EAST LANSING, Mich. – Four Purdue wrestlers earned an automatic berth the NCAA Championships during the first day of competition at the Big Ten Championships on Saturday. Along with securing their place in the NCAA Championships field, they, along with two other Boilermakers, guaranteed their place on the podium at the Breslin Center.
Automatic qualifiers Luke Welch (125), Nate Limmex (141), Dylan Lydy (174) and Christian Brunner (197) will wrestle in the consolation semifinals when wrestling resumes Sunday at noon ET and will finish no lower than sixth. Ben Thornton (133) and Shawn Streck (285) will wrestle for seventh and must win their matches in order to earn an automatic NCAA bid.
Griffin Parriott (157), Jacob Morrissey (165) and Max Lyon (184) are wrestling in extra matches due to the Big Ten receiving nine or more NCAA Championships qualifier allocations in those weight classes. Morrissey must win the extra bracket semifinal match in order to secure a second NCAA appearance.
Purdue racked up 45.5 points while winning 15 matches to stand at 10th in the team standings. Although nine Boilermakers will be in action on day 2, the six that will place in the top eight are still able to score team points. The 45.5 points and the six guaranteed placewinners are the most for Purdue since finishing with 51.5 points and seven Boilermakers on the podium at the 2012 Big Ten Championships.
Upsets by Limmex and Brunner pushed them into the semifinals at 141 and 197 pounds, respectively, while also securing their trip to Cleveland, Ohio. After receiving a first round bye, Limmex, the No. 5 seed, once again upended Nebraska’s fourth-seeded Chad Red 6-4 in in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, top-seeded Joey McKenna of Ohio State sent Limmex to the consolation semifinals, defeating the redshirt sophomore 6-0.
Sixth-seeded Brunner stormed out of the gate, pinning Rutgers’ Anthony Messner in 4:56. Four stalling calls on third-seeded Cash Wilcke of Iowa rewarded Brunner with three points, on top of a takedown, escapes in the first and third periods and 2:15 of riding time for an 8-2 upset. The win qualified the sophomore from East Dundee, Illinois, to his second NCAA championships and a spot in the semifinals. Second-seeded Shakur Rasheed of Penn State denied Brunner to the title match, winning 10-2.
Limmex (24-13) and Brunner (22-8) will have rematches with their Wisconsin opponent from two weeks ago in the consolation semifinals. Limmex will meet eighth-seeded Eli Stickly, who he beat 6-4, while Brunner will go up against No. 5 Hunter Ritter, who he beat 7-3.
In a grudge match, Welch avenged a dual loss to Michigan State’s RayVon Foley, by beating the seventh-seeded Spartan in sudden victory 6-4. It was the win the sixth-seeded redshirt senior needed in order to qualify for his first NCAA Championships, while also pushing his record to 28-8. He’ll go into a consolation semifinal matchup against top-seeded Nick Suriano of Rutgers, who medically forfeited in the semifinals.
Lydy also brought drama to his qualifying match. The fourth-seeded 174-pounder scored the winning takedown on No. 8 Ryan Christensen of Wisconsin with just four seconds left to win 2-1 in the consolation quarterfinals. The win, his 31st of his redshirt sophomore campaign, propelled him into the consolation semifinals where he will square off against No. 2 Bo Jordan of Ohio State.