#5 Illini Head to Lindenwood Open

Steven Rodrigues has placed in the top five in each of the two open tournaments this season and looks to continue success on Saturday.
Steven Rodrigues has placed in the top five in each of the two open tournaments this season and looks to continue success on Saturday.

Nov. 16, 2012

Lindenwood Open PreviewGet Acrobat Reader

#5 Illinois at Lindenwood Open
Saturday, Nov. 17 // Hyland Arena // St. Charles, Mo.

• 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 went 5-0 last weekend to win the 141 title at the Harold Nichols Cyclone Open. Futrell's two pins last weekend moves him into second in school history on the career pins list with 31, tying Keith Healy (1985-1988). 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.

• 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.

Buy Big Ten Championships Tickets
All-Session reserved school block tickets for the 2013 Big Ten Wrestling Championships are on sale now. The Illini will host the championships in Assembly Hall on March 9-10. Fans have until Friday, Feb. 8 to place their reserved All-Session tickets within their school block. For more information on tickets, contact the Illinois Ticket Office at 1-866-Illini-1.

Futrell Wins Title at Harold Cyclone Open
Redshirt-senior B.J. Futrell won his first 141 title of his career at the Harold NIchols Cyclone Open on Saturday. Twelve grapplers placed at the tournament, including 10 Illini finishing in the top-five in each of their weight classes.

Futrell Chasing School History in Pins
Two-time All-American B.J. Futrell began his season strong, winning two more matches by pins. The redshirt-senior has 31 total falls in his career and is currently tied for the second most in school history with Keith Healy. Adam Tirapelle (1998-01) holds the school record with 33 pins in his career.

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 dominated the competition, recording wins by pins in all four of his bouts including the fastest fall on the team in 23 seconds.