No. 13 Purdue wrestling will host No. 14 Minnesota and No. 9 Wisconsin this weekend.
“It’s gonna be really nice to be back,” head coach Tony Ersland said. “We were on the road for three dual meets in a row last week.”
A variety of polls post the teams at similar rankings. Purdue (11-2, 4-1 Big Ten) often takes a slight edge over Minnesota (7-5, 2-2) in dual meet rankings. Wisconsin (8-3, 1-3) is considered stronger in that category, despite losing to the Golden Gophers earlier in the season.
“We’ll be excited just to be back in Holloway again,” Ersland said. “(We) have a good crowd and obviously another quality opponent, but that’s every night in the Big Ten.”
The Boilers need one more dual victory to guarantee a winning Big Ten record. They will see some of their toughest competition at this point in the season, but the goal is doable. They have improved from a 3-6 conference record last year.
Most head-to-head ranked matchups will be against Minnesota.
No. 6 junior Devin Schroder is projected to face No. 13 Pat McKee. Schroder has scored bonus points against wrestlers ranked below him in the past, earning a major decision against a No. 8 wrestler from Northwestern earlier this season, and another major against a No. 14 from Rutgers last week. Nothing’s a sure deal; he was upset by an unranked wrestler from Indiana last week, but appears to be back on track.
Sophomore Parker Filius has a tough matchup at 141 pounds, projected to face No. 5 Mitch McKee. Filius is coming off of a big overtime win to claim a Boilermaker victory over Rutgers, so his momentum could carry him towards a favorable result.
Another big match is possible at 149 pounds. Minnesota will likely send out No. 4 Brayton Lee against the Boilers. Lee is from Indiana, and this is his first college dual back home.
It is unclear who Purdue will send out. Two NCAA qualifiers, senior Nate Limmex and No. 17 junior Griffin Parriott, both compete at the same weight class. It has been back and forth between the two throughout the season. Limmex was sent out last weekend against Maryland and Rutgers.
Purdue’s No. 4 senior Dylan Lydy has a big matchup against Minnesota’s No. 7 Devin Skatzka. Skatzka is coming off of a tough ranked loss, and should prove a strong opponent for Lydy.
The Boilers will have tough decisions to make at 197 pounds and heavyweight. In their dual against Rutgers, No. 5 senior Christian Brunner was forced to injury default.
“Right now, Brunner is questionable for us, so we’ll have another man,” Ersland said. “It looks like Jared Florel we’ll have ready to go as well.”
Florel, a sophomore, is listed at 184 pounds on the roster, but both 194-pound wrestlers on the roster besides Brunner have each wrestled at heavyweight for part of the season, so Florel was likely prepared to step in at 194 pounds.
“We’ve used (Florel) in the past. He’s steady and reliable,” Ersland said. “He’s going to go out, he’s gonna fight hard, he’s gonna be a tough out. That’s what you ask of your people who maybe aren’t regulars in your lineup.”
Purdue will face a tough opponent at heavyweight in both duals; Minnesota lists No. 1 Gable Steveson and Wisconsin lists No. 5 Trent Hillger. Purdue’s redshirt freshman Thomas Penola seems to have hit his stride at heavyweight, and is coming off of a big overtime win last week at Rutgers.
Against Wisconsin, one big match could be Limmex or Parriott vs. No. 12 Cole Martin.
Other than at that weight class, there are not expected to be ranked matchups against Wisconsin. Most bouts will be ranked vs. unranked, so there will be a push for bonus points from both teams.
Ersland seems to be approaching both duals with the same mindset.
“It’s always a mistake to get away from who you are,” Ersland said. “There might be a situation or two that we address with a guy like (Florel) or anybody that subs in, where maybe there’s situations we want them to be more aware of, but in general, it’s going to be about these guys executing their individual match plans.”