Illini Qualify Seven for NCAA Championships
March 13, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Seven Fighting Illini wrestlers will compete at the 2013 NCAA Championships March 21-13 at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Jesse Delgado (125), Daryl Thomas (133), Conrad Polz (165), Jordan Blanton (174), Tony Dallago (184), and Mario Gonzalez (197) all qualified automatically at last weekend's Big Ten Championships while Caleb Ervin (149) notched an at-large bid to the national meet.
Delgado grabbed the highest seed of any Illini. As the No. 2 seed at 125 pounds, he will face Utah Valley's Jade Rauser in the first round. The winner of that match will face the winner of the bout between Indiana's Joseph Duca and Brown's William Watterson. The defending 125-pound Big Ten champion looks to earn his second All-America honor after finishing seventh last year.
Thomas will face North Carolina's Joseph Ward with the winner of the match facing the winner of the No. 2 seed Tony Ramos (Iowa) and Bloomsburg's Nick Wilcox's match. It is Thomas' first trip to the NCAA Championships.
At 149, Ervin grabbed an at-large bid to qualify for his first national meet of his career. The redshirt-freshman will wrestle No. 2 Jason Chamberlain of Boise State. If Ervin advances, he would take on either Oklahoma's Nick Lester or Utah Valley's Josh Wilson.
Polz notched the No. 7 seed in the 165 pound bracket and will face Rider's Ramon Santiago. The winner of that match will take on the winner between No. 10 Nick Moore of Iowa and Paul Hancock of Army. Polz finished eighth last year and earned his first All-America honor.
Blanton is ranked the No. 7 seed at 174 pounds for the second consecutive year. He will take on the winner of Virginia Tech's Austin Gabel and Wyoming's Lee Helbig. If Blanton advances, he will wrestle the winner of No. 10 Daniel Yates of Michigan and Iowa State's Tanner Weatherman. Blanton will be competing in his fourth NCAA Championships and is looking for his third All-America honor.
Dallago will face No. 2 Ben Bennett of Central Michigan, with that victor taking on the winner between Luke Sheridan (Indiana) and Alex Utley (North Carolina). Dallago looks for his first All-America honor as he's qualified for the national meet for three years.
Gonzalez will wrestle Cornell's Jace Bennett in the 197 pound bracket. The winner will face No. 6 Kyven Gadson of Iowa State. Gonzalez qualified for the NCAA Championships last year.
The NCAA Championships begin March 21 at 11 a.m. CT at the Wells Fargo Arena. Both sessions on March 21 will be streamed live on ESPN3.com