Atwood & Quiroga punch tickets to NCAA Championships

Photo courtesy: Matt Thomas
Photo courtesy: Matt Thomas

MADISON, Wis. (Purdue Sports) – Former Delphi Oracle Braden Atwood and Cashé Quiroga punched their tickets to the NCAA Wrestling Championships during the first day of the Big Ten Wrestling Championships in the Kohl Center Saturday.

The Boilermakers are currently in 11th place with 30 points and Quiroga and Atwood are two of the six grapplers that are still alive in the wrestlebacks. Penn State leads the team race with 122 points, followed by Iowa with 121 points. Minnesota is in a distant third with 86 points, Ohio State is fourth with 73.5 and Illinois rounds out the top-five teams with 69.5.

Sunday’s action will get underway at 11 a.m. CT with consolation semifinals followed by seventh- and ninth-place matches. All six Purdue wrestlers will be on the mat in Session 3, starting with Quiroga and Atwood in the consolation semifinals at 133- and 197-pounds, respectively. Camden Eppert (125) and Danny Sabatello (141) will battle for seventh place, while Alex Griffin (157) and Pat Robinson (165) are in ninth-place matches.

Quiroga, the fourth seed at 133, wasted no time getting after top-seeded Tony Ramos of Iowa in the championship semifinals, striking for a takedown just seconds into the match. The two were deadlocked at 3-3 after the first period and Ramos took a 4-3 edge with an escape in the second. Quiroga matched Ramos’ escape to start the final two minutes of wrestling. He took a 6-4 lead with a quick takedown after the escape, only to have the Hawkeye mirror with an escape and takedown of his own with only a few seconds left on the clock to register a 7-6 decision over Quiroga.

The redshirt senior who hails from Indianapolis, Ind., advanced to the semifinals by pinning fifth-seeded Zane Richards of Illinois in 6:53 to clinch an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. Quiroga will take his 14-6 record into a consolation semifinal battle with sixth-seeded Johnni DiJulius of Illinois.

Despite dropping a 5-4 decision to Iowa’s fifth-seeded Nathan Burak in his opening match, Atwood rallied to earn a trip to Oklahoma City by pinning No. 11-seed Chris Heald of Michigan in 6:06. Atwood’s fall was his third consecutive of the Wolverine in five meetings this season. It was also the eighth of his redshirt junior campaign and the 23rd of his career, which is tied for ninth all-time at Purdue.

He then recorded a 5-3 decision of Wisconsin’s eighth-seeded Timmy McCall to advance to the consolation semifinals. Atwood, now 25-8, will square off against the No. 3-seed Scott Schiller of Minnesota.

Eppert, who is the seventh-seed at 125, is set to take on fifth-seeded Conor Youtsey of Michigan for seventh place. The 16-13 redshirt senior went 2-2 on the day, with both wins coming by major decision. Seeded sixth at 141 pounds, Sabatello will meet No. 8-seeded Jesse Thielke of Wisconsin for seventh. After going 2-2 through the first and second sessions, the redshirt sophomore’s record moved to 22-11 with both wins coming via decision.

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