#16 John Dergo recorded his fastest fall of the year against Dan Clum at 174, pinning the Badger in 1:56.
Dec. 5, 2009
LAS VEGAS - As the only remaining wrestler for Illinois at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, fourth-seeded and ninth-ranked John Dergo knew it was up to him to give the Illini a positive feeling heading into next Saturday's home duals against Findlay and McKendree. He didn't disappoint, upsetting top-seeded and third-ranked Mike Pucillo (Ohio State), 7-5, in the semifinal round to reach his first Las Vegas Invitational championship bout. But the Illini senior couldn't quite finish the climb up the mountain, dropping a 6-4 overtime bout to Boise State's second-seeded and seventh-ranked Kirk Smith. Illinois finished 19th as a team.
"Dergo did a really good job," Illinois head coach Jim Heffernan said. "He's doing what you're supposed to. He's doing what he's good at and he keeps doing it. He quit doing what was working about halfway through the second period and that kind of changed the match. Team-wise, we just didn't have enough firepower. We had too many point-scorers on the bench."
Dergo started the title match against Smith with a takedown after working a single-leg takedown to the upper body. Smith escaped after 29 seconds to cut Dergo's lead to 2-1. The first period ended without any further scoring and Dergo chose down to start the second.
He escaped in 20 seconds to increase his margin to 3-1, then Smith nearly notched a double-leg takedown but Dergo sprawled out to keep the lead. The Illini senior got Smith's left leg but he couldn't clear his head and the pair went out of bounds to end the period with Dergo leading 3-1.
Smith started down in the third and escaped after 13 seconds, cutting Dergo's lead to 3-2. Dergo tried to control Smith's ankle but the Bronco spun around him and scored a takedown for the 4-3 lead. Dergo escaped to even the score and neither wrestler could land offense in the final 35 seconds, sending the bout to sudden-victory overtime. But Smith ended Dergo's title hopes when he finally scored a takedown on the edge of the mat after chasing it for nearly 30 seconds to take the 6-4 win.
The Illini come back to Champaign-Urbana to open the home season at noon on Saturday, Dec. 12, against Findlay and McKendree.
184: #9 John Dergo (No. 4 seed), Sr., Morris, Ill., 11-2
1st Round: Maj. dec. Brian Crudden (Brown), 18-4
2nd Round: Tech. fall Eric Brennan (Northern Colorado), 22-7 (7:00)
Quarterfinals: Pinned #20, 5-seed Steve Bosak (Cornell), 4:50
Semifinals: Dec. #3, 1-seed Mike Pucillo (Ohio State), 7-5
Championship: Dec. #7, 2-seed Kirk Smith (Boise State), 6-4
Dergo - 2nd place