Illinois, ranked fifth in W.I.N. Magazine's Tournament Power Index (TPI), will host Kent State in the regional round of the National Wrestling Coaches Association National Duals on Sunday.
The 16-team tournament begins this weekend at eight host sites. The winners of those eight regional duals advance to Iowa City on Feb. 21-22 and compete in the championship round. Ten of the 16 teams are ranked.
Last season, the Illini fell to Central Michigan 19-13 in Columbus, before rebounding with consecutive wins over Bloomsburg 23-8 and Kent State 24-13. Illinois would fall to Oregon State 18-17 in the consolation round.
And Kent State won its opening round matchup with Iowa State 19-16, before falling to host Ohio State and Illinois. Caleb Marsh at 174-pound was the only grappler to go 3-0 for the Golden Flashes. Two years ago, the Golden Flashes fell to top-seeded Oklahoma State, before beating Wisconsin.
The Illini (12-4, 6-3 Big Ten) hold a perfect 3-0 record over the Golden Flashes (8-12, 4-4 MAC) in dual meets. Tyler Small, Ian Miller, Caleb Marsh and Cole Baker accounted for Kent State's four wins against Illinois in last year's meeting.
|2008||Illinois 19||Kent State 15|
|2011||Illinois 24||Kent State 18|
|2014||Illinois 24||Kent State 13|
Illinois suffered three consecutive Big Ten losses to Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska in the middle of January but have since won four straight. Kent State, ranked No. 25 in InterMat, is coming off a 27-6 victory over Northern Illinois on Friday night at home.
The Illini boast four wrestlers ranked in the top 10 and eight in the top 20 of their respective weight classes, while the Golden Flashes have two in No. 19 Mack McGuire at 133 and No. 6 Ian Miller at 157.
Illinois Probable Starters
125: 1/1 Jesse Delgado, 5-0, Sr.
133: 7/8 Zane Richards, 21-4, R-So.
141: 13/12 Steven Rodrigues, 13-7, R-Jr.
149: -/- Kyle Langenderfer, 15-11, R-Jr.
157: 2/2 Isaiah Martinez, 25-0, R-Fr.
165: 8/8 Jackson Morse, 23-4, R-Sr.
174: 7/10 Zac Brunson, 22-4, R-So.
184: 19/- Nikko Reyes, 20-9, R-So.
197: -/- Jeff Koepke, 16-11, R-Jr.
HWT: -/- Brooks Black, 14-10, R-Fr.
OR -/- Christopher Lopez, 11-5, R-Jr.
Kent State Probable Starters
125: -/- Del Vinas, 11-22
133: 19/- Mack McGuire, 25-10
141: -/- Tyler Small, 29-10
149: -/- Mike DePalma, 17-16
157: 6/4 Ian Miller, 11-3
165: -/- Tyler Buckwalter, 22-14
174: -/- Caleb Marsh, 13-5
184: -/- Jerald Spohn, 22-19
197: -/- Cole Baxter, 17-10
HWT: -/- Mimmo Lytle, 24-15
*Rankings are listed in W.I.N./InterMat
133: No. 2 Zane Richards vs, No. 19 Mack McGuire
- This is a rematch from last year's dual when Richards beat McGuire 7-5. It will be Richards' fourth consecutive match against a ranked opponent. Richards has lost two straight.
157: No. 2 Isaiah Martinez vs. No. 6 Ian Miller
- Martinez leads NCAA Division I in technical falls this season with nine. He is 7-1 against ranked opponents in his young career. Miller is a 2014 All-American and defending MAC champion at 157. He beat Illinois' Zach Brunson by a 15-5 major decision in last season's dual. A win here should lift Martinez closer to Dan Hodge (wrestling's Heisman) Trophy talk.
Where: Huff Hall
Time: 1 p.m. CT
Live Results: Track Wrestling
Live Stream: Illini Access ($)