After taking a look at Nebraska’s potential lineup in 2021-22, we’re into previewing the competition. Here’s the list so far:
In my opinion, there are multiple tiers among the Big Ten teams. It’s Iowa and Penn State at the top with a pretty wide gap to the second tier. Nebraska, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio State comprise the list of Big Ten teams with a legit shot at a team trophy in 2021-22.
Today, we’ll take a look at another one of the teams in the top of the heap of the next tier in Purdue. The Boilermakers finished 26th at the 2021 NCAA Championships as a team after finishing 6th at the Big Ten Championships and will bring back all of their starters.
Purdue returns eight NCAA qualifiers, but the Boilermakers failed to register a single All-American. I have the feeling that’s going to change this year.
On the recruiting trail and transfer market, Purdue brought in some serious talent. Purdue has a solid class coming in, led by a pair of Top-100 recruits in Ben Vanadia (No. 71) and Stoney Buell (No. 88).
Even more significant may be their addition off the transfer portal. Matt Ramos will join Purdue after spending the past two years at Minnesota. After some redshirt years, Ramos still has four years of eligibility remaining and should challenge for a starting spot at 133 pounds immediately.
Purdue’s lineup starts off strong with senior Devin Schroder. Schroder downed Nebraska’s Liam Cronin 3-1 in sudden victory to start a run to the Big Ten Championship final at 125 pounds.
Ranked as high as No. 2 in the country in 2021, Schroder went 11-6 last year while earning his third NCAA qualification. Schroder fell to Iowa’s three-time NCAA champ Spencer Lee in the Big Ten final and in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA tournament.
With a 77-31 career record, Schroder is by far one of Purdue’s best wrestlers and should have a solid year.
This is a weight class where Purdue has options.
Last year’s starter was freshman Jacob Rundell, who went 7-9 and qualified for the NCAA tournament. Also in the mix is sophomore Travis Ford-Melton who went 14-14 in 2019-20 as a freshman starter. Ford-Melton missed the 2021 season due to injury.
Also in the mix, and to me the presumptive favorite, is incoming freshman transfer Matt Ramos. Ramos, a 2018 recruit, comes to Purdue from Minnesota where he redshirted his first year before taking an Olympic redshirt in 2021. Ramos was a 2018 Cadet World Champion at 51 kg, proving he’s a top-shelf talent.
Purdue didn’t bring in a former cadet world champ to sit on the bench.
Purdue brings back another NCAA qualifier in Parker Filius. The senior went 9-9 in 2021 while finishing 5th at Big Tens and going 2-2 at the NCAA tournament.
Filius is a solid starter, but he fell to Nebraska’s Chad Red 11-3 by major decision at the NCAA tournament in March.
This may end up being Purdue’s weakest link. Purdue wrestled four guys at 149 a year ago. Trey Kruse looks like the favorite after going 2-5 in 2021. Christian Navida, Ethan Smiley and Alec White combined to go 0-6 last year at 149. Incoming transfer March Schaeffer, from North Dakota State, went 0-3 in 2021 while redshirting.
In reality, Kruse owns the only two 2021 wins at this weight by a Purdue wrestler. He’ll probably start.
Kendall Coleman leads the way for this Purdue team. After going 29-8 as a freshman in 2019-20, Coleman went 12-4 in 2021. Coleman finished as the runner-up at the Big Ten Championships in 2020 before finishing fifth in 2021.
At NCAAs, Coleman was forced to injury default out after sustaining an injury in the second round.
In 2019-20, Coleman went 1-1 against Nebraska’s Peyton Robb, downing the Husker at the Big Ten Championships on the way to a finals appearance. Coleman fell to Northwestern’s Ryan Deakin.
Another returning starter for Purdue is Gerrit Nijenhuis, who went 11-7 in 2021. Nijenhuis finished fifth at Big Tens before going 2-2 at the NCAA tournament.
Nijenhuis fell to Nebraska’s Peyton Robb twice in 2021, once at the Big Ten Championships (6-3 decision) and again at NCAAs (4-1 decision) in the first round.
Emil Soehnlen will likely start here after going 5-10 a year ago at this weight. With not a single wrestler listed at this weight on their roster, the Boilermakers will likely look to last year’s starter here, even if he’s listed at 165 on the roster.
Senior Max Lyon returns after going 9-8 in 2021. He finished seventh at Big Tens before going 2-2 at the NCAA tournament.
A three-time NCAA qualifier, Lyon hasn’t been able to earn All-American honors. In 2019-20, Lyon fell to Nebraska’s Taylor Venz twice (9-4 and 4-1).
He should challenge for All-American status in his final year.
One of Purdue’s most impressive wrestlers in 2021 was Thomas Penola. He’ll come back after going 13-6 last season. Penola finished seventh at the Big Ten Championships before going 3-2 at NCAAs, falling one win short of All-American status.
Penola finished second on the team behind Coleman in takedowns on the season with 42.
The former heavyweight, Penola will be a leader of this team on the mat this season.
Another weak spot for Purdue is heavyweight, as the Boilermakers will roll with Dorian Keys. As a freshman in 2021, Keys went 2-6 on the year. Keys went 0-2 at Big Tens while falling to Nebraska’s Christian Lance 4-0 in the opening round.
How Would Nebraska Fare in a Dual?
The Huskers stack up fairly well against the Boilermakers, as the two are scheduled to meet for Nebraska’s Big Ten opener in Lincoln on Friday, January 7.
Liam Cronin will have a tough matchup against Schroder at 125, but Nebraska’s Boo Dryden (133), Chad Red (141) and Brock Hardy (149) should all get wins.
If Ridge Lovett moves up to 157 for Nebraska, his matchup against Coleman will be must-watch. Then at 165, Robb will be a big favorite over Nijenhuis.
Mikey Labriola at 174, Taylor Venz at 184, Eric Schultz at 197 and Christian Lance at 285 will all be favored in their matchups as well.
Nebraska by a lot.