Eight Illini Earn Pre-Seeds for Big Ten Championships

Defending Big Ten champion Jesse Delgado earned the highest seed for the Illini at No. 2.
Defending Big Ten champion Jesse Delgado earned the highest seed for the Illini at No. 2.

March 3, 2014

Big Ten Release

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Eight members of the Fighting Illini wrestling team have earned pre-seeds for the 2014 Big Ten Championships as voted by the conference coaches, the Big Ten office announced Monday. Defending Big Ten champion Jesse Delgado (125) leads the Illini with a No. 2 seed, while Zane Richards (133), Jackson Morse (165) and Tony Dallago (174) notched the No. 5 seed. Steven Rodrigues (141) and 2012 Big Ten champion Mario Gonzalez (197) earned the No. 6 seed, Zac Brunson (157) came in at No. 7 and Christopher Lopez (HWT) grabbed the No. 12 spot.

Jesse Delgado recorded a 7-1 conference record this season, with his only loss coming from top-seeded Nico Megaludis of Penn State in a controversial 5-4 decision. The junior has posted wins over No. 4 seeded Ryan Taylor (Wisconsin), No. 5 Conor Youtsey (Michigan), No. 6 Tim Lambert (Nebraska) and No. 8 Nick Robert (Ohio State). The defending Big Ten and NCAA champion notched 17 total dual meet victories this season and led the team with 80 dual points scored.

In his first year as the 133-pound starter, Zane Richards posted a 6-2 Big Ten record. His only losses in the conference came from No. 2 seeded Tyler Graff of Wisconsin and No. 4 seeded Cashe Quiroga of Purdue. His overall dual record is 14-5, and he scored the third-most dual points on the team during the season.

Steven Rodrigues posted a win over No. 8 seeded Jesse Thielke of Wisconsin before missing two months of action with an injury. He dropped his first dual back to No. 7 Danny Sabatello (Purdue) but posted a win over Pat Greco (Northwestern) two days later in the final conference dual of the season. Before his injury, he defeated No. 5 seeded Josh Dziewa of Iowa in the semifinals of the Midlands Championships.

Zac Brunson posted a 5-3 conference record in his first season as Illinois' 157-pound starter. The redshirt-freshman faced tough competition throughout the conference season, as his three losses came from top-seeded Isaac Jordan (Wisconsin), No. 2 James Green (Nebraska) and No. 5 Dylan Alton (Penn State).

Like Brunson, Jackson Morse has squared off against some of the conference's top competition. He compiled a 4-3 Big Ten record, with his losses coming from top-seeded David Taylor of Penn State, No. 3 Pierce Harger of Northwestern and No. 4 Dan Yates of Michigan. The redshirt-junior totaled 15 dual wins this season and scored the second-most dual points on the team with 64.

Tony Dallago grabbed the No. 5 seed after posting a 6-2 conference record. Dallago dropped matchups against top seeded Robert Kokesh (Nebraska) and No. 2 Matt Brown (Penn State), but notched wins over No. 6 Mark Martin (Ohio State), No. 7 Scott Liegel (Wisconsin) and No. 8 Collin Zeerip (Michigan). The redshirt-senior has recorded six pins this season to total 38 career pins, the most in school history.

Mario Gonzalez has missed time this season due to injury, but has won both of his conference matchups against No. 8 seeded Timmy McCall (Wisconsin) and No. 10 Caleb Kolb (Nebraska). Christopher Lopez finished the conference season 0-8 after facing four wrestlers that are ranked in the top-10 nationally, but is coming off of his biggest win of the season after defeating #15 Amarveer Dhesi of Oregon State University at the NWCA National Duals.

The 2014 Big Ten Championships will take place March 8-9 in Madison, Wis. Session one will begin on Saturday at 10 a.m. CT.