Sophomore 149-pounder Eric Terrazas has started 6-0 this season.
Nov. 19, 2009
#17 Illinois at Sprawl and Brawl Duals
Nov. 22 // West Gym // Vestal, N.Y.
#17 Illinois at Missouri Open
Nov. 22 // Hearnes Center // Columbia, Mo.
Illinois (0-1) Probable Dual Starters
125: B.J. Futrell (4-1), So., Park Forest, Ill. or John Deneen (1-0), Jr., Marengo, Ill.
133: Daryl Thomas (4-2), r-Fr., Edwardsville, Ill.
141: #17 Ryan Prater (1-0), Jr., Plainfield, Ill.
149: Eric Terrazas (6-0), So., Wheaton, Ill.
157: Clint Arlis (6-1), Sr., Batavia, Ill.
165: Conrad Polz (5-3), r-Fr., Orland Park, Ill.
174: #7 Jordan Blanton (5-0), So., Richmond, Ill.
184: #8 John Dergo (4-1), Sr., Morris, Ill.
197: #18 Patrick Bond (4-1), Sr., Chesapeake, Va.
Hwt: Pat Walker (7-5), r-Fr., Lombard, Ill.
After a strong freshman year, sophomore No. 7 Jordan Blanton is enjoying his move down to 174 pounds this season with a 5-0 start and four pins. He pinned his way to a tournament title at the Lindenwood Open before earning a 7-4 win over No. 20 Dorian Henderson to begin Illinois' match at Missouri on Nov. 12.
No. 8 John Dergo also has started strong in his move up to 184, holding a 4-1 record with the loss coming at the hands of No. 2 Max Askren at the Missouri dual. Dergo held a 4-3 lead on Askren entering the final period before the Tiger escaped and got a late takedown and near-fall for a six-point third period.
Sophomore 149-pounder Eric Terrazas battled through a tough freshman year but has burst out to a fast start this season. He's 6-0 with a first-place finish at the Lindenwood Open and a dual win over Missouri's Brandon Wiest. Terrazas didn't get his first dual win against a Division I opponent until Feb. 20 last season.
Illini Split Squad for Weekend
No. 17 Illinois will split its squad this weekend, with wrestlers going to three different events. The Illini's starters will travel to the Journeymen/ASICS Sprawl & Brawl duals to face Pittsburgh, Davidson and West Virginia; a number of reserves will head to the Missouri Open; and volunteer assistant coach Mike Poeta and redshirting Jimmy Kennedy will compete in the New York Athletic Club (NYAC) Holiday International Wrestling Championships freestyle tournament.
The Illini are coming off a valiant season-opening performance in an 18-16 loss at No. 10 Missouri on Nov. 12. Junior John Deneen gave Illinois a boost at 125, when he earned a major decision while filling in for the injured B.J. Futrell, and new starter Clint Arlis scored a hard-fought win at 157 to give the Illini a chance to win the dual.
The Orange and Blue took care of both Pitt and West Virginia in their respective gyms last year, downing the Mountaineers, 26-19, before dispatching the Panthers, 26-10, the following night.
Illini Notch Early Pins
Through two tournaments and one dual, Illinois already has registered 17 pins by non-redshirting wrestlers, on pace to reach the top 10 in school history for single-season pins. The tenth-best entry on that list is 37 pins, which the Illini are well within range of. Leading the way so far are No. 7 Jordan Blanton with four and No. 8 John Dergo with three falls. No. 18 Patrick Bond, Conrad Polz and B.J. Futrell all have two pins.
#19 Illinois Falls to #10 Mizzou, 18-16
No. 19 Illinois battled valiantly but No. 7 Nick Marable used a 3-2 win over Illini redshirt-freshman Conrad Polz to give No. 10 Missouri an 18-16 win at the Hearnes Center on Nov. 12. The Illini trailed 15-7 with only four bouts left, but Ryan Prater, Eric Terrazas and Clint Arlis all scored decisions at 141, 149 and 157 to push Illinois ahead 16-15. That set the stage for the Marable-Polz bout, which the two-time All-American narrowly pulled out for the dual win.
The Redshirts are Coming!
After seeing Roger Smith-Bergsrud and John Wise graduate, and with senior Jimmy Kennedy redshirting this season, the Illini have turned to a trio of redshirt-freshmen to fill the classes of 133, 165 and heavyweight. Daryl Thomas, of Edwardsville, Ill., Conrad Polz, of Orland Park, Ill., and Pat Walker, of Lombard, Ill., have compiled a 16-10 record thus far. Thomas finished second at the Lindenwood Open to 2009 NAIA champion Ray Stephens before dropping a close bout at Missouri. Polz was 4-2 at Lindenwood prior to his near miss at Missouri and Walker went 4-2 at Lindenwood and 3-2 at the Eastern Michigan Open.
Dergo, Blanton Switch Spots in Lineup
After both John Dergo and Jordan Blanton had strong seasons in 2009, few would've predicted the move they have executed for 2010 - switching weight classes. Dergo has bumped up to 184 pounds - where he wrestled as a true freshman, going 24-12 and placing fifth at the Big Ten Championships - and Blanton has dropped to 174 after going 27-11 with a fourth-place Big Ten finish at 184 a year ago. So far the results bear out the switch, as Blanton is 5-0 with a tournament title and a win over a ranked opponent, and Dergo is 4-1 with a tournament title and a hard-fought loss to No. 2 Max Askren (Missouri).
Heffernan Takes Hold of Reins
Head coach Jim Heffernan has taken the reins of the Illinois wrestling program after former head coach Mark Johnson retired following the end of the 2009 season, but don't expect a great deal of change in the Illini program. Heffernan was with Johnson for his entire 17-year stint in Orange and Blue and has kept the coaching staff intact, promoting Carl Perry to associate head coach and Jeremy Hunter to a full-time assistant position. Three-time All-American Mike Poeta joins the group as a volunteer assistant coach while he is training for freestyle competitions.
Illinois Returns 6 NCAA Qualifiers
The Fighting Illini enter the season with six returning NCAA qualifiers from a year ago, but only five will likely see the mat for Illinois this season. Senior two-time All-American Jimmy Kennedy is planning to redshirt before moving up to 141 next year, while junior Ryan Prater is likely to be the starter at 141. Sophomore B.J. Futrell returns following an appearance at the national meet last year and classmate Jordan Blanton is in the lineup at 174 this year after wrestling at 184 a year ago. Three-time NCAA qualifier John Dergo, who was one win from an All-America honor last season, moves up to 184 and fellow three-time NCAA qualifier and senior Patrick Bond is Illinois' 197-pounder.
Illinois Signs Three For 2010
Head coach Jim Heffernan announced the signing of three of the top wrestlers in the nation for the Class of 2010 on Nov. 12. Jamie Clark, of Medina, Ohio, Jed Lightfoot, of Yorkville, Ill., and Jackson Morse, of Alto, Mich., will join the Illini squad next year. Clark is currently listed as the No. 7 overall recruit in the country by Intermat, while Morse is No. 21 overall. Lightfoot was a two-time Junior National All-American.
Clark, who hails from St. Edward High School - Heffernan's alma mater - is a two-time Ohio state champ and the top-ranked recruit in the nation at 130 pounds. He was the Outstanding Wrestler at the Freestyle Cadet Nationals in 2007 and will wrestle at 133 for Illinois.
Lightfoot was the 2009 IHSA Class 2A runner-in at 125, going 25-5 for the season. He also led Yorkville to a team runner-up finish at the 2009 IHSA Class 2A dual team state tournament. He'll wrestle either 141 or 149 at Illinois.
Morse won consecutive Michigan Division 2 state titles at 140 in 2008 and 152 in 2009, while finishing runner-up at 125 in 2007. He's the No. 2 national recruit at 152 and No. 21 overall, having won consecutive titles at the Super 32 tournament. He will wrestle 157 in college.