#10 Illini Fall Short Against #8 Ohio State

Tony Dallago upset #16 Mark Martin in overtime at Sunday's home opener.
Tony Dallago upset #16 Mark Martin in overtime at Sunday's home opener.
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Jan. 12, 2014

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The tenth-ranked Fighting Illini wrestling team fell to #8 Ohio State in the first home dual of the season on Sunday. The Illini got off to a strong start, winning five of the first seven bouts, but the Buckeyes rallied to win the final three matches and claim the 18-16 victory. The Illini got wins from #1 Jesse Delgado (125), #12 Zane Richards (133), #14 Zac Brunson (157) and #11 Jackson Morse (165), along with a big upset from Tony Dallago (174).

"We missed several opportunities to put the dual meet away today," said head coach Jim Heffernan. "Given the way the match ups were, we knew we would need bonus points at some weights, and we just didn't force the issue. We were fairly uninspired across the board. However, we did get a great win from Tony Dallago against a very good opponent."

The dual started at 125 pounds, where Delgado faced #13 Nick Roberts. Roberts scored the first points of the bout, getting a takedown early, but Delgado escaped and notched two takedowns of his own to end the first period. Delgado started the second period in the down position and got an early escape, but Roberts followed up with a takedown. Delgado managed to escape before the end of the period, making the score 7-5 going into the final period. Roberts started down and got the early escape, but Delgado notched two more takedowns to make the final score 11-7.

#12 Zane Richards made his Huff Hall debut against the Buckeyes' Kyle Visconti, and took an early 8-3 lead after recording four takedowns in the first period. Richards started the second period on top and gained riding time before Visconti escaped, but managed three more takedowns in the period to take an eight-point lead going into the final period. Starting in the bottom position, Richards got an early escape and notched four more takedowns to make the score 23-9 at the buzzer. With one point added for riding time, Richards got the 24-9 tech. fall victory and added four points for the Illini, making the overall score 7-0.

At 141 pounds, Dominic Olivieri was pinned by defending NCAA Champion and top-ranked Logan Stieber, giving the Buckeyes their first team points. Next, #14 Caleb Ervin took on #20 Ian Paddock at 149 pounds. Paddock scored the first points of the matchup with a takedown, but Ervin scored a reversal to tie it up. Paddock responded with a reversal of his own, making the score 4-2 after one period. Ervin scored the only points of the second period, starting in the down position and recording an escape, but in the final period Paddock managed a reversal and a three-point near-fall to win the match and give Ohio State the 9-7 lead.

#14 Zac Brunson squared off against Randy Languis in his Huff Hall debut. Languis scored first with a takedown, but Brunson responded with an escape and a takedown of his own to take the 3-2 lead. Brunson started the second period down and escaped quickly, then held on for the rest of the match to win the 4-2 decision and put the Illini back in the lead.

At 165, #11 Jackson Morse struck first with an early takedown of the Buckeyes' Joe Grandominico and recorded over two minutes of riding time in the first period. Morse began the second period on top and never gave up his position, earning two more minutes of riding time. In the third period, Morse notched two escapes to win the bout 10-4 and give Illinois a four point lead.

Tony Dallago faced #16 Mark Martin in the most exciting match of the day. After a scoreless first period, Martin notched two takedowns to make the score 4-1 going into the final period. Dallago started in the bottom position and managed an early escape before being taken down by Martin. Dallago then turned Martin for a two-point reversal to pull within two points. With 10 seconds left in the match, the redshirt senior got Martin on his back for two near-fall points to tie up the score and send the bout into overtime. After a scoreless first overtime period, Dallago started on top and rode Martin through the second overtime. Dallago was set to start the third overtime in the down position, but Martin elected to forfeit a point and start in the neutral position, giving Dallago a 7-6 lead. Dallago successfully fended off Martin in the third overtime period to upset the nationally-ranked sophomore and give the Illini a 16-9 lead.

Ohio State cut the lead to one point after winning the next two matches. At 184 pounds, the Buckeyes' ninth-ranked Kenny Courts defeated #18 Nikko Reyes in an 8-1 decision, while Jeff Koepke fell to #6 Nick Helfin in a 2-1 decision at 197.

In the final matchup of the day, Illinois' Christopher Lopez took on Nick Tavanello in the heavyweight bout. After a scoreless first period, Tavenello struck first with an early escape in the second. Lopez started the third period in the down position, and recorded an escape to send the match into overtime. Tavanello managed a takedown late in the first overtime period to win the match and give Ohio State the 18-16 victory.

The Illini are back at Huff Hall this Friday, Jan. 17 when they take on #15 Michigan at 7 p.m. Fans that bring three non-perishable food items to the event will be entered into a raffle, with the winner receiving a special prize.

#10 Illinois 16, #8 Ohio State 18
125: #1 Jesse Delgado (ILL) dec. #13 Nick Roberts (OSU), 11-7 (3-0)
133: #12 Zane Richards (ILL) tech. fall Kyle Visconte (OSU), 24-9 (7:00) (7-0)
141: #1 Logan Stieber (OSU) pinned Dominic Olivieri (ILL), 2:02 (7-6)
149: #20 Ian Paddock (OSU) dec. #14 Caleb Ervin (ILL), 10-4 (7-9)
157: #14 Zac Brunson (ILL) dec. Randy Languis (OSU), 4-2 (10-9)
165: #11 Jackson Morse (ILL) dec. Joe Grandominico (OSU), 5-2 (13-9)
174: Tony Dallago (ILL) dec. #16 Mark Martin (OSU), 7-6 TB1 (16-9)
184: #9 Kenny Courts (OSU) dec. #18 Nikko Reyes (ILL), 8-1 (16-12)
197: #6 Nick Heflin (OSU) dec. Jeff Koepke (ILL), 2-1 (16-15)
HWT: Nick Tavanello (OSU) dec. Christopher Lopez (ILL), 3-1 SV1 (16-18)