CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The Illinois wrestling team began the Big Ten season with a 29-10 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers in front of 1,069 fans to improve to 54-29-2 all time in the border battle. Seven of the ten Illini posted victories, including bonus points from Tony Dallago (184), B.J. Futrell (141) and Matt Nora (157).
"It was a solid performance tonight," head coach Jim Heffernan said. "We started the dual in a good spot, winning the first four weights. We tell our guys everyday, if you wrestle hard, you have a chance to win every match and I think thats what a lot of them did tonight. Tony looked good and was pretty excited all week. Nice to start weekend with a win and gives our guys a few more days to heal. We need our guys to get healthy, its very critical."
The dual started at 174 where No. 4 Jordan Blanton faced Chad Welch. Blanton notched his 16th victory of the season after moving past Welch by a 10-2 decision. At 184, No. 11 Tony Dallago got the Illini bonus points with his pin of Andy Wiseman in 1:25 to record his eighth of the season and push the Orange and Blue up 10-0. The Illini continued their success when 197-pounder Mario Gonzalez moved past No. 18 Braden Atwood by an 11-4 decision to give Gonzalez his seventh win of the season.
Heavyweight Chris Lopez earned his first collegiate dual meet victory against Purdue's Alex White by a 4-3 decision to push the team score to 16-0. The Purdue Boilermakers got four points on the score board at 125 pounds as Camden Eppert moved past redshirt-freshman Dominic Olivieri by a 12-4 major decision. Purdue got three more points at 133 pounds after Logan Arlis dropped his bout 11-4 to Purdue's Danny Sabatello. The Boilermakers inched closer in the team score, but the Illini held the lead 16-7 with four bouts remaining. B.J. Futrell got the Illini back in action as he notched his 19th victory of the season as he majored Purdue's Brandon Nelsen 13-5 to push the team score to 20-7.
At 157 pounds, Matt Nora wrestled Purdue's Tommy Churchard, a returning NCAA qualifier. Nora found himself down 3-0 in the second period but turned Churchard to his back and pinned the Boilermaker to record his 10th overall victory this season and third pin of the year. In the last bout of the night, senior Conrad Polz defeated Pat Robinson 10-3 to close out the Illini's 29-10 victory.
"I knew Tommy was a tough competitor and it would be a close match," Nora said. "I had to listen to my coaches and wrestle hard for the entire seven minutes. I wasn't so much worried about the outcome, more so just trying to fill my role on the team. I knew if I competed to my best ability, good things would happen."
The Illini will continue their Big Ten season next weekend when they travel to Nebraska on Friday, Jan. 18 and Minnesota on Monday, Jan. 21.
174: #4 Jordan Blanton (ILL) dec. Chad Welch (PUR), 10-2 (3-0)
184: #11 Tony Dallago (ILL) pinned Andy Wiseman (PUR), 1:25 (10-0)
197: #5 Mario Gonzalez (ILL) dec. #18 Braden Atwood (PUR), 11-4 (13-0)
HWT: Chris Lopez (ILL) dec. Alex White (PUR), 4-3 (16-0)
125: #18 Camden Eppert (PUR) major dec. Dominic Olivieri (ILL), 12-4 (16-4)
133: Danny Sabatello (PUR) dec. Logan Arlis (ILL), 11-4, (16-7)
141: #3 B.J. Futrell (ILL) major dec. Brandon Nelsen (PUR), 13-5 (20-7)
149: #12 Ivan Lopouchanski (PUR) dec. Caleb Ervin (ILL), 2-0 (20-10)
157: Matt Nora (ILL) pinned Tommy Churchard (PUR), 4:34 (26-10)
165: #7 Conrad Polz (ILL) dec. Pat Robinson (PUR), 10-3 (29-10)