Atwood Advances to Midlands Championships Semifinals in Thriller
Photo by Larry Slater

Dec. 30, 2013

EVANSTON, Ill. - Fourth-seeded Braden Atwood advanced to the 197-pound semifinals of the 51st Ken Kraft Midlands Championships with a thrilling 2-1 decision in the first tiebreaker Sunday in Welsh-Ryan Arena. The fourth-seeded Purdue grappler is one of five Boilermakers still alive heading into Monday's third session, joined by Cashé Quiroga (133), Danny Sabatello (141), Alex Griffin (149) and Patrick Kissel (174). The third session will start Monday at 12 p.m. CT.

Purdue is tied for eighth with Columbia in the team standings with 36.5 points. The Lions have one semifinalist and four in the wrestlebacks. Iowa has a 55-point lead on Illinois to lead the pack, 112 to 57. Edinboro is third with 52 points, followed by Maryland with 46.5 points and Michigan with 44 points to round out the top five. Northern Iowa and Wisconsin are deadlocked at sixth with 39 points. The top 10 is rounded out by Northwestern with 34 points.

After a scoreless first period, Atwood and fifth-seeded Alex Polizzi of Northwestern exchanged escapes to start the second and third periods. Neither wrestler was able to get a successful shot during the 60 second sudden victory session, pushing into a pair of 30 second tiebreakers. Atwood asserted his ability on top and rode Polizzi for the entire 30 seconds. In his turn on bottom, the redshirt junior Boilermaker nearly had his opponent reversed and with hold on just one leg, Atwood was able to free himself for the winning escape point.

Atwood (14-4) is guaranteed a podium finish for the second time in his career and his is just the fourth Purdue grappler to become a two-time placewinner after a fourth-place finish at 184 pounds as a redshirt freshman. In the semifinals he will meet a familiar foe in top-seeded Mario Gonzalez of Illinois. The two met twice last year, in the dual and at the Big Ten Championships. Gonzalez holds a 2-0 edge over Atwood, with both wins coming via decision, 11-4 and 7-1, respectively.

Earlier in the day, the Delphi, Ind., native defeated Michigan's Chris Heald for the third time in less than a month, sticking the Wolverine in 4:22 for this fourth pin of the season. The fall moved him into sole possession of the No. 15 spot on Purdue's career fall list with 19.

He wasn't the only one racking up bonus points. The Boilermakers won eight bouts with bonus points: four falls, three major decisions and one technical fall. Chad Welch (5-6) recorded the first fall of the event for Purdue, pinning Devon Gobbo of Harvard in 4:23 in the second round at 165 pounds. In the consolation first round, 174-pounder Patrick Kissel pinned Ty Prazma (unattached) in 5:35, his second fall of the season, and Alex White used just 1:52 to stick Jeff Tybrurski of Chicago at 285 pounds.

Redshirt freshman Alex Griffin (10-7) won two of his four matches via major decision, including a 12-4 upset of Gabe Morse of Northern Illinois, the No. 9 seed at 149, in his first match. He also defeated Indiana's Eric Roach by major decision for a second time this season, 11-1. A win over Wisconsin's Rylan Lubeck in the consolation fifth round will guarantee him a spot on the podium

After dropping his first match at 133, Cashé Quiroga (3-2) rallied with a vengeance with a pair of high scoring wins. The redshirt senior scored 45 points in his next two matches, recording 15 takedowns, getting six back points and a reversal. He tied a career high for points scored in a match with a 25-10 (7:00) technical fall of Northwestern's Johnny Coukos. Quiroga followed with an eight-takedown performance en route to a 20-11 upset of 12th-seeded Randy Cruz (unattached). With his 17 total takedowns Sunday, Quiroga catapulted from eighth to sixth on Purdue's career takedown list with 310. Like Griffin, a win in the consolation fifth round will push him into the place matches. His opponent will be third-seeded Mason Beckman of Lehigh.

Danny Sabatello and Kissel are the two other Boilermakers that are alive and still battling through the rigorous wrestlebacks one win shy of placing. Sabatello won three bouts by decision after suffering a loss in his first match at 141. He will take his 13-5 mark into battle against the No. 2 seed Rick Durso of Franklin & Marshall. Kissel dropped a 7-3 decision in sudden victory in his first bout, but followed with an 8-2 upset of the 11th-seed at 174, Jake Residori of SIU-Edwardsville, an 8-2 decision and then a thrilling 8-6 decision in sudden victory over Princeton's Brett Harner. Watch Kissel's match-winning takedown here. The 7-5 redshirt junior is set to square off against Hayden Zilmer of North Dakota State, who is seeded second at 174.

Get all of Purdue's match-by-match results, updated brackets, notes and links to social media for real-time updates here.




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