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Illinois Wrestling: No. 4 Illini cage No. 12 Wisconsin, 20-15, for fourth straight win

Illini win four of last five matches; Jeff Koepke upsets No. 10 Timmy McCall

Illinois' Jeff Koepke, right, grabs a takedown against Wisconsin's No. 10 Timmy McCall on Sunday at Huff Hall.
Illinois' Jeff Koepke, right, grabs a takedown against Wisconsin's No. 10 Timmy McCall on Sunday at Huff Hall.
Courtesy of Illinois Athletics

Illinois is racking up wins but not without some adversity.

The fourth-ranked Illini in W.I.N. Magazine's Tournament Power Index, trailed No. 12 Wisconsin, 12-6, but rallied by winning four the last five bouts for a 20-15 win over the Badgers.

With the Illini trailing 12-6, No. 13 Steven Rodrigues started the comeback with an escape from bottom then a takedown in the second period for a 3-2 win over Jesse Thielke at 141 pounds. Kyle Langenderfer earned a reversal and a near fall when he blocked Rylan Lubeck's inside cradle attempt and rolled him to his back for a 6-2 second period lead. Langenderfer held off Lubeck for a 6-5 win at 149 to tie the dual at 12-12.

Second-ranked Isaiah Martinez put on a show. Martinez his six takedowns in the first period alone then two more in the second before closing with a NCAA-leading ninth technical fall, a 23-6 win over Jarod Donar at 157. With a five-point lead at 165, No. 8 Jackson Morse had a chance to clinch the dual on senior night against No. 3 Isaac Jordan. Morse gave up a takedown in the first two periods, and only mustered an escape as he 5-1.

Morse is now 6-3 in Big Ten competition and 3-4 against ranked opponents this season.

Eighth-ranked Zac Brunson made sure to not let his senior teammates down. The 174-pounder grabbed an early takedown and locked up riding time for a 4-0 win over Frank Cousins to win the dual.

The dual opened with a trilling match at 184, where No. 18 Nikko Reyes scored a third-period reversal to send the match to sudden victory. Reyes got a deep shot in on No. 14 Ricky Robertson but the Badger slipped away and scored a takedown of his own for a 4-2 win, and snap Reyes' three match win streak. Reyes is now 1-9 against ranked opponents this season and 5-4 in Big Ten duals.

A late takedown was the deciding factor in the next bout, only this time the Illini were on the right side of the scorecard.

Down 3-1 to No. 10 Timmy McCall heading into the third, Jeff Koepke escaped and grabbed a takedown in the final minute for a 4-3 upset win to tie the dual at 3-3.

Brooks Black gave a first period takedown to No. 2 Connor Medbery, who poured it on the rest of the way for a 13-0 major decision at heavyweight to regain the Badgers' lead.

Top-ranked Jesse Delgado used his patience against true freshman and four-time IHSA state champion Johnny Jimenez at 125 pounds. Delgado found himself twice nearly on his back, but escaped once and turned a reversal for a 4-0 win. It was Delgado's third win in as many matches since his return from injury.

At 133 pounds, the Huff Hall crowd was shocked with No. 3 Zane Richards falling to No. 7 Ryan Taylor. It wasn't the fact that he lost, but rather how much Taylor controlled the match to the tune of a 23-5 technical fall. It was Richards' second straight loss to a ranked opponent, he fell to No. 11 Danny Sabatello of Purdue one week ago. Taylor was the seventh ranked wrestler Richards has faced this season, Richards is 3-4 against ranked opponents this season.

The Illini (12-4, 6-3 Big Ten) host Kent State next Sunday for the regional round of the NWCA National Duals at 1 p.m. CT.

Meet Results

184: No. 14 Ricky Robertson (WISC) dec. No. 18 Nikko Reyes (ILL), SV1 4-2, 0-3
197: Jeff Koepke (ILL) dec. No. 10 Timmy McCall (WISC), 4-3, 3-3
HWT: No. 2 Connor Medbery (WISC) major dec. Brooks Black (ILL), 13-0, 3-7
125: No. 1 Jesse Delgado (ILL) dec. Johnny Jimenez (WISC), 4-0, 6-7
133: No. 7 Ryan Taylor tech fall No. 2 Zane Richards (ILL), 23-5, 6-12
141: No. 13 Steven Rodrigues (ILL) dec. Jesse Thielke (WISC), 3-2, 9-12
149: Kyle Langenderfer (ILL) dec. Rylan Lubeck (WISC), 6-5, 12-12
157No. 2 Isaiah Martinez (ILL) tech fall Jarod Donar (WISC), 23-6, 17-12
165: No. 3 Isaac Jordan (WISC) dec. No. 8 Jackson Morse (ILL), 5-1, 17-15
174No. 8 Zac Brunson (ILL) dec. Frank Cousins (WISC), 4-0, 20-15

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