WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Huge victories from sophomores Braden Atwood and Brandon Nelsen carried the No. 18 Purdue wrestling team to a 19-18 Big Ten dual victory over visiting 17th-ranked Michigan at Holloway Gymnasium on Sunday. The Boilermakers hit a slew of historical milestones with the victory including their first win over Michigan since 1998, as they improved to 13-5 overall and 4-3 in conference competition.
Purdue snapped a streak of nine consecutive losses to the Wolverines, and won their third straight Big Ten dual in the process, a feat that hasn't been achieved by the Boilermakers since 2003, when they topped Indiana, Ohio State and Wisconsin in succession. Head coach Scott Hinkel also clinched the Boilermakers' first four-win Big Ten dual season since 2004, and his most victories in a season (13) since taking over the program in 2007-08.
"We set some goals for the second half of the Big Ten season, and we've followed that path to success," said Hinkel. "We went out today, competed hard and had each other's backs, and that allowed us to come away with a victory. I'm proud of our guys."
The Boilermakers and Wolverines split the dual, winning five bouts apiece, but Atwood and Nelsen came up with respective bonus-point victories at 197 and 141 pounds to make the difference in the final team score. The other three Purdue victories came from senior Tommy Churchard, sophomore Patrick Kissel and junior Cashé Quiroga, with all three wins coming in dramatic fashion.
The dual started at 157 pounds where Churchard had to come from behind to earn his 17th win of the season and give Purdue a 3-0 lead. Churchard struck first to take a quick lead, but Michigan sophomore Michael Carpenter answered quickly with a takedown of his own midway through the first. Churchard bounced right back with a solid leg attack and finished the first period leading, 5-3. Another Purdue takedown and a pair of Michigan escapes sent the match to the third period with a 7-6 lead and well-over a minute of riding time for Churchard, but a four-point move from Carpenter in the third gave the Wolverines a 10-8 lead as the clock ticked down. The Purdue senior captain would not be denied the victory as he scrambled back to his feet and scored in the final five seconds to earn a 12-10 final.
The next two matches both went Michigan's way as ninth-ranked freshman Taylor Massa rolled to a 13-1 major decision over Purdue freshman Doug Welch at 165 and 10th-ranked junior Dan Yates scored a 22-7 technical fall over Boilermaker freshman Chad Welch at 174, giving the Wolverines a 9-3 advantage. The Boilermakers answered at 184 and 197 pounds as sophomore Patrick Kissel came from behind to earn a 4-3 decision over Michigan sophomore Chris Heald and Atwood needed just 1:18 seconds to stick Wolverine sophomore Max Huntley.
Kissel surrendered the first takedown to Heald, just five seconds into the match, giving Heald a 2-1 lead after Kissel escaped about a minute later. Heald took the neutral start in the second period, which went scoreless and Kissel tied the bout with a third-period escape, 2-2. Kissel got in on a shot midway through the final period, and a lengthy scramble ensued, working almost 30 seconds before the Boilermaker sophomore got his feet underneath him, came up between Heald's legs and finished for the score. Heald escaped late, but that was the last of the scoring in the 4-3 decision. Atwood picked up his fifth fall of the season and 13th of his career, hitting a fireman's carry off of a two-on-one tie, and putting Huntley right on his back to give the Boilermakers a 12-9 lead at the intermission.
Michigan took a 15-12 after the break as No. 19 heavyweight Ben Apland topped Purdue junior Alex White, 10-3, and 14th-ranked junior Sean Boyle used a first-period takedown to edge 18th-ranked Boilermaker junior Camden Eppert at 125 pounds, 4-1. White came up with a huge third-period escape to avoid a major decision and the 125-pound match came with several scrambles, but most were stalemated by the official as Eppert took just his second Big Ten dual loss of the season.
Quiroga pushed the Boilermakers back into a tie at 133 pounds, overcoming a quick start from Michigan freshman Rossi Bruno and pushing for an 11-7 decision. Bruno took a 2-0 lead in the first, scoring and riding Quiroga out, but the Purdue junior got things going in the second, hitting a pair of high-crotch shots and surging into a 5-3 advantage. Bruno cut the lead to one, 5-4, with a third-period escape, but Quiroga stayed at work, hitting three more takedowns and evening the team score at 15-15.
Nelsen scored the decisive bonus point of the match, dominating Wolverine freshman Camryn Jackson at 141 pounds, 12-0. Jackson came out quick, attempting a pair of blast double-leg shots, but Nelsen stuffed both and countered with an ankle-pick finish for two. From there Nelsen would go to work on top, turning Jackson for a pair of two-point turns in the first and two three-point turns in the third, nearly pinning his opponent on a few occasions. Nelsen finished with 5:53 of riding time in his 19th win of the season, giving Purdue a 19-15 edge going into the final match.
The feature match of the day pitted undefeated Purdue senior Ivan Lopouchanski against Michigan junior Eric Grajales at 149 pounds, and despite suffering his first loss of the season, 10-6, Lopouchanski held off any bonus points to secure the team win. The Boilermakers came out on the wrong end of a pair of first-period video reviews from the official as Grajales scored once on the edge and again as the clock expired to take a 4-1 lead. Lopouchanski responded in the second, taking Grajales down twice and knotting the score at 6-6, but the third period belonged to Grajales as he escaped, took Lopouchanski down and rode him out for the win.
The Boilermakers take aim at their fifth Big Ten victory and a coveted point in the Crimson and Gold Cup standings as they host archrival Indiana on Monday, Feb. 11, at 6:30 p.m. in Holloway Gymnasium. The match will air live on the Big Ten Network as Purdue looks to win its fourth straight in conference duals.
157 -- Tommy Churchard (PU) dec. Michael Carpenter, 12-10 PU, 3-0
165 -- #9 Taylor Massa (U-M) major dec. Doug Welch, 13-1 U-M, 4-3
174 -- #10 Dan Yates (U-M) tech. fall Chad Welch, 22-7 (5:52) U-M, 9-3
184 -- Patrick Kissell (PU) dec. Chris Heald, 4-3 U-M, 9-6
197 -- #18 Braden Atwood (PU) pinned #20 Max Huntley, 1:19 PU, 12-9
Hwt -- #19 Ben Apland (U-M) dec. Alex White, 10-3 Tied, 12-12
125 -- #17 Sean Boyle (U-M) dec. #15 Camden Eppert, 4-1 U-M, 15-12
133 -- #14 Cashe Quiroga (PU) dec. Rossi Bruno, 11-7 Tied, 15-15
141 -- Braden Nelson (PU) major dec. Camryn Jackson, 11-0 PU, 19-15
149 -- #12 Eric Grajales (U-M) dec. #13 Ivan Lopouchanski, 10-6 PU, 19-18