March 9, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The University of Illinois wrestling team, led by head coach Jim Heffernan, ended the first day of the 2013 Big Ten Wrestling Championships with Jesse Delgado and Conrad Polz advancing to tomorrow's Big Ten Championship finals at 125 and 165 along with securing six NCAA qualifiers to date. The Illini finished the day in five place with 73.5 points.
The Illini were lead by performances from both Delgado and Gonzalez, with both wrestlers winning their championship semifinal matches. In the first championship semi match, the No. 3 Delgado wrestled No. 2 Nico Megaludis. Delgado dropped the match during the season, but got revenge on the Nittany Lion today. The sophomore defeated Megaludis 6-3 to advance to his first conference final tomorrow when he takes on No. 1 Matt McDonough (Iowa).
At 165, Polz wrestled No. 3 Taylor Massa of Michigan in the semifinals. Polz advanced to the finals after defeating the Wolverine 7-1. The senior will wrestle top-seed David Taylor of Penn State tomorrow for the conference crown. The two met earlier in the season as the Nittany Lion won by a 13-7 decision.
Also qualifying for the NCAA Championships was 174-pounder Jordan Blanton. The Illini grappler dropped a 6-0 decision to Iowa's No. 2 seed Mike Evans and will wrestle for third place tomorrow against No. 4 seed Nick Heflin of Ohio State. If Blanton places third, that will tie his career best finish at the conference championships. He finished third in 2009-10.
Senior Daryl Thomas qualified for the national meet for the first time in his career after defeating Rossi Bruno of Michigan. Thomas will also wrestle in the third place match tomorrow. He will take on No. 3 Tyler Graff of Wisconsin. It will mark the first time this season the two grapplers have faced off.
Both Tony Dallago and Mario Gonzalez will also wrestle for third place tomorrow. The 184-pounder defeated No. 7 Luke Sheridan by an 8-2 decision while Gonzalez moved past No. 7 Jackson Hein of Wisconsin.
At 149, Caleb Ervin defeated Josh Dziewa of Iowa in a thrilling 3-2 decision before falling to No. 2 Ivan Lopouchanski of Purdue by a 9-0 major decision. Ervin will wrestle the No. 1 seed Eriv Grajales of Michigan in the seventh place match tomorrow.
Penn State is in first place with 123, Minnesota second with 112.5 and Iowa is third with 109 points. Session three begins at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow with the championship finals starting at 1:30 p.m. The finals will be aired live on the Big Ten Network. For all the scores and information, please see the attached bracket.
Team Standings After Day 1
1. Penn State - 123
2. Minnesota - 112.5
3. Iowa - 109
4. Ohio State - 92
5. Illinois - 73.5
6. Michigan - 61
7. Nebraska - 52
8. Northwestern - 50
9. Purdue - 28
10. Indiana - 26.5
11. Wisconsin - 26
12. Michigan State - 17