The Fighting Illini began their 2015-16 campaign by dominating their three opponents at the Eastern Michigan Open. In the morning, the Orange and Blue pounced on Olivet College with a convincing 42-3 victory. The middle dual featured an Illini victory over Utah Valley 32-6. Coach Heffernan's squad wrapped up the day with a 34-6 victory over Clarion. 157-pound defending national champion Isaiah Martinez paced the team with three technical falls today after leading the nation (11) last season.
"We looked decent but inconsistent in spots," said Coach Jim Heffernan. "It's very early so the errors we made and the inconsistencies that were there are all correctable. Steven looks great at his new weight, and is wrestling with a lot of energy. This will be a great weight class for him. [I thought] Francis completed hard and had chances to win two of his matches today. Andre looked a little tight today, but he will get that worked out. He's a competitive kid and will make adjustments. Both did some good things for this being their first time out."
The Illini kicked-off their season with a midmorning contest against Olivet College. Francis Edelen fell to Michael Schmidt by a score of 9-5. After falling behind 3-0, the veteran grapplers took over for Illinois. Zane Richards started things off with a fall (4:24) and Brock Ervin added on with a fall of his own (2:14), taking a 12-3 advantage. Starting with Langenderfer, the Illini rattled off four straight technical falls, including a 17-2 tech fall by Steven Rodrigues in his first bout at 165 pounds.
Two decisions by Jeff Koepke and Andre Lee, and a major decision from Brooks Black wrapped up a 42-3 drubbing.
Jim Heffernan's squad continued their day with a dual against Utah Valley. The Fighting Illini fell behind 3-0 again, but Zane Richards got the Illini on the board with a 14-4 major decision at 133 pounds. Brock Ervin and Kyle Langenderfer both grabbed three points for the Illini to extend the lead to 10-3. For the second dual in a row, Martinez dominated at 157 pounds, netting a 22-7 technical fall. Upperclassman once against sealed the Illini victory, as Steven Rodrigues, Zac Brunson, and Jeff Koepke combined for two major decisions and a tech fall. Black concluded the scoring with a 2-1 decision to give the team a 32-6 victory.
A late afternoon match against Clarion concluded the day for the Orange and Blue, another dual the Illini ran away with, winning X to X. Francis Edelen dropped a hard fought 7-6 decision at 125 pounds, but Richards quickly grabbed the lead with a 23-5 technical fall. Clarion's Brock Zacherl gave the Golden Eagles another lead after 141 pounds when he took down Brock Ervin 3-1. The Illini responded in a big way to take control of the dual when Langenderfer and Martinez grabbed a fall and a technical fall, respectively. Rodrigues, Koepke, Lee and Black all added decisions, while Brunson completed his second fall of the day (2:54).
The Fighting Illini will make their home debut next Sunday when they host Southern Illinois Edwardsville and Arizona State as part of the Illini Duals on November 15 at noon.
#10 Illinois 42, Olivet College 3
125 - Michael Schmidt (Olivet) over Francis Edelen (Ill.) Dec 9-5
133 - #6 Zane Richards (Ill.) over Evan Hoshaw (Olivet) Fall 4:24
141 - Brock Ervin (Ill.) over Dean Roberts (Olivet) Fall 2:14
149 - Kyle Langenderfer (Ill.) over Austin Kelley (Olivet) TF 18-3
157 - #1 Isaiah Martinez (Ill.) over Ross Pennock (Olivet) TF 22-4
165 - Steven Rodrigues (Ill.) over Kevin Papak (Olivet) TF 17-2
174 - #6 Zac Brunson (Ill.) over Nicholas Affricano (Olivet) TF 16-0
184 - #17 Jeff Koepke (Ill.) over Rodney Harvey (Olivet) Dec 6-4
197 - Andre Lee (Ill.) over Thomas Hall (Olivet) Dec 6-3
285 - #14 Brooks Black (Ill.) over Youseff El-Sayed (Olivet) Maj 14-5
#10 Illinois 32, Utah Valley 6
125 - #13 Chasen Tolbert (UV) over Francis Edelen (Ill.) Dec 5-1
133 - #6 Zane Richards (Ill.) over Jade Rauser (UV) Maj 14-4
141 - Brock Ervin (Ill.) over Jarod Mayness (UV) Dec 12-6
149 - Kyle Langenderfer (Ill.) over Brayden Humphreys (UV) Dec 8-3
157 - #1 Isaiah Martinez (Ill.) over Raider Lofthouse (UV) TF 22-7
165 - Steven Rodrigues (Ill.) over Kieffer Taylor (UV) Maj 20-8
174 - #6 Zac Brunson (Ill.) over Ross Taylor (UV) Fall 4:57
184 - #17 Jeff Koepke (Ill.) over Will Sumner (UV) Maj 17-6
197 - Derek Thomas (UV) over Andre Lee (Ill.) Dec 5-2
285 - #14 Brooks Black (Ill.) over Dustin Dennison (UV) Dec 2-1
#10 Illinois 34, Clarion 6
125 - Patrick Dewitt (Clarion) over Francis Edelen (Ill.) Dec 7-6
133 - #6 Zane Richards over Mike Bartolo (Clarion) TF 23-5
141 - Brock Zacherl (Clarion) over Brock Ervin (Ill.) Dec 3-1
149 - Kyle Langenderfer (Ill.) over Jake Keller (Clarion) Fall 2:02
157 - #1 Isaiah Martinez (Ill.) over Morgan Way (Clarion) TF 22-7
165 - Steven Rodrigues (Ill.) over Evan Delong (Clarion) Dec 13-7
174 - #6 Zac Brunson (Ill.) over Michael Pavasko (Clarion) Fall 2:54
184 - #17 Jeff Kopeke (Ill.) over Dominic Rigous (Clarion) Dec 4-2
197 - Andre Lee (Ill.) over Dustin Conti (Clarion) Dec 7-4
285 - #14 Brooks Black (Ill.) over Evan Daley (Clarion) Dec 9-4