Jordan Blanton along with B.J. Futrell and Jesse Delgado were selected to wrestle in the NWCA All-Star Classic.
Oct. 2, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The Illini will send Jesse Delgado (125), B.J. Futrell (141) and Jordan Blanton (174) to the 2012 NWCA All-Star Classic presented by United States Marine Corps on Saturday, Nov. 3. Delgado, the No. 3 ranked 125-pounder in the country, will compete against NCAA runner-up Nico Megaludis of Penn State. No. 5 ranked Futrell will wrestle Oklahoma's All-American Kendric Maple while Blanton's matchup has yet to be finalized.
The competition will start at 7:30 p.m. at the Bender Arena on the campus of American University in Washington, D.C. The event will feature 20 of the top wrestlers from around the country, along with some local feature matches. Illinois is one of two universities to have three wrestlers chosen to compete in the event and the third Big Ten team to send multiple grapplers.
Blanton is competing in the prestigious event for the third straight year, while Futrell is making a return to the event after wrestling last year. This marks the first year Delgado has been selected for the event.
Blanton capped off last year earning his second All-American status and finishing with a 30-9 record. He placed fourth at the NCAA Championships, the highest Illini at the event. The Richmond, Ill., native also placed fifth at the conference championship.
"It's a huge honor to be selected for this event, especially for the third time," Blanton said. "We've put a lot of work in this off season and I'm excited to get back out there and compete. Having the opportunity to start out the season wrestling at this event is perfect because i'm looking to dominate this year from start to finish. This will be a great high pressure situation with a big crowd, so i'm looking forward to it."
Futrell also earned his second career All-America honor by placing sixth at the NCAA Championships. Like Blanton, Futrell ended his season 30-9 and finished a career-best third place at the Big Ten Championships. The Park Forest, Ill., native led the team in pins with 13 on the season, which tied for the fourth-most in school history.
"I'm excited about the opportunity presented to me by the NWCA," Futrell said. "I was shocked to get the call, especially since I moved up a weight class this year. To wrestle the number one guy right away to start the year in a front of a sold out crowd is going to be incredible. I feel good about my training this summer and during the preseason. I want to make a big statement to start off the season."
Delgado earned his first career All-America honor by placing seventh at the 2012 NCAA Championships. He also finished third at the Big Ten Championships and went 6-2 during the Big Ten dual season. He was also the only wrestler this season to defeat No. 1 Matt McDonough of Iowa.
"I'm really excited to be able to have an opportunity to wrestle in such a high level match right away," Delgado said. "It's pretty cool to be able to do it with two of my teammates. I'm really trying to focus on wrestling hard for seven minutes and controlling what I can instead of just trying to win the match."