Wrestling
#8 Illini Stun #4 Minnesota

 
No. 2 Mike Poeta pinned Minnesota's Luke Mellmer in 4:00, giving #8 Illinois the bonus points necessary to upset #4 Minnesota at Williams Arena.
No. 2 Mike Poeta pinned Minnesota's Luke Mellmer in 4:00, giving #8 Illinois the bonus points necessary to upset #4 Minnesota at Williams Arena.
 

Feb. 15, 2008

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - No. 8 Illinois upset No. 4 Minnesota, 19-17, behind a pin from No. 2 Mike Poeta and consecutive victories by Ben Friedl and No. 11 Patrick Bond at 184 and 197, respectively, to finish the dual. The Illini (12-2 overall, 4-1 in the Big Ten) have now won four consecutive duals and their last two matches in Minneapolis.

"It was just a good team win," Illinois coach Mark Johnson said. "Jimmy Kennedy did a good job against a really tough kid (at 133 pounds) and Ben Friedl did a great job. It was one of those nights where both teams were a little banged up, but it's a good win any time you can get it up here."

The two teams split the 10 bouts, with Minnesota getting two major decisions (125 and 141) and Illinois notching one (HWT), but Poeta's six-point pin at 157 proved to be the difference.

"Poeta went out against a kid and knew that he needed bonus points, and that was the difference in the match," Johnson said. "It was nice to have our best kid take it to a guy and those points won the match."

Friedl, a redshirt-freshman, won his first career Big Ten match at 184, getting a 4-1 decision over Jeremy Larson to turn the tide of the dual in Illinois' favor. No. 9 Kennedy ran his winning streak to eight matches with a 6-0 win over No. 5 Mack Reiter and 15th-ranked heavyweight John Wise has now won seven of his last eight bouts after earning a major decision over Ben Berhow. Bond continued his hot streak with an 8-2 win, meaning he has now won 14 of his last 15 bouts.

The dual started at heavyweight and with just over one minute left in the first period, No. 15 John Wise shot in and got a double-leg takedown on Ben Berhow for a 2-0 lead. Berhow started down in the second and earned the escape after Wise got nearly another full minute of riding time. With less than 30 seconds left in the second period, Berhow shot in and Wise defended it then spun behind him to earn the takedown. Wise held on the rest of the period for a 4-0 lead and a 2:13 riding time advantage. Wise started down in the third and got a quick escape, taking a 5-1 lead. After some handfighting, Wise shot in for another double-leg takedown and let Berhow up for the escape and a 7-2 lead. Working late into the match, Berhow shot and nearly got the takedown but Wise fended him off and once again spun around him for a takedown. Berhow tried to avoid the major decision, but Wise rode him out for the 10-2 win after the riding time point.

At 125, No. 1 Jayson Ness shot in and got a leg nearly one minute into the contest, but Illinois' ninth-ranked Gabe Flores fended him off and slid off the edge of the mat. On the restart, Flores shot for a takedown and Ness rolled him over and nearly got him on his back. Flores kept working and nearly got the takedown but Ness worked his way out of it. After the next restart, Ness bolted in for a quick takedown and a 2-0 lead, then rode out Flores the rest of the period. Ness started down in the second period and escaped for a 3-0 advantage. The Gopher quickly shot in for another takedown and rode Flores for most of the period. Flores was called for stalling a second time, pushing Ness' lead to 6-0 with a two-minute riding time advantage after the second period. The wrestlers started neutral in the third and Flores shot high, allowing Ness to take him down for an 8-0 lead. The riding time point gave Ness the 9-0 lead as he improved to 31-0 on the season.

No. 9 Jimmy Kennedy scored an early takedown on No. 5 Mack Reiter at 133 and rode him the rest of the first period for a 2-0 lead. Kennedy started down in the second and, after Reiter nearly cleared all the riding time, Kennedy escaped. The pair started neutral in the third and Kennedy was warned for stalling with just 35 seconds left in the match. But he notched a takedown with 12 seconds remaining and rode out Reiter for the bonus point and a 6-0 decision, giving Illinois a 7-4 lead.

At 141, the Gophers' third-ranked Manuel Rivera scored a takedown with 1:33 left in the first period and rode out No. 11 Ryan Prater for a 2-0 margin. Rivera started down in the second, scored a reversal at 3:13 and got two near-falls within a 20-second span. Prater notched a reversal, but Rivera reversed him once again and scored another near-fall for a 13-2 lead after two periods. Prater started down in the third and escaped quickly, but Rivera got a takedown before Prater escaped once more. Rivera's riding time advantage gave him a 16-5 major decision victory and Minnesota an 8-7 lead.

Minnesota's third-ranked Dustin Schlatter scored a takedown on Grant Paswall just over a minute into the match at 149 and rode him out the rest of the period for a 2-0 lead with 1:48 of riding time. Paswall started down in the second and got an escape, but Schlatter got another takedown then let Paswall up once more. Schlatter then took down the Illini true-freshman once more for the 6-2 margin with 2:57 of riding time after two periods. The wrestlers started neutral in the third, with Schlatter shooting early and Paswall fighting him off. Paswall was then called for stalling a second time, giving Schlatter a 7-2 lead. After a restart, Schlatter shot again but Paswall fought him off to a stalemate. Schlatter nearly got another takedown but was ruled out of bounds as time expired for the 8-2 win and an 11-7 Gopher advantage.

At 157, No. 2 Mike Poeta ripped off an early double-leg takedown on Luke Mellmer then turned him for a three-point near-fall and a 5-0 lead. After a restart, Poeta hooked Mellmer's foot and rolled him over for another three-point near-fall. Mellmer was warned for stalling as Poeta turned him over again for a third three-point near-fall and an 11-0 lead with 2:56 of riding time. The wrestlers started neutral in the second, with Mellmer shooting early but Poeta fending him off and getting a takedown of his own for a 13-0 margin. Poeta worked to turn the Gopher once more, cradling him for the fall at 4:00 and pushing Illinois ahead, 13-11.

Shortly into the match at 165, Clint Arlis notched a takedown on No. 20 Tyler Safratowich, but Safratowich escaped to cut Arlis' lead to 2-1. After multiple stalemates, Safratowich shot in and scored a takedown on Arlis late in the first period for the 3-2 lead. Safratowich started down in the second and escaped quickly for a 4-2 margin. He then shot in for a leg, but Arlis fended him off and the two went off the edge of the mat. With just under a minute left in the period, the Gopher worked a single-leg into a takedown and a 6-2 lead, riding Arlis out the rest of the period. Arlis started down in the third and escaped with just over a minute left, cutting the deficit to 6-3. But Safratowich notched another takedown then allowed Arlis to escape for an 8-4 margin. The Gopher nearly scored again, but Arlis drug him of the mat for a stalemate. Safratowich wasn't finished, though, recording a final takedown for the 11-4 win after the riding time bonus point and putting Minnesota back on top, 14-13.

After some hand-fighting early in the match at 174, No. 15 John Dergo grabbed a leg, but Minnesota's 11th-ranked Gabe Dretsch fought him off to a stalemate. Dretsch shot in for a leg, but Dergo spun him around to another stalemate. But Dretsch shot in with just under a minute left, got a leg and took Dergo down before turning Dergo for a two-point near-fall and a 4-0 lead. Dergo escaped before time ran out, cutting the margin to 4-1 after a period. Dretsch started down in the second and Dergo wiped off the Gopher's 34-second riding time advantage and gained time of his own with a strong ride to start the period. But after a restart with less than 30 seconds left, Dretsch escaped for a 5-1 lead. Dergo started down in the third and managed a quick escape, preserving most of his riding time. Dergo shot in, but Dretsch fought him off. Dergo shot again and nearly got the takedown, but Dretsch spun away to avoid the scoring opportunity. After a stalling warning on Dretsch, the Gopher worked into a takedown and rode out Dergo for the 7-2 win and a 17-13 advantage for the Gophers.

At 184, Ben Friedl faced off against Minnesota's Jeremy Larson, who was subbing for the injured and 10th-ranked Roger Kish. Friedl and Larson wrestled on their feet for the better part of the first period, but Larson shot in with just over a minute left in the period and Friedl countered to take him down and ride him out the rest of the period for a 2-0 lead. Larson started down in the second and managed an escape after 23 seconds. The Gopher shot with less than 30 seconds left, but Friedl fought him off to a stalemate before the period ended. Friedl started down in the third with 1:26 of riding time in his favor. The Illini redshirt-freshman escaped after Larson took him to the edge of the mat for a 3-1 margin. Friedl was called for stalling with just over a minute left and Larson nearly scored a takedown, but Friedl squirmed out of it at the edge of the mat. With a raucous crowd attempting to lift Larson to victory, Friedl stayed on his feet and won 4-1 with the riding time point, cutting Minnesota's lead to 17-16.

In the night's final match, the 197-pound bout, No. 11 Patrick Bond was called for a headgear violation in the first period and a point was awarded to Minnesota's Yura Malamura, who was wrestling his first Big Ten match of the year. Bond then hooked a leg and scored a takedown, going ahead 2-1 and riding him out the rest of the period. Bond started down in the second and three consecutive cautions were called on Malamura, giving Bond a point and a 3-1 margin. Malamura wiped off the riding time, but Bond escaped to go ahead 4-1. With 30 seconds left in the period, Bond scored a takedown and rode him out the rest of the period, leading 6-1. Malamura started down in the third and quickly escaped, cutting the margin to 6-2. The two traded shots through much of the period with neither connecting. After a restart, Malamura shot and missed, with Bond getting behind him for a final takedown and an 8-2 win, giving Illinois the 19-17 upset.

Up Next: The Illini finish up the three-match road trip Sunday at No. 12 Northwestern. The Wildcats boast six ranked wrestlers, four of whom are in the top 5 of the NWCA/Intermat poll.

"No question tonight's win helps build our guys' confidence," Johnson said. "Sunday will be a tough matchup and we'll have to wrestle well."

#8 Illinois 19, #4 Minnesota 17
Match started at HWT
HWT: #15 John Wise (ILL) maj. dec. Ben Berhow (MINN), 10-2 (4-0)
125: #1 Jayson Ness (MINN) maj. dec. #9 Gabe Flores (ILL), 9-0 (4-4)
133: #9 Jimmy Kennedy (ILL) dec. #5 Mack Reiter (MINN), 6-0 (7-4)
141: #3 Manuel Rivera (MINN) maj. dec. #11 Ryan Prater (ILL), 16-5 (7-8)
149: #3 Dustin Schlatter (MINN) dec. Grant Paswall (ILL), 8-2 (7-11)
157: #2 Mike Poeta (ILL) pinned Luke Mellmer (MINN), 4:00 (13-11)
165: #20 Tyler Safratowich (MINN) dec. Clint Arlis (ILL), 11-4 (13-14)
174: #11 Gabe Dretsch (MINN) dec. #15 John Dergo (ILL), 7-2 (13-17)
184: Ben Friedl (ILL) dec. Jeremy Larson (ILL), 4-1 (16-17)
197: #11 Patrick Bond (ILL) dec. Yura Malamura (MINN), 8-2 (19-17)

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