With the help of its heavy weight wrestlers, the Minnesota wrestling team bounced back from a deficit to defeat Illinois, 18-14, tonight at the Sports Pavilion. The Gophers remain undefeated in conference competition (5-0) and improve to 11-1 overall on the season. The loss drops the Illini to 1-2 in league play and 5-2 overall.
Illinois jumped to a 7-0 lead after winning the first two bouts on the night. At 125 lbs., Jesse Delgado defeated David Thorn, 5-2, while Daryl Thomas upset Chris Dardanes with a 17-8 major at 133 lbs.
Nick Dardanes was the first Gopher to get on the board with a 10-3 victory over Illinois' Logan Arlis. Fans saw the second major decision upset of the night in the 149-pound bout. Dylan Ness was caught off guard and fell to Caleb Ervin.
At 157 lbs., Danny Zilverberg notched his first dual win of the season with a 7-2 decision over Matt Nora. Conrad Polz was the last wrestler to tally points for the opposing Illini with a 7-4 decision over Cody Yohn.
Minnesota's final four wrestlers won out the remainder of the match. Logan Storley got his revenge on Jordan Blanton in the 174-pound match-up with a 6-5 decision. Blanton previously defeated Storley in last year's NCAA tournament to knock him out of championship contention. Kevin Steinhaus brought the crowd to its feet in his match-up against Tony Dallago. Attempting to go for bonus points with a major decision, Steinhaus served up takedown after takedown, but ultimately settled for a still commanding 10-3 victory.
Scott Schiller was the real energizer of the match. Facing a higher-ranked opponent, the Gophers needed a win to stay alive in the dual. Schiller delivered with an exciting 4-2 victory that put his team ahead 15-14 with one match to go. Nelson closed out the night at heavyweight where he easily handled Illinois' Chris Lopez for a 10-3 decision, collecting over three full minutes of riding time.
The Gophers will have a short week before jumping back onto the mat on this Saturday, Jan. 26. The squad will host Big Ten rival Iowa at Williams Arena for a 3 p.m. dual. The match will also be featured on Big Ten Network.