Johnson Would Reach Milestone With Win Versus Indiana

Mark Johnson, UI's head wrestling coach, seeks his 100th career win as an Illini when Illinois faces No. 23 Indiana.
Mark Johnson, UI's head wrestling coach, seeks his 100th career win as an Illini when Illinois faces No. 23 Indiana.

Jan. 20, 2001

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - With a win over No. 23 Indiana Sunday at 1 p.m. at Huff Hall, Illinois head wrestling coach Mark Johnson would claim his 100th coaching win career win as an Illini, tying B.R. Patterson as the UI's all-time winningest coach. Johnson enters today's dual with a 99-24-1 (.802) record in nine seasons in Champaign, while Patterson earned 100 wins from 1951-68, a span of 18 seasons.

"There's no question I have personal goals," Johnson said. "The team definitely comes first and the team takes care of my personal goals. All along I've wanted to come in here and change this program around. There's no question I want to leave my mark as being the best coach in Illinois history. We've accomplished a lot of these wins relatively quickly so I'm not going to break these records, I'm going to smash these records for wins because I'm going to be here awhile."

Today's dual will mark the 77th meeting between Illinois and Indiana with the Hoosiers holding a 35-40-1 advantage which dates back to the first meeting in 1911. Illinois has won the last four duals between the two schools including last year's 31-9 Illini win in Bloomington. The last Hoosier win in the series was during the 1995-96 season when IU won 16-15 in Bloomington. The last Hoosier win in Champaign was during the 1990-91 campaign by a count of 29-9.

Illinois checks in with a 7-0 dual mark record and 1-0 in the Big Ten after Friday night's 40-3 win over Northwestern. The Hoosiers are 10-1 overall and 1-0 in the Big Ten after beating in-state rival Purdue Thursday night by a slim 20-17 margin.

The next action for the Fighting Illini will be for a pair of duals on the road. UI will face Michigan State on Friday, Jan. 26, and Penn State Sunday, Jan. 28.

The fifth-ranked University of Illinois wrestling team defeated Northwestern 40-3 Friday night at Huff Hall. The Illini earned pins from Adam Tirapelle, Matt Lackey and Nate Patrick and a major decision from Mike Castillo for the impressive win.

The Fighting Illini are ranked fifth in the latest InterMat NCAA Division I wrestling rankings. Eight Illini individuals are also ranked, they are: Ryan Escobar, 18th (125), Adam Tirapelle, 1st (149), Griff Powell, 19th (157), Matt Lackey, 9th (165), Ben King, 7th (174), Nate Patrick, 2nd (184), Pat Quirk, 8th (197) and John Lockhart, 7th (Heavyweight).

Several Illini are climbing the career wins and pins charts. Adam Tirapelle is 17-0 on the season and has amassed 113 career wins and, with Friday night's win, move into sole possession of third place on the Illini's career wins list. He currently needs eight more wins to tie Ernest Benion as the Illini career wins leader and 10 to take possession. At his current pace he will gain the record at the Big Ten tournament in Evanston on March 3-4. Pat Quirk has also cracked the top 10 in career wins. He has 19 wins this season giving him 96 for his career which ranks ninth all-time. Next up in his sites is 2000 national champion Carl Perry with 98.

Tirapelle is also closing in on the all-time career pins mark. He has seven falls this season and has upped his career mark to 30, only one off Keith Healy's record of 31. Tirapelle has recorded four pins in his last six matches moving past Larry TenPas' mark of 26 career pins. Nate Patrick is also making a push on the chart. The senior is currently 21-2 with a team-high eight falls and has moved into sixth on the list with 20 pins.

The Illini Sports Network will air the Feb. 4 Big Ten dual between No. 5 Illinois and No. 3 Minnesota live over the internet at www.fightingillini.com. Nationally-recognized wrestling commentator Tim Johnson will call the action and 2000 141-pound NCAA champion Carl Perry will provide expert analysis. The dual will then be tape-delayed broadcast locally on WDWS AM 1400 beginning at 4:30 p.m. that evening. The dual is set to start at 1 p.m. at Huff Hall in Champaign.

The Illini's success on the mat this season has moved head coach Mark Johnson to within one dual win of becoming the all-time winningest wrestling coach in Illinois history. Johnson, who began the season 92-24-1 and currently has 99 wins, needs only one more dual victory to tie B.R. Patterson's mark of 100 wins. Patterson's accomplishment occured from 1951-68, a span of 18 years, while Johnson, with the win expected to come this season, will have surpassed that total in half that time. He is currently in his ninth season with the Illini and has a career mark 119-29-3.

Sunday's dual will feature three rematches of early season competition between ranked wrestlers. At 125 pounds, the Illini's No. 18 Ryan Escobar will face No. 16 Greg Schaefer. Schaefer won 18-8 at the Missouri Open on Nov. 19. At 165 pounds, No. 9 Matt Lackey of Illinois and No. 11 Kevin Stanley will square off for the second time with Lackey earning a 10-2 decision at the Missouri Open. The final matchup, perhaps the feature bout of the evening, will pit No. 2 Nate Patrick against No. 5 Viktor Sveda of Indiana at 184 pounds. Patrick will be looking to avenge a 4-3 loss at the Missouri Open.