Isaiah Martinez is one match away from perfection.
The Illinois redshirt freshman beat James Green (Nebraska), 3-2, in the 157-pound semifinals on Friday night, advancing to Saturday's championship bout.
[MORE: Complete brackets]
Green got a reversal to start the second, but Martinez escaped to cut the deficit to 2-1, heading into the third period. Martinez started on the bottom, and escaped to tie it and fended off a late charge from Green to punch his ticket to the championship bout.
Martinez will wrestle No. 2 Brian Realbuto (Cornell) for the 157-pound title. Realbuto (26-2) advanced to the finals after Dylan Ness (Minnesota) was force to default because of injury in the other semifinal match. Realbuto and Martinez have never wrestled each other before in the collegiate ranks.
Martinez and Realbuto will compete in the final session of the NCAA Championships, which will air live on ESPN at 7 p.m.
Martinez wasn't the only happy Illini after Friday evening. Jackson Morse pinned Mike England (Missouri) in 4:16 to earn his first All-American honor. In his next match, Morse had a workman's like 6-2 decision over Jim Wilson (Stanford) to guarantee at least a sixth-place finish. Morse will wrestle No. 15 Ethan Ramos (UNC) during Saturday's fifth session with a shot at the third-place match. The fifth session will begin at 10 a.m. and will be aired on ESPNU.
Brunson, No. 9, fell to No. 1 Robert Kokesh (Nebraska), 8-0 major decision, to fall short of All-American honors.
The Illini are in 11th place with 42.5 points. Ohio State leads the field with 86.5 points. Iowa (73), Cornell (66.5), Edinboro (64.5) and Missouri (60) round out the top five. Other Big Ten schools in the top 10 include Penn State (58) in sixth, Michigan (51) in eighth and Minnesota and Nebraska tied for ninth with 49 points.