Five Illini Record Wins in First Round of NCAA Championships
March 20, 2014
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - The University of Illinois wrestling team sent eight wrestlers to the NCAA Championships, where five Illini were victorious in their first-round matchups. Defending NCAA champion and top-seeded Jesse Delgado (125) picked up a win and scored bonus points for the Orange & Blue, while Zane Richards (133) and Zac Brunson (157) notched wins in their first-ever national tournament. Tony Dallago (174) and Nikko Reyes (184) each scored upsets to advance to the second round.
No. 1 Jesse Delgado faced Utah Valley's Jade Rauser in the first round of the tournament for the second year in a row. The Big Ten champion pinned Rauser in 6:53 to score bonus points for the Illini. The junior advances to the second round where he'll take on No. 16 Joey Dance of Virginia Tech.
No. 14 Zane Richards notched his first-ever NCAA tournament victory against Nick Wilcox of Bloomsburg. The redshirt-freshman defeated Wilcox in a 4-2 decision, improving his overall record against the Huskie to 2-1. Richards advances to the second round where he'll square off against No. 3 Tony Ramos of Iowa, who captured the Big Ten title at 133 pounds two weeks ago.
141-pounder Steven Rodrigues made his NCAA tournament debut against No. 8 Luke Vaith of Hofstra. The redshirt-sophomore dropped an 8-2 decision to Vaith and will move to the consolation bracket, where he'll face Colin Johnston of West Virginia later tonight.
No. 16 Zac Brunson squared off against Thomas Gantt of North Carolina State in his first-ever national tournament appearance. Brunson came away with the 10-9 victory to advance to the second round, where he'll take on Nebraska's top-seeded James Green, who won the Big Ten title two weeks ago.
No. 12 Jackson Morse squared off against Indiana's Ryan Leblanc in his first tournament appearance since 2011. Morse dropped the bout to the Hoosier 3-5 and will move to the consolation bracket where he'll take on No. 5 Nick Moore of Iowa, who was also upset in the first round.
Unseeded Tony Dallago recorded the first upset of the day for the Illini. The redshirt-senior defeated No. 16 Matthew Miller (NAVY) in a 12-8 decision to advance to the second round. He'll take on top-seeded Chris Perry of Oklahoma State, the defending national champion at 174 pounds, later this afternoon.
Redshirt-freshman Nikko Reyes notched an upset in his NCAA Championships debut, defeating No. 15 Ryan Loder of Northern Iowa. The unseeded Illini sent the bout into overtime, then scored a takedown in sudden victory to capture the win. He'll advance to tonight's second session where he'll take on Big Ten champion and No. 2 seed Ed Ruth of Penn State.
Mario Gonzalez advanced to the first round after winning his pigtail match against Oklahoma State's Blake Rosholt. Gonzalez defeated the returning All-American in a 10-3 decision, moving on to face No. 2 J'Den Cox of Missouri in the first round. He then dropped a 10-4 decision to Cox to move to the consolation bracket, where he'll take on KaRonne Jones of North Carolina State.
125: No. 1 Jesse Delgado, Jr., Gilroy, Calif.
133: No. 14 Zane Richards, r-Fr., Carbondale, Ill.
141: Steven Rodrigues, r-So., Mount Kisco, N.Y.
157: No. 16 Zac Brunson, r-Fr., Eugene, Ore.
165: No. 12 Jackson Morse, r-Jr., Alto, Mich.
174: Tony Dallago, r-Sr., Harrisburg, Pa.
184: Nikko Reyes, r-Fr., Fresno, Calif.
197: Mario Gonzalez, r-Sr., Aurora, Ill.