Jesse Delgado opened the dual with a win, and his teammates followed suit as Illinois shutout Kent State 38-0 in the regional round of the NWCA National Duals on Sunday at Huff Hall.
The Illini (13-4), fifth-ranked in W.I.N. Magazine's Tournament Power Index, advance the National Duals Finals in Iowa City next weekend. The Illini will face either No. 2 Missouri or No. 5 Ohio State. Coach Jim Heffernan's team is 0-2 against teams ranked in the top-five.
It was the Illini's fifth straight dual victory and third over the Golden Flashes, which includes back-to-back victories in the NWCA National Duals Tournament.
Following Delgado's 3-0 victory over Del Vinas, No. 7 Zane Richards scored 14 points in the second period to snap his two-match losing streak with a dominating 23-7 technical fall against Kyle Lukowich.
The Illini strung together narrow victories at 141 pounds by No. 13 Steven Rodrigues, 6-4, and Kyle Langenderfer, 4-3 at 149 pounds.
The 157-pound bout saw No. 2 Isaiah Martinez control No. 6 Ian Miller for most of the match before recording the pin fall at 6:35. Miller tried to throw Martinez near the out of bounds line but the Illini grappler countered and stuck him for his fourth pin of the season. Martinez has now won 33 consecutive matches, including 26 this season.
The Illini trio of ranked wrestlers from 165 to 184 all recording wins by decisions. Eighth-ranked Jackson Morse pulled away for a 9-4 win over Tyler Buckwalter before No. 7 Brunson edged out Caleb Marsh for a 3-2 victory. The final ranked Illini wrestler, No. 19 Reyes took a 6-3 win over Jerald Spohn.
The 197-pounder Jeff Koepke built off his upset win last weekend against Wisconsin with a fall at 4:30 over Kent State's Stephen Suglio. Heavyweight Brooks Black controlled Mimmo Lytle for a 5-0 shutout victory of his own.
The last time the Illini earned a shutout was Nov. 9 when they defeated Souther Illinois at Edwardsville 44-0.
125: No. 1 Jesse Delgado (ILL) dec. Del Vinas (KSU), 3-0, 3-0
133: No. 7 Zane Richards (ILL) tech fall Kyle Lukowich (KSU), 4:57, 8-0
141: No. 13 Steven Rodrigues (ILL) dec. Tyler Small (KSU), 6-4, 11-0
149: Kyle Langenderfer (ILL) dec. Kyle Bauer (KSU), 4-3, 14-0
157: No. 2 Isaiah Martinez (ILL) pin No. 6 Ian Miller (KSU), 6:35, 20-0
165: No. 8 Jackson Morse (ILL) dec. Tyler Buckwalter (KSU), 9-4, 23-0
174: No. 7 Zac Brunson (ILL) dec. Caleb Marsh (KSU), 3-2, 26-0
184: No. 19 Nikko Reyes (ILL) dec. Jerald Spohn (KSU), 6-3, 29-0
197: Jeff Koepke (ILL) pin Stephen Suglio (KSU), 4:30, 35-0
HWT: Brooks Black (ILL) dec. Mimmo Lytle (KSU), 5-0, 38-0