Jordan Blanton and most of the Illini squad will compete at the Harold Nichols Cyclone Open on Saturday.
Nov. 8, 2012
#6 Illinois at Harold Nichols Cyclone Open
Saturday, Nov. 10 // Hilton Coliseum // Ames, Iowa
Sophomore Jesse Delgado will return as the starter at 125 after having a standout 2011-12 season. The Gilroy, Calif., native earned his first career All-America honor by placing seventh at the 2012 NCAA Championships and finished third at the Big Ten Championships. Delgado also went 6-2 during the Big Ten dual season and was the only wrestler to defeat No. 1 Matt McDonough of Iowa. Delgado also recorded eight tech falls last season and led the team in the category.
Redshirt-senior Jordan Blanton will start at 174 for the fourth-straight year and opens the season ranked No. 2 by W.I.N Magazine. Blanton fell just short of his first career NCAA title at the 2012 NCAA Championships, finishing fourth for his second career All-America honor. Blanton finished fifth at the Big Ten Championships and finished the season 30-9, including nine wins over ranked opponents.
Redshirt-senior B.J. Futrell will look to continue his success as he moves up another weight class to 141,where he's ranked No. 4 by W.I.N. Magazine. Futrell finished sixth at the NCAA Championships and earned his second career All-America honor. Futrell placed third at the Big Ten Championships and finished the season with a 30-9 record. The Park Forest, Ill., native finished the season with a career high 13 pins, moving the redshirt-junior to fourth place on the most single-season pins list at Illinois. After Futrell notched three pins at the NCAA Championships, the Illini grappler tied Larry TenPas' 13 falls which was set in 1954-55 and led the team in the category.
Redshirt-senior Conrad Polz had a record setting year in every category last season, including qualifying for his first NCAA Championships after finishing fourth at the Big Ten Championships. Polz earned his first All-America honor at the NCAA Championships, placing eighth. He was sidelined for almost two months after tearing his MCL on Nov. 20, but returned to action for Big Ten duals, going 6-1 and 15-7 overall after the injury. Polz defeated sixth ranked opponents and finished the season 24-8, a new career-high in wins.
Redshirt-junior Mario Gonzalez had a breakout season last year, as he won his first Big Ten title at 197, defeating No. 2 Matt Powless (Indiana) 10-4 in the championship bout. Gonzalez's title was the first in the weight class since the 2001 season. The Illini grappler qualified automatically for his first NCAA Championships and went 3-2 during the event. He was also named TheMat.com Wrestler of the Week for moving up a weight class and providing the winning bout to win the Cornell Regional during the NWCA National Duals. Gonzalez finished the season with a career-best 26-9 record with five wins over ranked opponents.
Dallago Earns Wrestler of the Week
Tony Dallago earned the season's first Big Ten Wrestler of the Week honors on Nov. 6 after going 4-0 at the Loras Open and capturing the 184 title. The Harrisburg, Pa., native dominiated the competition, recording wins by pins in all four of his bouts including the fastest fall on the team in 23 seconds.
Illini Dominate Loras Open
Seven Illini wrestlers won titles at the Loras Open last Saturday with five others placing in the top four in their respective brackets. The Illini racked up 14 pins and seven technical falls during the season opening tournament. Redshirt-freshman Dominic Olivieri took the title at 125 pounds, senior Daryl Thomas placed first at 133, redshirt-freshman Steven Rodrigues earned the top spot at 141, and junior Tony Dallago took the 184 title.
Three Compete at All-Star Classic
Jesse Delgado (125), B.J. Futrell (141) and Jordan Blanton (174) were selected to compete at the 2012 NWCA All-Star Classic. Delgado fell to Penn State's Nico Megaludis 4-3, Futrell was defeated by Kendric Maple of Oklahoma 6-2 and Blanton was ousted by Josh Asper of Maryland 3-1 in SV1. The Illini were one of two universities to have three wrestlers chosen to compete at the event and the third Big Ten team to send multiple grapplers.
Illini to Appear on BTN Four Times
Illinois will be featured four times, with the Iowa dual at home and the dual at Minnesota being aired live on the Big Ten Network and the other two duals being streamed live on BigTenNetwork.com. Illinois will host the Big Ten Championships for the first time in 12 years, with it being covered live on Sunday, March 10.
Illini Return Four All-Americans
Illinois returns four wrestlers which earned All-America honors at the 2012 NCAA Championships, including Jesse Delgado at 125, B.J. Futrell at 133, Conrad Polz at 165 and Jordan Blanton at 174. Futrell and Blanton notched their second honor of their careers while it was the first for Delgado and Polz.