#6 Illini to Compete at Harold Nichols Cyclone Open
Nov. 8, 2012
#6 Illinois at Harold Nichols Cyclone Open
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.
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