Tirapelle, Lockhart Claim Individual NCAA Wrestling National Titles


March 17, 2001

Iowa City, Iowa-The University of Illinois' return trip to Iowa City for the national wrestling tournament ended the same way it did back in 1995, with two NCAA individual national champions. Adam Tirapelle won the 2001 149-pound NCAA title and was joined on the championship stand by his teammate, heavyweight John Lockhart. In 1995 it was Illinois' Steve Marianetti and Ernest Benion winning titles.

Tirapelle faced Lehigh's Dave Esposito and posted a 5-3 win. Tirapelle registered the first takedown of the match and ended the first period leading 2-0. Esposito countered with a second-period escape to close the gap to 2-1. A Tirapelle escape at 1:52 in the third moved the score to 3-1 and a takedown with 32 seconds remaining sealed the win.

"I didn't even know what to think when the clock ran out," said Tirapelle, the Illini's 18th NCAA national champion and fifth under head coach Mark Johnson. "I was just so happy for my family, all of the Illinois fans but mostly for (assistant coach) Jim (Heffernan) and (head coach) Mark (Johnson). I just wanted to find them, because of how hard they worked for me, and let them know how proud I was of them for helping me get this far."

Lockhart, the number four seed, faced No. 2 Tommy Rowlands of Ohio State. And, as had been the theme for Lockhart's 2001 title run, overtime was necessary to determine a winner. The junior from Mahomet used two overtimes in his first-round match, a single overtime in his second round match, a slim one-point victory in the quarterfinals, a two-overtime victory in the semis and two overtimes in the final. After a scoreless first period, the two exchanged escapes to end regulation tied at 1-1. After a scoreless overtime period, Lockhart won the coin flip and elected to start in the down position. He escaped with 11 seconds remaining in the 30-second sudden victory period to claim his crown.

Lockhart evened up his record against Rowlands, who was the top-ranked heavyweight in the nation for most of the season, at 2-2. Rowlands won the first two matchups, a 3-2 overtime decision in the semifinals of the Las Vegas Invitational on Dec. 2 and later in Illinois' season-ending dual in Champaign on Feb. 18 by the same 3-2 final, this time in regulation. Lockhart had won the last meeting between the two by a 4-3 count in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament on March 3.

Illini senior Pat Quirk came up just short in his bid for a third Illini champion of the day. He faced top-seeded Mark Munoz of Oklahoma State and dropped a 5-3 decision. Munoz earned a pair of takedown in each of the first two period and entered the third with a 5-2 lead. Quirk escaped and managed to get a stall warning on Munoz at the 1:43 mark but couldn't get in for the match tying takedown. Quirk ends his Illini career as a two-time All-American and 2001 NCAA runner-up. He posted 107 career wins which ranks sixth on the Illini's career wins list. Quirk just moved past 1991 NCAA heavyweight champion Jon Llewellyn's career mark of 106 victories with his 8-4 semifinal victory over Mike Fickell of Penn.

In the team race, Illinois finished fifth with 59.5 points. The finish is the best under head coach Mark Johnson and is Illinois' best since 1946 (55 years) when Glenn Law's squad finished first in the Big Ten and third at the NCAA tournament.

Minnesota won the team title, its first NCAA Division I Wrestling title. The Golden Gophers crowned an All-American in each of the 10 weight classes for the first time in the history of the tournament and won the title with 138.50 points despite not sending one wrestler into the tournament's finals. Minnesota was followed by Iowa (125.50), Oklahoma State (115.50) and Oklahoma (93.50). Iowa and Illinois were the only schools with more than one individual champion, Iowa won titles at 133 and 157 pounds.

In other action Saturday, Illini sophomore Matt Lackey posted a pair of victories to finish his first national tournament in third place. Lackey, the fifth seed at 165 pounds, beat No. 3 Steve Blackford of Arizona State 5-4 in the consolation semifinals, then topped Minnesota's Brad Pike 3-2 for third-place honors.

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP NOTES: Adam Tirapelle finishes his senior year with a 31-2 overall record with 10 pins. He finishes his Illini career with a record of 127-21 with 33 falls. He holds Illini career records in wins and pins surpassing Ernest Benion's win mark of 121 and Keith Healy's pin record of 31 falls. Tirapelle also holds the single-season pins record with 15 coming during the 1999-2000 season and is second on the single-season wins list with 39, also set last season, behind Steve Marianetti's record of 44.

Mark Johnson has coached six national champions at Illinois (Tirapelle and Lockhart, Carl Perry, 2000, Eric Siebert, 1998, Ernest Benion, 1995, Steve Marianetti, 1995) and 19 All-Americans (including Perry, Tirapelle, Quirk and Lockhart this year).

Tirapelle becomes Illinois' sixth three-time All-American joining Richard Meeks (1952, 1953, 1955), Larry TenPas (1954, 1955, 1956), Jon Llewellyn (1989, 1990, 1991), Steve Marianetti (1993, 1994, 1995), and Ernest Benion (1995, 1996, 1997). All except Meeks won at least one national title.

The Illini have now crowned 17 All-Americans over the last five seasons. Illinois has had four All-Americans three times in the last four seasons.

71st NCAA Wrestling Championships Final Results March 17, 2001 Carver-Hawkeye Arena-Iowa City, Iowa

Top 10 Team Scores: 1. Minnesota 138.50 2. Iowa 125.50 3. Oklahoma State 115.50 4. Oklahoma 93.50 5. Illinois 89.00 6. Iowa State 66.50 7. Michigan 65.50 8. Nebraska 52.50 9. Arizona State 48.00 10. Boise State 47.00

Illinois Results:

149 Pounds- Championship: No. 3 Adam Tirapelle (Illinois) defeated No. 4 Dave Esposito (Lehigh), 5-3

165 Pounds- Wrestlebacks: No. 5 Matt Lackey (Illinois) defeated No. 3 Steve Blackford (Arizona State), 5-4 Third Place: No. 5 Matt Lackey (Illinois) defeated No. 6 Brad Pike (Minnesota), 3-2

197 Pounds- Championship: No. 1 Mark Munoz (Oklahoma State) defeated No. 7 Pat Quirk (Illinois), 5-3

Heavyweight- Championship: No. 4 John Lockhart (Illinois) defeated No. 2 Tommy Rowlands (Ohio State), 2-1 (2ot)

71st Annual NCAA Wrestling Championships Individual Championship Final Results March 17, 2000 Carver-Hawkeye Arena-Iowa City, Iowa

125: No. 1 Stephen Abas (Fresno State) defeated No. 2 Jody Strittmatter (Iowa), 13-10 133: No. 1 Eric Juergens (Iowa) defeated No. 2 Johnny Thompson (Oklahoma State), 10-7 141: No. 2 Michael Lightner (Oklahoma) defeated No. 1 Doug Schwab (Iowa), 5-4 149: No. 3 Adam Tirapelle (Illinois) defeated No. 4 Dave Esposito (Lehigh), 5-3 157: No. 1 T.J. Williams (Iowa) defeated No. 2 Bryan Snyder (Nebraska), 3-2 (2ot) 165: No. 1 Don Pritzlaff (Wisconsin) defeated No. 2 Joe Heskett (Iowa State), 3-1 (ot) 174: No. 1 Josh Koscheck (Edinboro) defeated No. 3 Maurice Worthy (Army), 8-1 184: No. 1 Cael Sanderson (Iowa State) defeated No. 3 Daniel Cormier (Oklahoma State), 8-4 197: No. 1 Mark Munoz (Oklahoma State) defeated No. 7 Pat Quirk (Illinois), 5-3 Hwt: No. 4 John Lockhart (Illinois) defeated No. 2 Tommy Rowlands (Ohio State), 2-1 (2ot)

149-Pound Final No. 3 Adam Tirapelle (Illinois) defeated No. 4 Dave Esposito (Lehigh), 5-3 1st Period: Tirapelle takedown 0:26, 2-0. Stall warning Tirapelle 0:02. 2nd Period: Esposito down. Esposito escape 1:35, 2-1. 3rd Period: Tirapelle down. Tirapelle escape 1:52, 3-1. Tirapelle stall 1:17, 3-2. Tirapelle takedown 0:32, 5-2. Esposito escape 0:15, 5-3.

197-Pound Final No. 1 Mark Munoz (Oklahoma State) defeated No. 7 Pat Quirk (Illinois), 5-3 1st Period: Munoz takedown 0:16, 2-0. Quirk escape 0:09, 2-1. 2nd Period: Munoz down. Munoz escape 1:55, 3-1. Munoz takedown 1:08, 5-1. Quirk escape 0:55, 5-2. 3rd Period: Quirk down. Stall warning Munoz 1:43. Quirk escape 1:33, 5-3.

Heavyweight Final No. 2 Tommy Rowlands (Ohio State) vs. No. 4 John Lockhart (Illinois) 1st Period: No scoring. 2nd Period: Rowlands down. Rowlands escape 1:58, 1-0. 3rd Period: Lockhart down. Lockhart escape 1:58, 1-1. Overtime: Stall warning Lockhart 0:34. Overtime: Lockhart down. Stall warning Rowlands 0:18. Lockhart escape 0:11, 2-1