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Illinois Wrestling: No. 9 Illini rally past No. 23 Rutgers in Big Ten season opener

2-Time defending national champ Jesse Delgado didn't wrestle, but Illinois wins 24-9

The No. 9 Illinois wrestling team gave Big Ten newcomer No. 23 Rutgers a rude welcome to the conference with a 24-9 drumming, winning seven of 10 weight classes at Huff Hall on Friday night.

The dual started at 197 pounds with Illinois' (7-1) Jeff Koepke taking a 2-0 decision over Andrew Campolattano. Koepke opened the second period with an escape then rode Campolattano out in the third. It was Koepke's first win in three matches, after he fell in back-to-back matches at the 52nd annual Midlands Championships for sixth-place.

Rutgers' No. 9 Billy Smith put the Scarlet Knights on the board with a 2-1 sudden victory over heavyweight Brooks Black. The two exchanged escapes in the second and third periods, respectively to force overtime. Smith escaped in the first 30 seconds then held on for the victory.

Rutgers took their first ever lead in a Big Ten dual after Sean McCabe topped Dominic Olivieri, 5-4, at 125 pounds. Two-time defending national champion Jesse Delgado was a meet time decision and coach Jim Heffernan opted to rest him yet again for unknown reasons.

No. 6 Zane Richards tied the dual with a 11-8 decision over Scott Delvecchio. Richards recorded four takedowns and a two-point near-fall to take a 10-3 lead into the second period. Delvechhio escaped and grabbed a takedown to cut the deficit to 10-6 and took Richards down again in the third, but he held on for the victory.

No. 19 Steven Rodrigues' first period takedown was enough for a 2-0 upset victory over No. 7 Anthony Ashnault gave the Fighting Illini a 9-6 lead. Kyle Langenderfer fell by 5-2 decision to Ken Theobold at 149 pounds to tie the meet again, but the Illini rebounded with four straight wins at the heart of their lineup.

No. 7 Isaiah Martinez major decisioned 2014 All-American and No. 17 Anthony Perrotti, 19-6 at 157 pounds. Martinez recorded six takedowns and a two-point near-fall to improve to 17-0 on the season. No. 8 Jackson Morse picked up a 10-2 major decision over Nick Gravina at 165 pounds, and No. 6 Zac Brunson's 8-2 decision over Phil Bakuckas at 174 pounds clinched the victory.

Morse recorded two takedowns in the first, one in the second and third on his birthday. Brunson opened the match with a takedown and a three-point near-fall, and added another takedown in the third.

No. 20 Nikko Reyes finished the meet with a 12-4 major decision over Anthnoy Pafumi. Reyes followed Brunson's lead with an identical scrolling line in the first. The two exchanged escapes in the second before Reyes recorded an escape and two takedowns in the final period.

The Illini grapple next at noon on Sunday in Bloomington, Ind.

Meet Results

197: Jeff Koepke (ILL) over Andrew Campolattano (RUT) (Dec 2-0)
285: No. 9 Billy Smith (RUT) over Brooks Black (ILL) (SV-2 2-1)
125: Sean McCabe (RUT) over Dominic Olivieri (ILL) (Dec 5-4)
133: No. 6 Zane Richards (ILL) over Scott Delvecchio (RUT) (Dec 11-8)
141: No. 19 Steven Rodrigues (ILL) over No. 7 Anthony Ashnault (RUT) (Dec 2-0)
149: Ken Theobold (RUT) over Kyle Langenderfer (ILL) (Dec 5-2)
157: No. 7 Isaiah Martinez (ILL) over No. 17 Anthony Perrotti (RUT) (MD 19-6)
165: No. 8 Jackson Morse (ILL) over Nick Gravina (RUT) (MD 10-2)
174: No. 6 Zac Brunson (ILL) over Phil Bakuckas (RUT) (Dec 8-2)
184: No. 20 Nikko Reyes (ILL) over Anthony Pafumi (RUT) (MD 12-4)

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