Four Illini Notch Wins in First Session at NCAAs

Senior Jordan Blanton is one of four Illini to win their opening matches at the 2013 NCAA Championships.
Senior Jordan Blanton is one of four Illini to win their opening matches at the 2013 NCAA Championships.

March 21, 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Second-seeded Jesse Delgado (125), No. 7 Conrad Polz (165), No. 7 Jordan Blanton (174) and Mario Gonzalez (197) all won their first-round matches in the first session of the 2013 NCAA Championships as the Wells Fargo Arena on Thursday afternoon. The Illini went 4-4 in the session as Daryl Thomas (133), Caleb Ervin (149), Tony Dallago (184) dropped their opening matches. Action continues Thursday at 6:30 p.m. CT with the second round in the championship bracket and first round of consolation matches.

Delgado kept to his winning ways after the defending Big Ten champion won his eighth match in a row after defeating Jade Rauser (Utah Valley) to move into tonight's second session. Delgado recorded bonus points for the Illini. The sophomore won his match by a 14-4 major decision and notched over two minutes of riding time. He will wrestle William Watterson of Brown tonight.

Polz began the tournament with a win over Kent State's Caleb Marsh by a 8-4 decision. Polz never trailed in his opening match, going up 4-1 after the first period and starting down in the second. The senior notched an escape and another takedown while Marsh countered an escaped to make the score 7-2 heading into the final period. Marsh got two more points but after 2:38 of riding time, Polz got the 8-4 decision to wrestle Michael Moreno of Iowa State.

Blanton wrestled very well in his opening match against Lee Helbig (Wyoming), as he didn't give up a takedown in the entire seven minutes. The senior recorded one takedown after the first to go up 2-0 while notching three additional takedowns and an escape in the second to push the score to 9-0. Blanton then took down Helbig, scored an escape and earned 2:54 of riding time to advance to tonight's second round match against Iowa State's Tanner Weatherman.

Dallago wrestled No. 2 Ben Bennett of Central Michigan in his opening match. Bennett scored the first takedown and Dallago rebuttled with an escape to make the score 2-1 after one. Dallago started down in the second and evened the score at 2-2. The Illini grappler began on top to start the final period, however Bennett escaped, scored a takedown and the riding time point to win the match 6-3. Dallago will fall into the consolation bracket and face Luke Sheridan of Indiana later tonight.

Gonzalez started his second national tournament with a win in the pigtail match against Jace Bennett of Cornell by a 12-3 major decision. The Illini grappler scored a takedown and nearfall points to go up 4-0 before recording an escape and another takedown to go up 7-0 over Bennett. Gonzalez scored five more points in the third period, including 1:53 of riding time to advance to wrestle No. 6 seed Kyven Gadson of Iowa State. In his second match, Gonzalez was down 2-0 to Gadson and then scrambled and was pinned in 1:41.

In his NCAA Championship debut, senior Thomas dropped his bout to Joseph Ward of North Carolina to move into the 133 pound consolation bracket against Bloomsburg's Nick Wilcox. Ward scored one takedown in the first period to go up 2-0 before adding another in the second. Thomas scored two takedowns and escaped in the remaining periods, but wasn't enough as Ward moved past the Illini grappler by a final score of 7-5.

Ervin also dropped his first match at the national championships to the No. 2 seed Jason Chamberlain of Boise State by a 18-4 major decision. The redshirt-freshman will fall into the 149 pound consolation bracket to take on Josh Wilson of Virginia.

125: No. 2 seed Jesse Delgado, So., Gilroy, Calif., 23-3
First round: Major dec. Jade Rauser (Utah Valley), 14-4

133: Daryl Thomas, Sr., Edwardsville, Ill., 22-11
First round: Dec. by Joseph Ward (North Carolina), 7-5

149: Caleb Ervin, r-Fr., Morganfield, Ky., 22-13
First round: Major dec. by Jason Chamberlain (Boise State), 18-4

165: No. 7 Conrad Polz, Sr., Orland Park, Ill., 23-6
First round: Dec. Caleb Marsh (Kent State), 8-4

174: No. 7 Jordan Blanton, Sr., Richmond, Ill., 23-10
First round: Major dec. Lee Helbig (Wyoming), 12-1

184: Tony Dallago, r-Jr., Harrisburg, Pa., 19-14
First round: Dec. by No. 2 Ben Bennett (Central Michigan), 6-3

197: Mario Gonzalez, r-Jr., Aurora, Ill., 15-8
Pigtail match: Major dec. Jace Bennett (Cornell), 12-3
First round: Pinned by Kyven Gadson (Iowa State), 1:41