Jered Cortez will transfer from Illinois, but he won't be too far away as he'll stay in the Big Ten to wrestle at Penn State, he announced via Twitter on Thursday.
The former Illinois grappler will forfeit a year of eligibility, and he won't be able to wrestle next season for the Nittany Lions. The 125-133 pounder was slated to take two-time NCAA champion Jesse Delgado's spot in Champaign.
Cortez went 6-2 during his redshirt freshman season with losses to Cory Clark (Iowa) and Caleb Richardson (Penn). The Glendbard North product was a four-time IHSA state champion -- at four different weight classes and one of just 14 wrestlers in state history to win four titles -- and four-time Fargo All-American, including a Cadet Freestyle and Junior Freestyle National champion.
With Jordan Conaway set to graduate next spring, and no blue-chip prospects in the pipeline, it appears to be a perfect fit for Cortez and coach Cael Sanderson's program.
Redshirt senior Dominic Olivieri, who filled in for Delgado at 125 pounds, left the program earlier this summer for Northern Illinois. The Marist product filled wrestled six Big Ten duals and finished sixth at the Roadrunner Open. He went 9-10, including a 3-3 record in Big Ten action.
Zane Richards, a two-time NCAA qualifier, will hold the 133-pound position in the Illini lineup. Richards was ranked as high as the top 5 last season, and drew the No. 5 seed at nationals., but fell went 1-2 in the tournament to finish his season at 24-8.
Cortez is the second wrestler in less than a month to transfer out of head coach Jim Heffernan's program. Nikko Reyes, a two-time national qualifier, announced his transfer to Northern Colorado on July 13. Reyes went 47-26 during two seasons with the Illini.