Wrestling Faces Tough Test In No. 1 Minnesota


Feb. 2, 2001

The eighth-ranked University of Illinois wrestling team (9-1, 3-1 Big Ten) host the top-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers (13-1, 2-0 Big Ten) on Sunday, Feb. 4 at Huff Hall in Champaign. The Illini enter the dual with a 15-dual home win streak dating back to the 1997-98 season. The last home loss for the Illini was a 26-12 decision to No. 2 Iowa.

Projected Starting Lineups


Wt.WrestlerOverall Record Dual Record
125Ryan Escobar20-8 9-1
133Dave Stoltz1-1 0-0
orKelly Madden 15-8 3-1
141Mike Castillo 17-610-0
149Adam Tirapelle19-1 9-1
157Griff Powell17-9 6-3
165Matt Lackey 20-6 9-1
174Ben King13-4 6-2
184Nate Patrick24-210-0
197Pat Quirk 21-5 8-2
HwtJohn Lockhart 22-410-0


Wt.WrestlerOverall RecordDual Record
125Leroy Vega21-411-3
133Brett Lawrence18-4 9-3
141Chad Erikson19-310-1
149Jared Lawrence22-310-3
157Luke Becker 22-411-3
165Brad Pike 24-313-1
174Jacob Volkmann21-9 2-4
184Damion Hahn 22-212-1
197Owen Elzen16-1 9-1
HwtGarrett Lowney 8-0 5-0

Minnesota leads the all-time series with the Illini by a count of 22-20-2 dating back to the first meeting in 1926. The Golden Gophers have won the last eight meetings between the two schools and Minnesota is the only Big Ten school head coach Mark Johnson has not defeated while at Illinois (0-7). The last Illini win in the series came during the 1984-85 season when the Illini prevailed 21-6. The last time Illinois defeated Minnesota in Champaign was during the 1963-64 season, a span of 34 years, by a score of 17-12.

Mark Johnson is in his ninth season as head coach of the Fighting Illini with a record of 101-25-2 (.799). Johnson has a career record of 121-30-3 (.795) in 11 years and is already the all-time leader in career coaching victories at Illinois. Johnson accomplished the feat with a 32-3 win over Penn State last Sunday, surpassing B.R. Patterson's total of 100 career wins. Johnson notched 101 wins in just under nine seasons while Patterson's total came during the span of 18 years.

J Robinson is in his 15th season at Minnesota and has a career record of 215-81-3. He has helped crown 17 Big Ten champions, 46 All-Americans and has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year four times, 1989, 1994, 1997 and 1999.

The next action for the Fighting Illini will be on the road at Purdue on Friday, Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. and at Wisconsin on Sunday, Feb. 11 at 1 p.m.

The fifth-ranked University of Illinois wrestling team defeated Penn State 32-3 Sunday afternoon in University Park, Pa. The Illini earned a pin from John Lockhart and a major decision from Ryan Escobar for the impressive win.

The Fighting Illini are ranked eighth in the latest InterMat NCAA Division I wrestling rankings. Eight Illini individuals are also ranked, they are: Ryan Escobar, 17th (125), Mike Castillo, 20th (141), Adam Tirapelle, 2nd (149), Matt Lackey, 9th (165), Ben King, 9th (174), Nate Patrick, 2nd (184), Pat Quirk, 10th (197) and John Lockhart, 6th (Heavyweight).

Several Illini are climbing the career wins and pins charts. Adam Tirapelle is 19-1 on the season and has amassed 115 career wins. He currently needs only six more wins to tie Ernest Benion as the Illini career wins leader and seven 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 21 wins this season giving him 98 for his career which ranks eighth all-time, tied with 2000 NCAA 141-pound champion Carl Perry.

Tirapelle has also tied Keith Healy as the Illini's all-time career pins leader. He has eight falls this season and his next pin will place alone atop the list. Nate Patrick is also making a push on the chart. The senior is currently 24-2 with eight falls and has moved into sixth on the list with 20 career pins.

The Illini Sports Network will air the today's 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 be tape-delayed broadcast locally on WDWS AM 1400 beginning at 4:30 p.m.

The Illini's success on the mat this season has moved head coach Mark Johnson atop the Illini recordbook for career coaching wins. Johnson moved past B.R. Patterson with last Sunday's 32-3 win over Penn State, moving Johnson's record to 101-25-1 in under nine complete seasons. Patterson ammased a record of 100-113-12 from 1951-68, a span of 18 years.

Today's dual will feature several matches between ranked opponents. No. 17 Ryan Escobar of Illinois will face No. 3 Leroy Vega of Minnesota at 125 pounds. Vega has won the previous two meetings, 11-7 at the Las Vegas Invitational and 4-3 at the Big Ten Championships. The Illini's Mike Castillo, who checks in with his first ranking of the season at No. 20, will face No. 6 Chad Erikson at 141 pounds. Erikson has recorded pins in both meetings between the two. There will be a Big Ten Championship rematch at 149 pounds. Illinois' Adam Tirapelle, ranked No. 2, beat No. 3 Jared Lawrence 4-2 for last year's title. At 165 pounds, No. 9 Matt Lackey will face No. 3 Brad Pike of Minnesota, the two have not faced each other. No. 2 Nate Patrick of Illinois will face No. 4 Damion Hahn at 184 pounds. Patrick defeated Hahn 4-3 at the Midlands in their only meeting. At 197 pounds, No. 10 Pat Quirk looks to even up his record against No. 8 Owen Elzen. Quirk won 4-2 at last year's Las Vegas Invitational while Elzen won 6-5 and 3-2 at the Big Ten Championships. At heavyweight, No. 6 John Lockhart of Illinois will face No. 2 Garrett Lowney for the first time.