Purdue’s wrestling team travels to Illinois Sunday for its final dual meet of the season. It’s on a mission for a winning Big Ten dual record.
The Boilers (11-5, 4-4 Big Ten), who have gotten all of their Big Ten wins on the road this year, are currently on a three-dual losing streak to elite conference opponents. The Fighting Illini (9-3, 6-2) are undefeated at home. They are also on a five-match winning streak, having earned ranked wins over No. 8 Northwestern, No. 23 Michigan and No. 25 Rutgers.
“We’ve gotta come and really take the fight to them in their gym,” head coach Tony Ersland said. “That’s something that, going into Big Tens, is key.”
Ranked matchups could include Purdue’s No. 4 senior Dylan Lydy vs. No. 14 Joey Gunther. Lydy has been consistent this season, with his only loss coming from Iowa’s current No. 1 Michael Kemerer.
“It’s the last dual meet of my career, so I just want to go out competing as well as I can,” Lydy said.
Purdue redshirt freshman Thomas Penola vs. Luke Luffman could be a close one. Both wrestlers have been ranked at No. 25 recently, and Penola has had some exciting Big Ten matches. Last week, he was several points shy of a third-period comeback to beat Nebraska’s David Jensen.
“He lost the match, but boy, he came hard at the end and was closing the gap and going after the guy,” Ersland said. “I wanna see everybody there, whether they’re ahead or behind, that kind of competing at that level is what we are going to need to do more of.”
Purdue had a couple of injuries in recent weeks. Senior Christian Brunner has been out for several weeks after an injury against a Rutgers opponent, and redshirt freshman Kendall Coleman suffered a concussion during the Nebraska meet. Concussion protocol typically takes at least a week, so it would be optimistic to think Coleman will be ready to compete on Sunday.
Purdue No. 6 junior Devin Schroder vs. No. 21 Justin Cardani is another possible ranked match. Schroder has won his last five matches and is a staple in the Purdue lineup as both a consistent winner and bonus-point scorer.
“This time of year, you know who you are and what you can do,” Ersland said. “It’s about executing your game plan.”
The meet is at 2 p.m. Sunday in Champaign, Illinois.