"This is as good as we have wrestled to date, and against the best competition we have seen to this point," Head Coach Jim Heffernan said. "I saw a lot of progress on some of the things we've been doing in practice. There's still plenty to improve upon though and things we need to fix. As a team, we're really looking forward to Wednesday's dual meet at SIU Edwardsville."
Top-ranked Isaiah Martinez made his collegiate debut at 165 pounds, defeating No. 3 Daniel Lewis (Missouri) in the title bout, 7-4. Martinez (5-0) earned bonus points in his first four matches, including a first round pin, to set up the much-anticipated final against Lewis. After trailing 1-0 at the end of the first period, Martinez opened the second period with a quick reversal to take the lead. Lewis tied the match, 2-2, with an escape, but Martinez quickly brought him back to the mat to regain the lead, 4-2 in the second period. Martinez used a final takedown in the third frame, along with a point for riding time, to seal the decision.
"As always, Isaiah was fantastic and beat the third-ranked guy [Daniel Lewis], who is outstanding."
Like Martinez, No. 8 Black dominated in his two opening matches, using a tech fall (16-0) and a pin (2:38) to advance to the semifinal round where he shutout Austin Myers (Missouri), 4-0. Wrestling Rylee Streifel of Minnesota in the heavyweight title bout, Black (4-0) struck first with a two-point takedown in the opening minute. Maintaining a 2-0 advantage into the second frame, Black extended his lead to 6-0 and held on for a 6-1 decision to claim the victory.
"It was good to have Brooks [Black] back and healthy," Heffernan said. "He looked very good throughout the tournament, and is wrestling about as well as I've seen him since he came to Illinois."
Illinois' third title came from 184-pounder Emery Parker, his second tournament title this season. Parker (13-1) dominated all four of his matches today, using two technical falls and his first two pins of the season. Parker's second fall of the day came in the title match when he pinned Drew Foster (Northern Iowa) in 5:41.
"Emery had a really big day, scored a lot of points and had a great win in the finals as well," said Heffernan.
Zac Brunson took home runner-up honors at 174 pounds today, as the Illini senior dropped a 13-10 decision in the title match to Taylor Lujan of Northern Iowa. Brunson (12-2) dominated in the opening three matches of the day, using a technical fall, a pin and a major decision to reach the final.
Also making the final for the Illini was Brock Ervin, but the redshirt sophomore fell to Max Thomsen (Northern Iowa) by a decision of 3-1. Ervin (12-3) began the day with an 11-4 victory before notching his fourth pin of the season in the quarterfinal round. Ervin defeated Zander Wick in the semifinal round, 3-2, to advance to the final.
Wrestling unattached from the team, but also advancing to title bouts today, was true freshmen Travis Piotrowski and Dylan Duncan. Piotrowski used three victories by decision to start the afternoon, but was defeated by Minnesota's No. 15 Ethan Lizak in the final. Duncan, appearing in his second title match of the season, earned his first collegiate pin (5:53) when he defeated Eduardo Penha (St. Cloud State) in the first round. Duncan won the following two matches by decision before dropping a 6-3 decision to Jaydin Eierman (Missouri) in the final.
Rounding out the Illini placewinners today was a pair of fifth-place finishes by Xavier Montalvo (174 pounds) and unattached Wesley Kibler (197 pounds).
Up next, the Illini compete in their first dual meet of the season on Wednesday, December 7 when they travel to Edwardsville, Illinois to wrestle Southern Illinois-Edwardsville at the Jon Davis Center. The match is set for 7 p.m. central time.