Illini Place Four on Final Day of NCAAs
March 17, 2012
St. Louis - The Illini wrapped up competition at the 2012 NCAA Championships with four Illini placing in the top eight of the tournament. Jordan Blanton (174) took fourth, B.J. Futrell (133) took sixth, Jesse Delgado (125) placed seventh and Conrad Polz(165) finished eighth. The Illini finished in seventh place with 62 points, the fourth most points scored at the national tournament in school history.
Blanton finished the highest of all the Illini as he wrestled above his No. 7 seed, took fourth and notched his second All-American honor. In Blanton's consolation semifinals match against No. 4 seed Logan Storley (Minnesota), the Illini grappler and the Gopher were scoreless after the first. Blanton started on bottom for the second and scored the only point of the match with his escape. The redshirt-junior rode out the Gopher for the remainder of the bout and moved on to face No. 2 Chris Perry (Oklahoma State), a rematch of the championship quarterfinals. Blanton dropped his match to Perry 4-1, but finished a career-best fourth place at the three-day contest.
Futrell finished the highest of his career, taking sixth at his third national tournament. In his first match against No. 10 Chris Dardannes, Futrell was in control throughout the first period, with a near pin just seconds into the bout and lead the Gopher 5-1 after the first and 8-4 after the second. Dardannes scored two escapes and a takedown before putting Futrell on his back and getting the pin in 6:29. The Park Forest, Ill., native then fell to No. 6 Devin Carter (Virginia Tech) by a pin in 1:44 to take sixth.
In just his first national tournament, freshman Delgado earned All-American honors and placed seventh after he defeated No. 12 Steve Bonanno (Hofstra), 3-1. Delgado and Bonanno put up zero points in the first period, however the Illini grappler notched the escape to go ahead 1-0 after the second. Bonanno escaped early in the third, but Delgado scored the winning takedown, 3-1 and ended his rookie year with a 34-8 record.
Polz faced Wisconsin's Ben Jordan in his final match of the national tournament. The Illini gave up a takedown and trailed Jordan 2-0 after the first. Polz started down for the second period and escaped to inch the score closer, 2-1. In the final period, Jordan scored an escape and the riding time point to win 4-1. Polz ended the season as the eighth best wrestler in the country with a 24-8 record, a career-best.
125: No. 4 seed Jesse Delgado, Fr., Salinas, Calif., 34-8
133: No. 4 seed B.J. Futrell, r-Jr., Park Forest, Ill., 30-9
149: Eric Terrazas, Sr., Wheaton, Ill., 25-13
165: No. 9 seed Conrad Polz, r-Jr., Orland Park, Ill., 24-8
174: No. 7 seed Jordan Blanton, r-Jr., Richmond, Ill., 30-8
184: Tony Dallago, r-So., Harrisburg, Pa., 25-13
197: No. 7 seed Mario Gonzalez, r-So., Aurora, Ill., 26-9