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Former Illini Qualifies for U.S. Olympic Team Trials

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Former Illini, Jimmy Kennedy is one of 21 athletes who have qualified to compete at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for wrestling at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa, April 21-22. 

All 21 are have earned their spots in the field based upon results at the Men's Freestyle Olympic Trials Qualifier, held in Las Vegas, Nev., Dec. 3. Kennedy finished in third place in the 145.5 pound weight class. The top three athletes in each of the seven weight classes who had not already qualified earned their spot into the field.

Kennedy was a three-time All-American, finishing fourth in 2008 and fifth in 2009 and 2011. The Ingleside, Ill., native was also a three-time NCAA Qualifier, holding a 13-6 career at the national championships. Kennedy compiled an 120-24 record as an Illini, ranking 10th in Illinois history. 

Illini Tied for Ninth in InterMat Rankings

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The Intermat individual and team preseason rankings have been released and Illinois will head into the 2011-12 season tied for ninth. Six Illini will begin the season with a national ranking, including two who earn a top-five spot in their respective weight classes. 

Junior B.J. Futrell is ranked No. 4 at 133 after earning his first career All-America honor after placing fourth at the Big Ten Championships. He finished the year 28-10 and topped four top-10 foes last season. The top-five ranking is a career-best. 

Jordan Blanton, a junior from Richmond, Ill., is ranked No. 3 at 174 and will be major player on the national scene for the Illini this year. Blanton returns after suffering a back injury that ended his 2010-11 season. In 2010, he out-performed his No. 5 seed at the Big Ten Championships, finishing third, and out-performed his No. 10 seed at the NCAA Championships with a fifth-place finish that clinched his first career All-America honor. Blanton defeated five ranked opponents that season on his way to a 25-9 season mark. 

Senior Eric Terrazas opens the season ranked a career-best No. 10 at 149 after qualifying automatically for his first career NCAA Championships by placing fifth at last year's Big Ten Championships. Sophomore Mario Gonzalez heads into the new season ranked No. 16 at 197, a career-high after compiling a 10-3 record last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Freshman Jesse Delgado battles for the starting spot at 125, ranked at No. 18 after having a great summer competing on the Junior World Team. Sophomore Jackson Morse is ranked a career-high No. 19 at 157 after qualifying for last year's NCAA Championships as an at-large selection after finishing seventh at the Big Ten Championships.

Nine Illinois Wrestlers Ranked in Preseason Poll

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Nine Illinois wrestlers find themselves ranked in the WrestlingReport.com poll. As a team, the Illini sit in the top-10 at No. 10. 

Returning All-Americans B.J. Futrell (133) and Jordan Blanton (174) are Illinois' highest ranked wrestlers at No. 4 in their respective weight classes. Senior Eric Terrazas at 149 is ranked No. 9 while redshirt freshman Jesse Delgado (125) and Mario Gonzalez (197) earn a No. 16 ranking. Jackson Morse (157) and Tony Dallago (184) earn top-25 rankings at No. 22 and No. 23, respectively. Conrad Polz sits at No. 29 at 165 while sophomore transfer Tucker Armstrong rounds out the Illini at No. 33 at 141. 


2011-2012 PRE-SEASON NCAA National Rankings

1) Iowa Hawkeyes - 113 pts
2) Penn State Nittany Lions - 109 pts
3) Oklahoma State Cowboys - 105 pts
4) Minnesota Golden Gophers - 89 pts
5) Lehigh Mountain Hawks - 75 pts
6) Cornell Big Red - 73 pts
7) American Eagles - 56 pts
8) Michigan Wolverines - 47 pts
9) Maryland Terrapins - 46 pts
10) Illinois Fighting Illini - 42 pts

Four Wrestlers Recognized by Amateur Wrestling News

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Four Fighting Illini wrestlers have been ranked by Amateur Wrestling News in the publication's preseason rankings. Senior's B.J. Futrell (133 pounds), Eric Terrazas (149 pounds), Jordan Blanton (174 pounds), along with junior Mario Gonzalez (197 pounds) all were listed among the top 20 in their respective weight classes.

Futrell (133) and Blanton (174) are ranked No. 4 in their respective weight classes, while Terrazas is listed at No. 9 at 149. Gonzalez rounds out the Illini grapplers at No. 16 in the 197-pound rankings.

All four wrestlers recognized in Amateur Wrestling News were also ranked in WIN Magazine's preseason standings a few weeks ago.