Roesler, Tirapelle Comeback to Claim Third
After a horrible Friday night which saw Illinois lose all six matches, Fighting Illini All-Americans Adam Tirapelle (149 pounds) and Karl Roesler (heavyweight) rebounded for the team Saturday morning. Both won two matches and ended up placing third in the nation in their weight classes. They defeated the same higher-seeded opponents in the third-place matches that they had upset Friday in the quarterfinals.
"Today's performance was nice to see after the kind of night we had Friday," said UI Head Coach Mark Johnson. "Every coach in this tournament has highs and lows, and I certainly was disappointed after the night session, but Karl and Adam really turned things around for us today and placed third in two great weight classes.
"Having two third place finishers doesn't make me forget that we had four others who were in position to become All-Americans and didn't, but those two individuals deserve credit for what they accomplished."
After being down 3-0 with just 11 seconds remaining in the second period, Tirapelle used a reversal and escape to tie his third-place match and send it into sudden death overtime. Tirapelle then used a takedown with nine seconds left in the extra period to defeat second-seeded Reggie Wright of Oklahoma State.
"I have been telling the coaches that I always try to get a takedown with 20 or 25 seconds remaining in a period," said Tirapelle. "I looked up at the clock and saw that there was about that much time left in overtime, and I knew I had to take a shot. Maybe Reggie thought I'd wait for the coinflip (prior to double overtime), but I wanted to try and win on my own without taking a chance with the coinflip.
"I'm glad I placed third but I'm not satisfied or content. I feel I wrestled well and still feel that I'm good enough to be in the finals and wrestling (Iowa's top-ranked) T. J. Williams. I just had too many mistakes in my semifinal match."
Roesler dominated fourth-seeded Mat Orndorff in his heavyweight contest. The Illini senior never trailed and scored his first of three takedowns at 2:08 in the first period en route to capturing third place with a 7-2 decision.
"I had a goal of reaching the finals, and I would have liked to achieve my goals, but sometimes the cards don't fall your way and sometimes maybe they shouldn't," said Roesler. "I did my very best and in the end I feel good about things overall.
"It was a long three days and after losing the way I did to (top-ranked Stephen) Neal yesterday (1702) it could have been hard to comeback. I'm glad I wrestled well even if all my initial goals weren't met."
In order to reach the third-place match, Tirapelle had to defeat 11th-seeded Ryan Bernholz of Lehigh in the consolation semifinals Saturday morning. Tirapelle never trailed against Bernholz, and the Illini sophomore used a takedown in each of the three periods to win 7-3.
Roesler advanced to the third-place match after a 4-3 decision over sixth-seeded John Henry Ward of Oklahoma in the first match of the morning. The Illini senior used a takedown with five seconds left in the second period to break a 2-2 tie and set himself up for the victory.
In the team standings, Illinois is in 11th place heading into the finals with 45 points. No matter what happens in Saturday night's finals, the Illini can finish no better than 11th and no worse than 12th. It will be the fourth straight year that Illinois has finished in the top 12 at the NCAA Championships. Minnesota leads the tournament with 94.5 points while Iowa is in second place with 92.50. Both teams have three wrestlers in the finals.