Poeta Wins Las Vegas Invitational

Mike Poeta won the 157-pound title at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and was named the Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.
Mike Poeta won the 157-pound title at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and was named the Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.

Dec. 1, 2007

LAS VEGAS - Second-seeded and third-ranked Mike Poeta earned his first Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational title Saturday with a 4-3 win over top-seeded and top-ranked Gregor Gillespie of Edinboro. He also was named Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament. Heavyweight John Wise finished fourth for Illinois to cap a sixth-place finish at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

"That was a big win for Mike," Illinois coach Mark Johnson said. "We needed him to do that.

"As a team, it was tough because we didn't have a full squad. We left one starter at home and had to pull two others out of the tournament (because of injuries). If you put those guys where they should've been, we would've done much better."

Poeta got a takedown with 1:34 remaining in the first period, but Gillespie escaped to cut Poeta's lead to 2-1. In the second period, Poeta started down and was unable to escape as Gillespie rode him out.

In the third, Gillespie started down and scored an escape to grab a 3-2 lead, plus the riding time he had accumulated in the second period. But Poeta started a scramble and scored a takedown before riding him out for the 4-3 win. It is the sixth win of his career over a higher-ranked opponent.

"I have to give (Gillespie) a ton of respect," Poeta said. "Winning a tournament like this is a bonus because the only thing everybody cares about is the national tournament. To beat tough wrestlers like Gregor and (Wisconsin's) Craig Henning, that's a great confidence boost."

Wise struggled in his match against Wisconsin's ninth-seeded and 16th-ranked Kyle Massey, dropping a 9-2 decision.

The Illini return to action next Saturday with their first home meet, hosting Findlay and McKendree College at Huff Hall at noon.

Final Team Standings:
1. Michigan 127.5
2. Missouri 125.0
3. Ohio State 121.0
4. Nebraska 112.5
5. Wisconsin 107.5
6. Illinois 100.0

Illini Placewinners:
1st - Mike Poeta (157)
4th - John Wise (HWT)
5th - Gabe Flores (125), Patrick Bond (197)
6th - John Dergo (174)

157: #3 Mike Poeta (No. 2 seed), Jr., Highwood, Ill., 10-0
Pigtail: TF Tom Fazio (Brown), 16-1
1st Round: TF John Gonzalez (S.F. State), 16-0, 2:50
2nd Round: TF Noomis Jones (Adams State), 20-5, 6:52
Quarterfinals:Dec. No. 7 seed Zac Fryling (West Virginia), 11-4
Semifinals: Dec. No. 3 seed Craig Henning (Wisconsin), 6-1
Finals: Dec. No. 1 seed Gregor Gillespie (Edinboro), 4-3

HWT: #19 John Wise (No. 11 seed), Jr., Pittsfield, Ill., 11-4
Pigtail: Pinned Ryan Hsu (UNC Greensboro), 1:02
1st Round: Dec. Travis Gardner (Oregon State), 3-0
2nd Round: Dec. T.J. Morrison (Rider), 7-3
Quarterfinals: Lost by Maj. Dec. J.D. Bergman (Ohio State), 16-6
Consolation Rd. 5: Pinned No. 5 seed Jon May (Nebraska), 3:52
Consolation Rd. 6: Dec. No. 6 seed Mark Ellis (Missouri), 3-1
Consolation Semifinals: Won by default No. 1 seed Tervel Dlagnev (Neb. Kearney)
3rd Place: Lost by dec. No. 9 seed Kyle Massey (Wisconsin), 9-2