Illini Win Virginia Duals Championship
The seventh-ranked University of Illinois wrestling team defeated two ranked teams today en route to capturing the school's first-ever Virginia Duals team title in Hampton, Va. Illinois downed No. 21 Cornell, 20-15, this afternoon in the semifinals and then defeated No. 11 Michigan, 22-17, tonight in the championship dual meet. Overall, Illinois (6-0) swept four matches this weekend after defeating North Carolina State and Northern Iowa Friday in the first two rounds.
"It was our goal to win the championship here after we finished third and second during our previous two trips to this tournament," said UI head coach Mark Johnson. "We had different people step up for us during each meet which made this a real team victory."
Three Illini won four matches on the weekend. They were freshman 157-pounder Griff Powell (19-6), sophomore 184-pounder Nate Patrick (19-5) and senior heavyweight Karl Roesler (16-4). Roesler had two pins during the tourney to give him six on the season. He know has 18 career pins, which ties for the fifth-most in school history.
In the championship meet versus Michigan, Illinois came back to win after losing the first three matches. Although each team ended up winning at five weight classes, UI outscored the Wolverines thanks to pins by Bill Zeman (165) and Roesler (Hwt). Other UI winners versus Michigan were sophomore Adam Tirapelle at 149, Powell at 157 and Patrick at 184.
"We were in trouble early against Michigan, but Griff Powell earned a big victory for us at 157 and then Zeman's pin was a real turning point in the meet," said Johnson.
During Illinois' semifinal win over Cornell, six Illini were victorious, including Zeman (165) and Patrick (184) who both won by major decisions.
Illinois, which will have to face the Wolverines again Jan. 31 in Ann Arbor, next competes Saturday, Jan. 16, in a dual at Tennessee-Chattanooga.