#10 Illini Fall to #1 Penn State
Jan. 24, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Fighting Illini wrestling team was defeated by #1 Penn State 31-3 in front of a sold-out crowd at Penn State's Rec Hall. The Illini got a win from #11 Zane Richards (133), but dropped a couple of tight matches to fall to the three-time national champion Nittany Lions.
"We competed pretty well at about half of the weights and had some chances," said head coach Jim Heffernan. "The 125-pound match slipped away in a crazy situation. Zane Richards did a great job of finding a way to win. We will keep finding ways to improve and get better, and we all look forward to wrestling again on Sunday."
The dual started at 125 pounds with a rematch of last year's NCAA finals, as #1 Jesse Delgado squared off against #3 Nico Megaludis. After a scoreless first period, Delgado started the second in the top position, but Megaludis turned him for a quick reversal to score the first points of the bout. Delgado managed to escape shortly after, but Megaludis scored another takedown with 30 seconds left in the period. Delgado kicked free and seemed to gain control, but after a review by the officials was only awarded the one-point escape to make the score 4-2 going into the final period. Delgado started on the bottom and quickly turned Megaludis for the two-point reversal to tie the score. He then rode Megaludis for nearly a minute before Megaludis was able to escape to take the lead. Megaludis held on to win the match 5-4 and give Penn State the early 3-0 lead.
#11 Zane Richards took on #19 Jimmy Guilbon next in the 133-pound matchup. After a scoreless first period, Richards escaped from the bottom position to take the 1-0 lead. Guilbon responded with an escape of his own in the third period, tying the score and sending the match into overtime. Richards scored a takedown with 30 seconds left in the sudden victory round to win the 3-1 decision and tie the overall score at 3-3.
John Fahy filled in for the injured Steven Rodrigues at 141 pounds and squared off against third-ranked Zain Retherford, a true freshman with a 20-0 record. Retherford took Fahy down early, but Fahy managed to escape less than a minute later. Retherford then scored another takedown with 20 seconds left to take a 4-1 lead going into the second period. Fahy started on top, but Retherford turned him to score the two-point reversal, followed by a three-point near-fall to make the score 9-1. Fahy recorded two escapes in the third period, but Retherford scored a takedown and three more near-fall points to claim the 15-3 major decision victory and put Penn State back on top.
At 149, #15 Caleb Ervin faced Zack Beitz, with Beitz scoring the first points of the bout with a takedown in the first 20 seconds. Ervin responded with an escape 30 seconds later to pull within one point. Ervin scored the only points of the second period, escaping from the bottom position, while Beitz turned him for the two-point reversal in the third to win the 4-2 decision.
#15 Zac Brunson took on sixth-ranked and undefeated Dylan Alton at 157 pounds. Alton scored the only points of the first period with a takedown, but Brunson escaped from the bottom position early in the second period to make the score 2-1. Alton recorded another takedown in the second, while Brunson responded with another escape to make the score 4-2 going into the final period. Brunson started the third on top, but Alton immediately escaped and held on to win the 5-2 decision and give Penn State the 13-3 lead.
#11 Jackson Morse faced his toughest competition of the season in #1 David Taylor, a former national champion and two-time runner-up. Taylor controlled the first period, recording a takedown and three near-fall points, but Morse managed an escape and a takedown of his own in the second to make the score 5-3. Morse started the third period on top, but Taylor turned him for a two-point reversal, followed by two near-falls in the last 20 seconds to take the 11-3 major decision.
In the 174-pound bout, #18 Tony Dallago squared off against #3 Matt Brown. After two and a half scoreless minutes, Brown took down Dallago for two points. Dallago immediately escaped, but Brown recorded another takedown and a three-point near-fall in the last 10 seconds to go up 7-1. After Brown scored two more points in the second, he started the third period on top, but Dallago managed an early escape. Brown notched one more takedown to win the 12-2 major decision and put Penn State up 21-3.
Nikko Reyes took on top-ranked and defending NCAA Champion Ed Ruth in the 184-pound matchup, with Ruth scoring the first points after recording an early takedown. Reyes escaped with 10 seconds left in the first, but Ruth took a shot at his legs with two seconds left to record a takedown right before the buzzer. Reyes held the two-time national champion scoreless in the second period, and escaped from the bottom position to make the score 4-2 going into the final period. Ruth then tallied an escape, two takedowns and a three-point near-fall to claim the 14-3 major decision.
Jeff Koepke filled in for the injured Mario Gonzalez for the third consecutive match at 197, and faced #7 Morgan McIntosh. McIntosh scored first with a takedown, but Koepke escaped quickly to make the score 2-1. McIntosh started the second period with an escape, then was awarded one point for stalling against Koepke. Koepke was taken down but managed a quick escape to end the second. In the final period, Koepke escaped from the bottom, but McIntosh took him down with 20 seconds left to claim the 10-3 major decision victory and give Penn State a 28-3 lead.
In the final matchup of the night, Christopher Lopez squared off against Jon Gingrich at heavyweight. Gingrich scored an escape in the first period, and rode Lopez for the entire second to make the score 2-0 going into the third. Lopez started on top, but Gingrich notched an escape and a takedown to go up 5-0. Lopez escaped, but it was not enough as Gingrich came away with the 6-1 victory, making the final score 31-3 in favor of the Nittany Lions.
The Illini are back in action on Sunday, Jan. 26 when they take on Michigan State in East Lansing at 1 p.m. CT.
#10 Illinois 3, #1 Penn State 31