Michigan utilizes strong start to defeat Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The No. 19-ranked University of Michigan wrestling team took advantage of a strong start, winning three of the first four bouts, to knock off No. 11 Illinois, 19-13, in its first true road dual of the season on Friday evening (Jan. 17) at Huff Hall. The Wolverines won six individual matches and earned a pair of bonus victories.

Illinois earned a bonus point of its own with a major decision at 174 pounds -- the dual's opening weight class -- but the Wolverines rebounded with three straight wins at the upperweights.

Freshman Domenic Abounader (Gates Mills, Ohio/St. Edward HS) initiated the Wolverine surge at 184 pounds, using a late second-period takedown to edge Nikko Reyes, 3-1. After a scoreless first period, Abounader earned a quick escape in the second and scored on a single leg -- sealed with a hard tomahawk finish -- in the waning seconds of the frame. Reyes escaped in the third but could not penetrate Abounader's defense as the Wolverine rookie picked up his second straight Big Ten dual win of the season.

Senior/junior Chris Heald (West Bloomfield, Mich./West Bloomfield HS) also took advantage of a strong second period to break open his 197-pound match against Jeff Koepke, scoring on a quick escape and late single-leg takedown -- with cradle finish -- before adding two more takedowns in the third to ice a 7-4 decision.

Freshman heavyweight Adam Coon (Fowlerville, Mich./Fowlerville HS) was forced to rally after giving up the initial takedown -- just the fourth he has allowed this season -- against Chris Lopez, but he did so in commanding fashion to roll to a 12-3 major decision. After giving up a contested single leg early in the first, he escaped and quickly shot in on a single leg, driving Lopez to his back for five points. He rode out the second period and scored on two counter takedowns to earn the bonus point and improve to 22-0 on the season.

Illinois won back-to-back matches at 125 and 133 pounds, including a narrow 2-1 decision on a first-period illegal hold call from defending NCAA champion Jesse Delgado in the former bout. The 125-pound match also cost U-M a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The Wolverines again surged ahead with consecutive wins at 141 and 149 pounds. Senior/junior Steve Dutton (Miller Place, N.Y./Rocky Point HS) made his Michigan debut in the former, cruising to a 14-0 major decision over Dominic Olivieri on two takedowns, seven back points and 4:44 riding-time advantage. Fifth-year senior Eric Grajales (Brandon, Fla./Brandon HS) followed with a strong 8-4 decision over 19th-ranked Caleb Ervin, rallying from an early deficit with a two-point tilt in the second and a takedown off an arm drag early in the third.

The Fighting Illini claimed a tossup match at 157 pounds, where 14th-ranked Zac Brunson used a second-period rideout to earn a 2-0 decision over 15th-ranked freshman Brian Murphy (Carol Stream, Ill./Glenbard North HS), to narrow the team score, but fifth-year senior Dan Yates (Hesperia, Mich./Hesperia HS) iced it for Michigan, taking advantage of a quick start to knock off 12th-ranked Jackson Morse, 7-3. Yates, ranked seventh, scored on a pair of high-crotch takedowns in the first period and added another off a second-period front headlock.

The Wolverines will return home to host No. 3-ranked Minnesota on Sunday (Jan. 19). The match is slated for a 2 p.m. start at Cliff Keen Arena. Tickets are still available through the U-M Ticket Office.

174 -- Tony Dallago (UI) major dec. Collin Zeerip, 12-1 UI, 4-0
184 -- Domenic Abounader (U-M) dec. Nikko Reyes, 3-1 UI, 4-3
197 -- Chris Heald (U-M) dec. Jeff Koepke, 7-4 U-M, 6-4
Hwt -- #1 Adam Coon (U-M) major dec. Chris Lopez, 12-3 U-M, 10-4
125 -- #4 Jesse Delgado (UI) dec. Conor Youtsey, 2-1 U-M, 9-7*
133 -- #11 Zane Richards (UI) dec. Rossi Bruno, 7-1 UI, 10-9
141 -- Steve Dutton (U-M) major dec. Dominic Olivieri, 14-0 U-M, 13-10
149 -- #12 Eric Grajales (U-M) dec. #19 Caleb Ervin, 8-4 U-M, 16-10
157 -- #14 Zac Brunson (UI) dec. #15 Brian Murphy, 2-0 U-M, 16-13
165 -- #7 Dan Yates (U-M) dec. #12 Jackson Morse, 7-3 U-M, 19-13


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