#5 Illinois at NCAA Championships March 15-17 // ScottTrade Center // St. Louis
The 2012 NCAA Championships will feature a wealth of coverage on television and streamed online, all by ESPN. Both sessions on March 15, will be on ESPN3.com, and ESPNU will carry both sessions on March 16, and the consolation finals on Saturday, March 17. ESPN will air the championship finals live at 6:40 CT on March 17.
Receive updates on the progress of Illinois wrestlers at the NCAA Championships through the official Twitter account of Illinois Wrestling, @IlliniWrestling, or at HERE.
Bracket updates will be available at the official website of the NCAA Championships HERE.
Redshirt-sophomore Mario Gonzalez is in the midst of a breakout season, having recently winning the Big Ten Championships at 197, defeating No. 2 Matt Powless (Indiana) 10-4 in the championship bout. Gonzalez's title is the first in the weight class since 2001. The Illini grappler holds a 23-7 record this season with four wins over ranked opponents. He was also named TheMat.com Wrestler of the Week for moving up a weight class and providing the winning bout to win the Cornell Regional during the NWCA National Duals.
Junior B.J. Futrell is chasing his first career NCAA title this week, entering the 2012 NCAA Championships as the No. 4 seed. All-American Futrell finished third at the Big Ten Championships on March 4, dropping a bout to Iowa's Tony Ramos before topping Zac Stevens of Michigan 6-5 in the third-place bout. He is 27-6 this season, including five wins over ranked opponents and five over top-10 foes. He has pinned 10 of his opponents en route to setting a career-best in falls and leads the squad in the category. His 10 pins now tie for fifth most in a season in school history.
Freshman Jesse Delgado is having an incredible season at 125 pounds, after placing third at the Big Ten Championships and being the only wrestler this year to defeat No. 1 ranked Matt McDonough of Iowa. Delgado owns a 30-6 record, with five of his losses coming from highly ranked opponents, including then No. 4 Nicholas Bedelyon (Kent State), No. 1 Zach Sanders (Minnesota), No. 9 Levi Mele (Northwestern) and the current No. 1 Matt McDonough (Iowa) . Delgado owns eight technical falls on the season and leads the team in the category.
Junior Conrad Polz has made a giant impact for the Illini after returning from an injury which sidelined him for over two months. After his career best fourth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships, Polz owns a 20-5 record this season. The junior has defeated four ranked opponents this year and will face Oklahoma's Patrick Graham in the first round.
Senior Eric Terrazas is having an record setting senior year, owning a 23-11 record this season. Terrazas finished in eighth place at this year's Big Ten Championship, making it three of four years the senior has placed at the conference championships. He was named the Big Ten Co-Wrestler of the Week on Jan.11 after dominating at 149 pounds, beatting two top-10 opponents (No. 7 Ivan Lopouchaski-Purdue, No. 4 Eric Grajales - Michigan) in one weekend, the first of his career.
#5 Illini Ready for NCAA Championships
No. 5 Illinois travels to the 2012 NCAA Championships at the ScottTrade Center in St. Louis, March 15-17. The three-day event begins Thursday at 11 a.m. Session II starts at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. Sessions III and IV begin Friday at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., respectively. Session V begins Saturday at 10 a.m., and the finals begin Saturday at 6:30 p.m. All times are listed as Central.
The Orange and Blue finished 22nd at the 2011 NCAA Championships, with B.J. Futrell (133) earning All-America honors.
ESPN Family to Broadcast NCAAs
The ESPN family of networks will broadcast every session of the 2012 NCAA Championships, with the network streaming both sessions on Thursday, March 15, on ESPN3.com. Both sessions on Friday, March 16, featuring the quarterfinals (morning) and semifinals (evening) will be aired on ESPNU and ESPN3.com. ESPNU and ESPN3.com will conitnue coverage of Saturday's morning's medla round at 10 a.m., while the championships matches will be aired on ESPN and ESPN3.com at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 17. Anthony Robles and Tim Johnson will serve as play-by-play analysts while Adam Amin will give sideline reports.
Illini History at NCAA Championships
Four of Illinois' qualifiers for the NCAA Championships have competed at the championships in their career, with B.J. Futrell (133), Eric Terrazas (149), Jordan Blanton (174) and Tony Dallago (184) holding NCAA experience. Futrell and Blanton are both All-Americans after Futrell finished eighth last season and Blanton taking fifth in 2010.
Weight Classes to Watch:
Fourth-seeded Jesse Delgado will be chasing his first All-America honor when he joins the fray at 125. Delgado took third place at the Big Ten Championships and has faced two of the three wrestlers seeded ahead of him. He has beaten the No. 1 seed, Matt McDonough (Iowa) and fell to the second-seed Zach Sanders (Minnesota). Delgado will face Old Dominion's Jerome Robinson in the first round.
Fourth-seeded B.J. Futrell will look to add a NCAA title to his resume as the redshirt-junior earned his first All-American honors last season, finishing eighth. Futrell has beaten three of the ranked wrestlers in the 133-pound weight class including No. 8 Zachery Stevens (Michigan), No. 9 Cashe Quiroga (Purdue) and No. 10 Chris Dardanes (Minnesota). The Illini grappler also defeated No. 6 Devin Carter (Virginia Tech) during last year's NCAA tournament. Futrell will look to even the series record against Chattanooga's Nick Soto in the first round. Soto defeated Futrell earlier this season.
165 Pounds Conrad Polz, the ninth-seed in the 165-pound bracket will wrestle a few familiar opponents as he will take on Oklahoma's Patrick Graham in the first round. Polz defeated Graham during the NWCA National Duals, 3-2. Polz will then most likely face Nebraska's Robert Kokesh in the second round. The Illini lost to Kokesh in the last match at the Big Ten Championships to take fourth place.
Big Ten Champion Mario Gonzalez looks to continue his success from the conference championships into the NCAAs for the first time in his career. The redshirt-sophomore is currently riding a five match winning streak and hopes to outperform his seventh seed as he will face Army's Derek Stanley in the first round and will then most likely face Big Ten foe No. 10 Sonny Yohn of Minnesota.
Full NCAA Championships notes available in the attached PDF file.