Illini Grapplers Set To Compete At 70th NCAA Championships


March 14, 2000

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: The fifth-ranked University of Illinois wrestling team will travel to St. Louis, Mo., for the 70th annual NCAA Wrestling Championships. The championships will be held March 16-18 at the Kiel Center.

The Fighting Illini enter this year's championship after compiling a 14-1 dual record and a third-place finish at the Big Ten Championships. Illinois sent two wrestlers to the finals at the Big Ten tournament with Adam Tirapelle claiming the 149-pound title while Nate Patrick injury defaulted the 184-pound title after securing an NCAA bid. All 10 Illini wrestlers earned a berth into the national tournament, nine claimed seventh-place or higher finishes at the qualifying meet while 125 pounder Ryan Escobar received one of two wildcard bids. Illinois placed 12th at last year's NCAA championship. The highest NCAA finish for the Illini under head coach Mark Johnson came in 1998 when the Orange and Blue finished seventh. The last time the Illini sent 10 qualifiers to the tournament was in 1995. That team went on to finish ninth but crowned two individual national champions when Steve Marianetti won the 150-pound title and Ernest Benion followed winning the title at 158. Illinois has recorded 23 top 10 team finishes at the NCAA championships which ranks ninth among Division I schools. The Illini's highest finish was second on two occasions, 1931 and 1938.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS: The following is a breakdown of the daily sessions at this year's Big Ten Wrestling Championships.

Thursday, March 16
11 a.m. CSTSession I begins
6:30 p.m. CSTSession II begins
Friday, March 17
11 a.m. CSTSession III begins
6:30 p.m. CSTSession IV begins
Saturday, March 18
11 a.m. CSTSession V begins
6:30 p.m. CSTSession VI begins

THE COACH: Head coach Mark Johnson is in his eighth season as head coach of the Fighting Illini, with a record of 92-24-1 (.791) at Illinois

  • Has a career record of 112-29-3 (.788) in 10 years

  • Third-winningest coach in Illinois history, behind B.R. Patterson (99 wins) and H.E. Kenney (94 wins)

  • 1977 Michigan graduate and two-time All-American at 177 pounds

  • 1980 U.S. Olympic team member

  • 1995 NCAA Division I Coach of the Year

  • Has coached three national champions, 15 All-Americans and 64 Big Ten placewinners at Illinois

The Lineup

125Ryan Escobar24-1224-11
133Dave Stoltz18-1418-13
141Carl Perry21-620-6
149Adam Tirapelle34-232-2
157Griff Powell22-1021-10
165Bill Zeman23-1123-11
174Ben King18-917-9
184Nate Patrick33-333-3
197Pat Quirk27-926-9
HwtJohn Lockhart28-528-3

THE RATING GAME: The Fighting Illini are ranked sixth in the latest InterMat NCAA Division I wrestling rankings and fifth by the National Wrestling Coaches Association. Ten Illini individuals are also ranked, they are: Ryan Escobar, 15th (125), David Stoltz, 20th (133), Carl Perry, 9th (141), Adam Tirapelle, 3rd (149), Griff Powell, 14th (157), Bill Zeman, 17th (165), Ben King, 13th (174), Nate Patrick, 5th (184), Pat Quirk, 11th (197) and John Lockhart, 4th (Heavyweight).

FALL GUY: Adam Tirapelle recorded his team-leading 14th pin of the season against Tim Myers of Indiana in the semifinals of the Big Ten Championships. That fall moved Tirapelle into a third-place tie with Bob Norman who recorded 22 career pins from 1956-58. With his next pin - his 15th of the season - he will own the third spot and will be three shy of Larry TenPas who recorded 26 career falls.

Career Pins

1.Keith Healy1984-8831
2.Larry TenPas1953-5626
3.Adam Tirapelle1997-22
Bob Norman1956-5822
5.Karl Roesler1995-9921
6.Eric Siebert1994-9819
Bill Zeman1997-17
Nate Patrick1998-12
Carl Perry1996-11
John Lockhart1998- 9

MORE ADAM: Tirapelle's Big Ten title at 149 pounds was the Illini's first since 1997 when Ernest Benion won the 158-pound title. Tirapelle became the Illini's 56th Big Ten champion and second under head coach Mark Johnson.

CLIMBING THE CHARTS: Senior 141-pounder Carl Perry moved into seventh-place on the Illini's career wins list. Perry has 93 career victories and needs four more to catch former heavyweight Jon Llewellyn for fourth place with 97 wins. Perry is being pursued by Adam Tirapelle and Bill Zeman in career wins. Tirapelle is the team leader in wins this season with 34, giving him 91 for his career. Bill Zeman is only four behind with 87 career wins.

Career Wins

No.Wrestler (Wt.)Wins
1.Ernest Benion (158)121
2.Steve Marianetti (134/150)120
3.Eric Siebert (150)112
4.Jevon Herman (177)110
5.Kevin Puebla (126)104
6.Jon Llewellyn (Hwt)97
7.Carl Perry (141)93
8.Adam Tirapelle (149)91
Seth Brady (Hwt)91
10.Jon Vaughn (134/142)88
Karl Roesler (190/Hwt)88
12.Bill Zeman (165)87
13.Kirk Azinger (142/150)86
Lindsey Durlacher (118)86

HOT TICKET: The 2000 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, to be held at Kiel Center, March 16-18, in St. Louis, Missouri, has sold the most all-session tickets in the 69-year history of the event. With 15,015 all-session tickets sold and three-day championship ticket sales over 90,090, the University of Missouri and St. Louis Sports Commission have surpassed the previous record set in 1997 at the University of Northern Iowa. The Kiel Center, which will seat 19,854 for wrestling, is the largest venue ever to host the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. Approximately 2,000 general public seats are still available. For information on all-session and Saturday-only tickets, fans may call 800/916-9642.

CLUB 30: Illinois juniors Adam Tirapelle and Nate Patrick have each earned 30 or more wins this season. Those win totals mark the 23rd and 24th time in Illini history an individual has had 30 or more wins in a single season. Tirapelle joined the club last year with the 34 victories and is one of seven others (Steve Marianetti, Eric Siebert, Kevin Puebla, Ernest Benion, Lindsey Durlacher and Jevon Herman) to have accomplished this feat twice in their careers. With 30 or more wins next season, Tirapelle will become the only Illini to have ever made the list three times. Patrick just fell short with 29 wins last season.

RANKED ROOKIES: Illinois' recruiting class of Mark Jayne (Elyria, Ohio, St. Edward High School) and Paul Collum (Romeoville High School) are the top-ranked senior wrestlers in their respective weight classes according to Wrestling USA magazine. Jayne, a two-time Ohio state champion, is first at 125 pounds while Collum, a two-time Illinois state champ, is tops at 130.

Intermat's Top 25 (3/8/00)

2.Iowa State
3.Oklahoma State
9.Michigan State
10.Northern Iowa
12.Boise State
15.West Virginia
16.Penn State
18.Arizona State
22.Oregon State
24.Central Michigan

NCAA Championships
Top-Ten Team Finishes

1.Oklahoma State 68
2.Iowa State55
4.Iowa 47
5.Penn State38
8.Michigan State24

NCAA Champions
Individuals (1990-1999)

1.Iowa 25
2.Oklahoma State13
3.Penn State7
Ohio State4
Arizona State4

National Champions, High NCAA Finishes Rule the Times It is impossible to ignore the success that Mark Johnson has had during his eight years at Illinois. In 1993, he took over a program that had posted two winning seasons in 10 years and has since formed Illinois into a national power, having posted eight straight winning seasons and been a regular in the national team rankings.

The facts support the theory that Johnson has helped wake a sleeping giant in Champaign-Urbana:

  • Johnson has led Illinois to five consecutive top 12 finishes at the NCAA Wrestling Championships. In 1998, the Illini placed seventh, which is the highest finish for a UI team in 40 years.

  • Eric Siebert became the third NCAA Champion for Johnson at Illinois when he won the 1998 150-pound title. He joins Ernest Benion, Jr. and Steve Marianetti who won titles in 1995.

  • In the last seven years, Illinois has had 15 All-Americans, nine of which came over the last three seasons. The four All-Americans in 1998 are the most in one season for Illinois since 1948.

  • Illinois has had 64 Big Ten placewinners during the Johnson era, including Adam Tirapelle who won the Big Ten title at 149 pounds in 2000.

  • Over the last six years, UI has had an impressive 53 NCAA qualifiers, including 10 in 1995 and 2000, and nine in 1998 and 1999.

Although Illinois has achieved much success during the last eight years, there are still many more goals to achieve, and Johnson will be around to guide his program into the future. In January of 2000, Johnson increased his commitment to the University of Illinois by signing a three-year contract extension.

"My family and I are excited about the extension," Johnson said. "This is where I want to be. My staff and I have worked hard at turning our program into a top ten team and I feel we can challenge for the national title on a yearly basis. The University of Illinois is where I'd like to retire."

"Mark Johnson is at the top of his profession and, with high standards on and off the mat for his student-athletes, has developed Illinois wrestling into a consistent national contender," University of Illinois Director of Athletics Ron Guenther said. "We're pleased to keep Mark as part of the Illini family as he continues to pursue a national championship."

Illinois All-Americans

1928Albert Campbell (145), 3rd
Ralph Webster (HWT), 2nd
1929Joe Sapora, (115), 1st
George Minot (135), 1st
1930Joe Sapora (115), 1st
Louis Bauerle (135), 2nd
Lloyd Burdick (HWT), 2nd
1932Joe Puerta (123), 1st
1933Joe Puerta (118), 2nd
R.L. Emmons (126), 2nd
1934Barney Cosneck (HWT), 3rd
1935George Ledbetter (118), 3rd
Pete Pakutinsky (126), 3rd
Jack McIlvoy (145), 3rd
Ralph Silverstein (175), 1st
1937Jack McIlvoy (145), 2nd
John Ginay (175), 2nd
1938Allen Sapora (126), 1st
Archie Deutschman (135), 2nd
John Ginay (165), 1st
1939Paul Petry (128), 3rd
Archie Deutschman (136), 1st
John Sikich (HWT), 2nd
1941Theodore Seabrooke (155), 3rd
1942Theodore Seabrooke (155), 2nd
1946David Shapiro (165), 1st
1947Lou Kachiroubas (128), 2nd
Kenneth Marlin (155), 4th
Dave Shapiro (165), 4th
Charles Gottfried (HWT), 4th
1948William Mann (114 1/2), 2nd
Joe Garcia (136 1/2), 4th
Gilbert Gaumer (174), 4th
Charles Gottfried (191), 2nd
Arthur Archer (HWT), 4th
1949Gilbert Gaumer (165), 3rd
1950William Vohaska (175), 3rd
1952Richard Meeks (115), 3rd
Louis Kachiroubas (123), 3rd
Norton Compton (137), 4th
1953Richard Meeks (115), 3rd
Norton Compton (137), 2nd
1954Larry TenPas (157), 3rd
1955Richard Meeks (123), 3rd
Larry TenPas (167), 2nd
1956Larry TenPas (157), 1st
1957Dave Moore (115), 4th
Werner Holzer (147) 3rd
Bob Norman (HWT), 1st
1958William Gabberd (157), 3rd
Bob Norman (HWT), 1st
1963William Roy (167), 6th
1965Clayton Beattie (157), 4th
1979Kevin Puebla (126), 5th
1986Phil Callahan (134), 6th
1988Kirk Azinger (142), 7th
1989Jon Llewellyn (HWT), 3rd
1990Jon Llewellyn (HWT), 3rd
1991Jon Llewellyn (HWT), 1st
1993Steve Marianetti (142), 4th
1994Steve Marianetti (142), 5th
1995Steve Marianetti (150), 1st
Ernest Benion (158), 1st
1996Ernest Benion (158), 2nd
Lindsey Durlacher (118), 4th
1997Ernest Benion (158), 3rd
Lindsey Durlacher (118), 2nd
Eric Siebert (150), 5th
1998Jevon Herman (177), 6th
Carl Perry (126), 7th
Karl Roesler (Hwt), 7th
Eric Siebert (150), 1st
1999Karl Roesler (Hwt), 3rd
Adam Tirapelle (149), 3rd

ILLINOIS' NCAA QUALIFIERS 1990-2000 1990 (2)
Derrick Crenshaw, 134
Jon Llewellyn, Hwt, 3rd

1991 (1)
Jon Llewellyn, Hwt, 1st

1992 (3)
Steve Marianetti, 134
Greg Rudin, 118
Geoff Woodcock, 167

1993 (3)
Charles Gary, 150
Steve Marianetti, 142, 4th
Jeff Monson, 190

1994 (5)
Lindsey Durlacher, 118
Lance Pelton, 190
Steve Marianetti, 142, 5th
Steve Rusk, 177
Jon Vaughn, 134

1995 (10)
Ernest Benion, 158, 1st
Seth Brady, Hwt
Lindsey Durlacher, 118
Charles Gary, 167
Jevon Herman, 177
Steve Marianetti, 150, 1st
Steve Rusk, 190
Eric Siebert, 142
Brian Stewart, 126
Jon Vaughn, 134

1996 (7)
Ernest Benion, 158, 2nd
Seth Brady, Hwt
Lindsey Durlacher, 118, 4th
Jevon Herman, 177
Karl Roesler, 190
Eric Siebert, 150
Jon Vaughn, 142

1997 (8)
Ernest Benion, 158, 3rd
Seth Brady, Hwt
Lindsey Durlacher, 118, 2nd
Jevon Herman, 177
Carl Perry, 126
Eric Siebert, 150, 5th
Tony Siebert, 134
Jon Vaughn, 142

1998 (9)
Steve Doerrer, 118
Jevon Herman, 177, 6th
Ben King, 167
Carl Perry, 126, 7th
Pat Quirk, 190
Karl Roesler, Hwt, 7th
Eric Siebert, 150, 1st
Adam Tirapelle, 142
Bill Zeman, 158

1999 (9)
Steve Doerrer, 125
Nate Patrick, 184
Carl Perry, 141
Griff Powell, 157
Pat Quirk, 197
Karl Roesler, Hwt, 3rd
Dave Stoltz, 133
Adam Tirapelle, 149, 3rd
Bill Zeman, 165

2000 (10)
Ryan Escobar, 125
Ben King, 174
John Lockhart, Hwt
Nate Patrick, 184
Carl Perry, 141
Griff Powell, 157
Pat Quirk, 197
Dave Stoltz, 133
Adam Tirapelle, 149
Bill Zeman, 165