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Minnesota overpowers Illinois

MINNEAPOLIS -- The No. 10 Gopher wrestling team (5-2) won five of the last six matches to defeat No. 13 Illinois (4-2), 25-13, on Friday night at Maturi Pavilion. Fifth-year senior Owen Webster upset No. 7 Zac Braunagel at 184 pounds, while top-ranked heavyweight Gable Steveson pinned sixth-ranked Luke Luffman in just 34 seconds to close out the dual.

Sophomore Patrick McKee gave the Gophers an early 3-0 lead with a 4-2 decision against No. 13 Justin Cardani at 125 pounds. Ranked seventh in the nation, McKee trailed most of the match, but used a takedown and two-point near fall with one minute remaining to erase a 2-0 deficit.

The Illini responded with three straight wins from ranked wrestlers to take a 10-3 lead, but the duo of Brayton Lee and Andrew Sparks erased the deficit with back-to-back technical falls. Ranked sixth in the country, Lee racked up 10 takedowns in a 26-8 victory at 157 pounds. A true freshman from California, Sparks improved to 6-1 in his rookie season with a 22-7 win at 165 pounds.

Junior Jake Allar extended Minnesota's lead to 16-10 with an 8-3 decision against DJ Shannon at 174 pounds, while Webster followed with his third straight win against a ranked foe. The Shakopee, Minn., native recorded the match's lone takedown in the second period and opened the third with an escape to deliver a 3-2 decision.

After an Illini decision at 197 pounds, it was time for Steveson to continue his dominance. After recording the second-fastest pin in school history at 13 seconds on January 22, Steveson earned the second-fastest fall of his collegiate career in just 34 seconds. The junior from Apple Valley, Minn., is now 7-0 on the season with a major, two pins and four technical falls.

The Golden Gophers will hit the road for the final time in the regular season when they face Wisconsin next Friday at 10 a.m. in Madison.

Results:
125: #7 Patrick McKee (UM) dec. #13 Justin Carani (ILL), 4-2 (UM 3, ILL 0)
133: #20 Lucas Byrd (ILL) maj. dec. #19 Boo Dryden (UM), 11-3 (ILL 4, UM 3)
141: #13 Dylan Duncan (ILL) dec. Marcos Polanco (UM), 4-2 (ILL 7, UM 3)
149: #8 Mike Carr (ILL) dec. Michael Blockhus (UM), 5-3 (ILL 10, UM 3)
157: #6 Brayton Lee (UM) tech. fall Johnny Mologousis (ILL), 26-8 6:03 (ILL 10, UM 8)
165: #15 Andrew Sparks (UM) tech. fall Luke Odom (ILL), 22-7 (UM 13, ILL 10)
174: #16 Jake Allar (UM) dec. DJ Shannon (ILL), 8-3 (UM 16, ILL 10)
184: #15 Owen Webster (UM) dec. #7 Zac Braunagel (ILL), 3-2 (UM 19, ILL 10)
197: Matt Wroblewski (ILL) dec. Garrett Joles (UM), 6-4 SV1 (UM 19, ILL 13)
HWT: #1 Gable Steveson (UM) pinned #6 Luke Luffman (ILL), 0:34 (UM 25, ILL 13)

Extra Matches:
133: Jake Gliva (UM) dec. We Rachal (ILL), 6-2
141: Danny Pucino (ILL) pinned Brent Jones (UM), 6:00
149: Jake Bergeland (UM) dec. Christian Kanzler (ILL), 2-1
174: Bailee O'Reilly (UM) dec. Trey Sizemore (ILL), 11-4

*Extra Matches: Due to only wrestling within the conference, the Big Ten will permit schools to hold extra matches on competition dates. Though they will not count towards dual scoring, they will count towards an individual's varsity record for purposes of seeding for the conference and national tournament.

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