2/3/21 Northwestern, Thomas Penola, Jon Halvorsen

197-pound sophomore Thomas Penola faces off against Northwestern’s Jon Halvorsen during their match in Purdue’s Jan. 15 dual. Penola defeated Halvorsen in a 21-6 technical fall.

The Boilermakers are preparing to face their toughest challenge of the season against two top-ranked Big Ten opponents.

The Boilers will take on No. 1 Iowa (3-0) and No. 8 Ohio State (4-1) on Sunday.

No. 6 125 pound senior Devin Schroder sees the dual as an opportunity for him and the Boilers (2-3) to shine on a national stage, saying people come to a Big Ten school expecting to compete with the nation's top wrestlers.

"When you come to Purdue and compete in the Big Ten, matches like these are what you look forward to," Schroder said. "We'll have 20 matches to compete against some of the best in the country. The team and I are really looking forward to it."

No. 8 157 pound sophomore Kendall Coleman has wrestled his way to one of the top spots in the nation, winning four of his first five matches with a score of just under 10 points per match.

Schroder described his teammate as a high-energy wrestler and an overall good person off the mat; someone who can elevate the program with high-caliber wrestling while creating a positive environment for his fellow wrestlers before every dual.

Coaches usually have time before some of the tougher matches to put their wrestlers into ideal situations for them to learn and grow as competitors. However, the abnormality of the Big Ten season has caused some of the team's freshmen to prepare without what head coach Tony Ersland calls the "building blocks" of the wrestling season.

"The young guys especially are being thrown into (a tougher schedule), and they have to learn and adjust quickly to what that level looks like," Ersland said. "But I've been really happy with their attitudes, how they've approached this situation and how they've competed."

While they may have lost the extra time, preparation for some of the Big Ten's best is a year-long process for what Ersland calls an ascending program. He described the duals as another rung in the ladder his team needs to climb to reach where they aspire to be.

"The journey is right to the National Championship," Ersland said. "That's the ultimate goal that we want to reach. We want to keep ascending and (every match) is another part of that process. We have to climb the next rung on the ladder."

The team will start the dual without 149 pound sophomore Alec White, who is out with a sore knee after being injured in a match against Minnesota. His return timeline remains unclear.

The Boilers look to overcome the Hawkeyes and the Buckeyes in Holloway Gymnasium on Sunday. The matches will be broadcasted at 11 a.m. on BTN and 4 p.m. on BTN+ respectively.

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