said Purdue head coach Scott Hinkel. "These duals give us a chance to get back into wrestling mode after a tough week of finals, they give us a chance to get out on the road as a team one last time before the holiday and, as always, they give us a chance to go get a pair of wins."
Still recovering from injuries and illness at several weights, the Boilermakers will field a very young lineup this weekend, featuring five freshman and three sophomores. Rookies Drake Stein and Braden Atwood look to continue their impressive inaugural seasons, while classmate Brandon Nelsen has added his name to the list of freshman standouts, winning 10 of his last 11 at 141 pounds and pinning four of his last five opponents. Luke Schroeder and Frankie Porras round out the list of first-year competitors set to start this weekend, looking to improve their respective records at 125 and 149 pounds.
Seventh-ranked sophomore Cashé Quiroga spearheads the Boilermakers' second-year grapplers in this weekend's probable lineup, returning to the mat last Friday with an impressive 19-7 major decision over Spartan freshman Brandon Fifield. Quiroga is 5-1 on the year with a fall and two major decisions and leads the Boilermakers with 20 back points. His sophomore counterparts are 165-pounder Kyle Mosier and 197-pounder Justin Dinius. Mosier is 8-5 this season with a fall and a major decision, while Dinius is 1-4, looking to improve his mark for the year.
Junior Tommy Churchard and senior Roger Vukobratovich will be the only upperclassmen to grace the Boilermaker lineup this weekend, with Churchard in his first year starting at 157 pounds and Vukobratovich in his second at 285 pounds. Churchard is 4-7 this season with a pair of falls, while Vukobratovich has built a solid 8-4 mark with a pair of major decisions. Vukobratovich owns one of the Boilermakers' best dual records this season at 5-2, and has surrendered just four takedowns so far on the year.
"Due to some injuries and sickness we've had to put a very inexperienced lineup out there in most of our duals this season," said Hinkel. "We're hoping that our young guys make the most of this opportunity and get some wins and valuable experience, but we're also just trying to get healthy for the rest of the Big Ten Dual schedule and the postseason."
Heading into Sunday the Boilermakers are 4-4 all-time against SIUE, riding a four-match win streak against the Cougars. After dropping the first four contests in the series, including the first-ever meeting in West Lafayette on Feb. 12, 1977, Purdue has rallied to take the last four. The Boilermakers have been especially dominant in the last two matchups, winning 51-0 in 2002 and 52-0 in 2009, both times in West Lafayette. The two teams last met in Edwardsville on Dec. 1, 1983, a 35-8 win for the Cougars.
Currently in the transition to NCAA Division I, SIUE is led by head coach David Ray and sophomores Brendan Murphy and Josh Wood. Murphy is 2-1 in limited action at 133 pounds, with wins against Indiana and Campbell at the Hoosier duals on Nov. 26, while Wood is 6-5 at 197 pounds, including victories against Northwestern and Indianapolis last Saturday. The Cougars are 0-5 this season in dual competition.
Truman State comes into the weekend at 2-0 in dual meets, and will become the 146th team the Boilermakers have met on the mat in the 98-year history of the Purdue wrestling program. An NCAA Division II program, the Bulldogs are led by sophomore 149-pounder Ryan Maus, who is ranked seventh nationally at Division II. Maus won the Central Baptist College Invitational to open the season and finished second at the Newman Invitational last weekend. The Boilermakers are 105-33-7 all-time in inaugural meetings, including a 1-1 mark this season as they faced Rutgers and American for the first time in school history at the Northeast Duals on Nov. 26.
Action is set to begin at 1 p.m. (CT) in the Sam M. Vadalabene Center as the Boilermakers open with Truman State, and follows at 4 p.m. as Purdue faces the host Cougars. Live results of both matches will be available via TrackWrestling.com and updates will also be available at the @PurdueWrestling Twitter Page.