Interview by Curt Heinrichs
Prior to the Ohio State-Purdue dual tomorrow night, I had the opportunity to speak with Purdue's head coach Scott Hinkel to discuss the match between the Boilermakers and Buckeyes (which will be aired live on BTN at 7 PM).
Curt Heinrichs- One of the problems I would assume that your team has is something that was mentioned by Jim Harbaugh about Stanford’s football team has a significantly smaller recruiting pool than other Division I programs due to high academic standards. Does Purdue have those same issues since it’s a respected school, especially in engineering?
Scott Hinkle- That definitely plays a part of it, but I think when you recruit, you have to understand that going in. When you recruit, it’s important to have a good relationship with admissions and know what kind of standards they’re looking for and knowing what the minimum requirements are. There can be some positives there, too. You just need to find the right fit with recruits and academics and obviously you need to find smart kids who will be able to compete in the Big Ten. We’re trying to turn all of that into a positive.
CH- We’re about midway through the season. Has anyone really stood out to you thus far?
SH- We are still going to have a few weights up for grabs, but for sure our most consistent performer has been Braden Atwood at 197. He placed at Vegas. He placed at Midlands. He’s got some good wins and he’s continued to just get better as the season progresses. We’ve got some guys in the rankings, which is good. We went through a grind of a schedule in December and it’s never easy to wrestle in the Big Ten. Hopefully all of that hard work will get us ready for the post-season so we can send as many guys to nationals as we can.
CH- The Buckeyes are coming to West Lafayette for a televised dual on Monday. What’s the home crowd like at Purdue?
SH- We’re trying to make it an exciting dual. Coach Ryan agreed to make it a Monday night dual, which I think was a no-brainer to avoid Super Bowl Sunday. We’re trying to do Monday night matches instead of Sunday nights more often. It’s going to be live on the Big Ten Network, so we’re hoping it’s going to be a full house. We’re working with military appreciation day to try and recognize our military members. It’s just been tough with the nasty weather lately. We’re really working to fill the place up. We can hold twenty-some hundred people in the gym, so our hope is that it’s a full house and that there will be a lot of good wrestling to help bring people back.
CH- You kind of led into my next question perfectly; on paper it looks like we have 2 matches with both teams having a ranked wrestler. With 133 lbs, you’ve got Cashe Quiroga going against Johnni DiJulius. Would you break that one down and tell people what Cashe brings to the table?
SH- Cashe is a 5th year senior who had a bit of a late start to the season. He brings a lot of experience. Anytime you bring this kind of experience to any program, it’s helpful. He’s one of our co-captains, so I feel like he brings that leadership role to the team. He expects to do well and I feel like he handles that well on his shoulders.
CH- The other weight contested between ranked wrestlers is 197 lbs, where Nick Heflin takes on Braden Atwood. You mentioned Atwood’s consistency earlier. Where else does he excel on the mat?
SH- Braden is a local kid from Delphi. He is always getting better. He and Cashe are both Indiana kids and neither won a state title in their senior year. I think it speaks volumes about how hard they’re willing to work and how much they’re willing to improve to be ranked at this point in their careers without winning a state title as a senior. Braden met up with Heflin earlier, and Heflin kind of controlled us throughout the match. Hopefully Braden has improved a little bit since then and we can get one this time.
CH- In looking at the Buckeyes, does anything about the team really stand out that we haven’t already discussed?
SH- They have a lot of quality wrestlers and we’ve met up a bunch, including out in Vegas. There are going to be a lot of rematches between the Buckeyes and our guys, so that’s something to look forward to. I hope that we can switch it around. There’s going to be a good environment and there should be some tough matches. We’re trying to be consistent as a program and wrestle hard. When you do that, good things happen.
Thanks to Coach Hinkel for taking the time to speak with me. I also have to give a tip of the cap to Eleven Warrior aficionado and mouth trumpeter extraordinaire jdagrava.1for the assist on naming this interview series.
If you have anything you'd like me to discuss with the remaining opposing coaches (Michigan State and Virginia Tech remain on the schedule as well as the NWCA National Duals), leave it in the comments section and I'll add it to my interview.
Thanks for reading. As always, those brave enough should follow me on Twitter @CurtHeinrichs (which I'm hoping will cause my followers to grow similar to Richard Sherman's a few weeks ago).