Feb. 6, 2009
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- No. 16 Northwestern won four bouts against No. 9 Illinois but it was not enough as the Illini wrestled their way to a 22-13 win over the Wildcats in front of a crowd of 1,070 at Huff Hall in Champaign. NU now heads to Minneapolis for a bout with No. 8 Minnesota at 2 p.m. Sunday.
The loss was NU's first of the 2009 Big Ten season as the Wildcats move to 9-4-1 overall on the year. Fans can catch the replay of the match on the Big Ten Network beginning at 9:30 p.m. CT.
Beginning the match at the bottom of the lineup, No. 3 Brandon Precin faced Illinois freshman B.J. Futrell at 125 and appeared to take a 2-0 lead with a first-period takedown. But the officials conferred at the next whistle and rescinded the points. Precin was not discouraged, however, getting his first takedown in the second period before scoring two back points with one minute remaining in the frame. Futrell spent much of the third period in bottom position, with Precin tacking on a point for a stall against Illinois as well as a riding time point for the 6-0 decision.
Junior Eric Metzler squared off against the third-ranked 133-pounder in the nation in Jimmy Kennedy, who collected four takedowns on his way to a 12-4 major decision. Metzler managed to keep close in the contest thanks to a number of escapes and a stalling point against Kennedy, but a late takedown plus the riding time point gave the Illini a four-point win.
Fans at Huff Hall saw a flurry of action in the first period of the match between NU’s Keith Sulzer and U of I’s Ryan Prater at 141, with both wrestlers nearing back points leading up to the period buzzer. It was more of the same in the second as Sulzer appeared to have notched a takedown before the action was blown dead, sending the match into the third in a scoreless tie.
The lack of scoring only increased the drama throughout the match as both competitors struggled for control. Prater finally scored on an escape with just under a minute remaining only to find himself on his back 30 seconds later. Sulzer was granted two points for the takedown and two critical back points to nab three points for Northwestern with a 4-1 decision. The match closely mirrored the exciting competition between Sulzer and Prater in last year’s dual match in Evanston in which Sulzer won, 7-4, in two tiebreakers.
At 149, it was another tightly contested bout between NU’s Andrew Nadhir and the Illini’s Eric Terrazas. Nadhir trailed 4-3 entering the third period but took control of the action at the 1:15 mark to take a 5-4 lead. An escape on the ensuing restart tied the score in the final minute and neither wrestler had the riding time point in hand. Nadhir again notched two points with 20 seconds showing on the clock and took home the 7-5 decision for the ’Cats.
Fourteenth-ranked NU freshman Jason Welch stepped on the mat to face last year’s NCAA runner-up, No. 2 Mike Poeta, and continually stymied Poeta’s attempts to shoot, ending the first period in a 0-0 tie. Poeta escaped to open the second period and finally got his first takedown a minute into the period. Poeta later sacrificed a point on a stall, sending the match to the third with the scoreboard showing 3-1.
Welch sandwiched two escapes around a takedown by Poeta, keeping close at 5-3. Poeta managed to come away with two late takedowns to win a 9-4 decision, a significant improvement for Welch over his 21-7 loss to Poeta just over a year ago in the 2007 Midlands Championships as a high school senior.
Following a 12-minute intermission, Dominic Marella took on Illinois' 15th-ranked Roger Smith-Bergsrud at 165. Marella almost got on the board first with a takedown but carried the action too far out of the circle as the first period ended scoreless. In the second, Marella escaped from the bottom position for the match's first point, which Smith-Bergsrud countered with an escape to start the third. With 11 seconds remaining, however, Smith-Bergsrud came up with the deciding takedown to steal three points for the Illini and win, 3-1.
At 174, Illinois' John Dergo maintained the home team's momentum, taking control of the contest with an early takedown and scoring again just before the first-period buzzer to gain a 4-1 lead over NU's Robert Kellogg. Dergo went on to build a 10-3 advantage and notch the bonus-point major decision with the riding time point.
Illinois surprised the crowd at Huff Hall by sending Ben Friedl out in place of 12th-ranked freshman Jordan Blanton to face No. 1 Jake Herbert at 184. Clearly in control with a 13-4 lead in the second, Herbert coasted to a 23-9 major decision for his 22nd win in an unbeaten senior campaign.
The Illini instead sent Blanton to the mat at 197 against NU redshirt freshman John Schoen. Tied at two late in the second, Blanton got a hold of Schoen's right leg and took a 4-2 lead into the third session. Blanton scored on an escape from the down position with just over 90 seconds remaining and resisted Schoen's shots down the stretch to earn a critical three points for Illinois with an 11-4 decision.
Illinois finished the match with a 15-0 tech fall victory by No. 10 John Wise against Northwestern's Paul Rands.
No. 9 Illinois 22, No. 16 Northwestern 13
125: No. 3 Brandon Precin (NU) dec. B.J. Futrell (ILL), 6-0 (NU 3, ILL 0)
133: No. 3 Jimmy Kennedy (ILL) MD Eric Metzler (NU), 12-4 (ILL 4, NU 3)
141: No. 16 Keith Sulzer (NU) dec. Ryan Prater (ILL), 4-1 (NU 6, ILL 4)
149: Andrew Nadhir (NU) dec. Eric Terrazas (ILL), 7-5 (NU 9, ILL 4)
157: No. 2 Mike Poeta (ILL) dec. No. 14 Jason Welch (NU), 9-4 (NU 9, ILL 7)
165: No. 15 Roger Smith-Bergsrud (ILL) dec. Dominic Marella (NU), 3-1 (ILL 10, NU 9)
174: John Dergo (ILL) MD Robert Kellogg (NU), 11-3 (ILL 14, NU 9)
184: No. 1 Jake Herbert (NU) MD Ben Friedl (ILL), 23-9 (ILL 14, NU 13)
197: No. 12 Jordan Blanton (ILL) dec. John Schoen (NU), 11-4 (ILL 17, NU 13)
285: No. 10 John Wise (ILL) TF Paul Rands (NU), 15-0 (ILL 22, NU 13)