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Illinois Wrestling: No. 9 Illini upset by No. 18 Lehigh

The Orange and Blue suffer their first loss of the season.

Illinois' 13th-ranked Nikko Reyes, right, grapples against Lehigh's fifth-ranked Nathaniel Brown on Saturday at Huff Hall.
Illinois' 13th-ranked Nikko Reyes, right, grapples against Lehigh's fifth-ranked Nathaniel Brown on Saturday at Huff Hall.
Courtesy of Illinois Athletics

The ninth-ranked Illini fell into an early 18-0 hole and climbed their way back within three to set up the match of the night between two wrestlers ranked in the top 15 at 184 pounds.

Lehigh's fifth-ranked Nathaniel Brown and the Illini's 13th-ranked Nikko Reyes. The match was as advertised - a close one. Brown pulled out the 2-1 decision and John Bolich topped Jeff Koepke 4-3 at 197 pounds to upset the Illini 24-15 on Saturday at Huff Hall.

The loss is the first for the Illini in dual meet action this season. The Orange and Blue are now 6-1 and will be off until Dec. 29-30 at the Midlands Championships in Evanston, Ill.

Kyle Langenderfer started the Illini comeback at 141 pounds, where he earned a 17-7 major decision victory over Drew Longo. Langenderfer recorded five takedowns and two near falls.

Next up was sixth-ranked Isaiah Martinez at 157 pounds with a 25-9 technical fall over William Switzer. Martinez held a 4-1 advantage after the first period before picking up the pace with seven takedowns over the final two periods.

12th-ranked Jackson Morse at 165 pounds and ninth-ranked Zac Brunson at 174 pounds, picked up decisions to cut the deficit to 18-15. Morse won 7-5 over Santiago Martinez and Brunson a 6-2 winner against Marshall Peppelman.

The meet began with a heavyweight battle between 18th-ranked Brooks Black and Douglas Vollaro. After three periods, the match was tied 1-1 and went into overtime, where Vollaro recorded a takedown in sudden victory to earn the 3-1 victory.

The Illini forfeited the 125 bout to give Lehigh a 9-0 lead. Dominic Olivieri held fifth-ranked Mason Beckman within reach before he took over in the final period for a 6-3 victory. Randy Cruz pinned 14th-ranked Steven Rodrigues at 1:30 to increase the Mountain Hawks' lead to 18-0.

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