Emery Parker Completes Comeback, Places Third

NCAA Championships Coverage

Parker wins seven straight matches after first round defeat

By University of Illinois Athletics

CLEVELAND, OH – Illinois redshirt junior 184-pounder Emery Parker (28-4) ran the gauntlet in the consolation bracket, winning seven straight matches, four versus higher seeded wrestlers, to take third place after losing his opening match of NCAA Championships.

“You never really know what’s going to go right and what’s going to go wrong,” said the Illini All-American. “That first match didn’t go how I wanted it to; I think the nerves got to me a little more than I would have liked. I think I had the pressure of having to win over an unseeded guy. But, after that, I got into wrestlebacks and it was just another match. The pressure was off, just time to wrestle.”

The No. 10 seed at the weight, Parker earned his first All-America honor on Thursday evening, and then won two matches on Saturday afternoon to finish off the comeback. Out of Warren Township High School in Wadsworth, Illinois, Parker is the only All-American this season that hails from the state of Illinois.

“I’ve watched him all year do the things he’s was doing well [in the consolation matches] and the biggest thing is pushing him and making him, forcing him into his offense,” said head coach Jim Heffernan. “If he’s not standing around, he’s awfully tough to be. He’s a great athlete, he’s explosive, he’s quick, he’s really intelligent and he’s really understanding wrestling better and better by the match.”

In the third-place bout, Parker won the rubber match against the No. 7 seed from Nebraska, Taylor Venz. Defeating the Husker by a count of 8-1. After winning the regular season meeting in Champaign and dropping the rematch at Big Ten Championships, Parker scored a takedown and two points for near fall in the first period to spur the victory.

Parker reached the bronze medal match by upsetting his third higher seeded wrestler of the tournament in No. 5 Domenic Abounader of Michigan. Parker scored first with a takedown in the opening minute of the match, and then extended the lead to 3-1in the second frame following a penalty point for an illegal head scissor by Abounader. An escape to start the third period stretched the lead to 4-1, but Abounader responded with two takedowns to tie the match with 25 seconds remaining. Parker scored the winning point with an escape 14 seconds later, getting out with 11 seconds left in regulation.

After winning three straight matches to reach the blood round on Thursday night, Parker defeated Lehigh’s No. 3 seed Ryan Preisch, and then avenged his first-round loss by defeating Chip Ness of North Carolina to reach the consolation semifinals.

Only qualifying for the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) State Championships once, a runner-up finish as a senior in 2014, while at Warren Township, Parker has tallied 58 wins in his first two years as a starter for the Orange and Blue. After winning 30 matches as a redshirt sophomore last season, and coming one win shy of All-America honors, Parker finishes 2018 with the team lead in wins (28) and placed at Big Ten Championships for the second straight season.

“I really liked what I saw, still pretty raw still,” coach Heffernan said of Parker in high school. “He didn’t have a lot of wrestling experience, especially at a higher level. But, when he got in our room, you could just see the improvement weekly when he was younger, and now it’s almost daily: he asks questions, he gets better, he’s competitive, he’s a great student and he just understands it. He’s got a lot of drive whether it’s academics or athletically.”

Combined with Martinez’s fourth All-America honor, Parker and Martinez make it four straight seasons, and seven of the last eight, with multiple All-Americans. The Illini had three All-Americans in 2013, 2016 and 2017.

Illinois wrestling concludes the 2018 season on Saturday night as redshirt senior Isaiah Martinez seeks his third NCAA title in his final match as an Illini. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. central time on ESPN2 with the 165-pound title bout due up sixth in the finals.

For complete coverage of Fighting Illini wrestling, go to FIGHTINILLINI.com and follow @IlliniWrestling on Twitter and Instagram.

Illini NCAA Championships Notes:

Emery Parker placed third at 184 pounds behind seven straight wins following an opening round loss
Parker is Illinois’ first All-American at 184 pounds since John Dergo took 5th in 2010, and is tied for the highest finish at 184 pounds by an Illini with Brian Glynn (2005) and Pete Friedl (2006)
Parker is the only 2018 All-American to hail from the state of Illinois
Parker collected his first All-America honor with a 3-1 upset of No. 3 seed Ryan Preisch of Lehigh.
Parker defeated six ranked wrestlers in his run at NCAA Championships, including four higher seeds.
Parker finishes his redshirt junior season with a record of 28-4. Parker has tallied 58 wins in his first two years as a starter for head coach Jim Heffernan.
With two All-Americans, the Illini clinched their fourth straight season with multiple All-Americans and seven of the last eight.

Illinois Match-By-Match Results:

125 // Travis Piotrowski // 2-2
1st Round: (6) #7 Nicholas Piccininni (Oklahoma State) def. Piotrowski by fall, 1:47
Cons. Round 1: Piotrowski def. Gage Curry (American), 9-1
Cons. Round 2: Piotrowski def. (5) #5 Sean Fausz (NC State), 8-1
Cons. Round 3: (13) #11 Zeke Moisey (West Virginia) def. Piotrowski, 5-0
Travis Piotrowski is eliminated

133 // #19 Dylan Duncan // 0-2
1st Round: (4) #4 Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State) def. Duncan, 7-4
Cons. Round 1: Colin Valdiviez (Northwestern) def. Duncan, 7-5
Dylan Duncan is eliminated

141 // (11) #7 Mike Carr // 3-1
1st Round: (11) Carr def. Henry Pohlmeyer (South Dakota State), 8-1
2nd Round: (6) #5 Dean Heil (Oklahoma State) def. (11) Carr, 6-2
Cons. Round 2: (11) Carr def. Brent Moore (Virginia Tech), 8-5
Cons. Round 3: (11) Carr def. (14) #19 Nicholas Gil (Navy), 5-4
Cons. Round 4: Sa’Derian Perry (Eastern Michigan) def. (11) Carr, 8-6
Mike Carr is eliminated

165 // (1) #1 Isaiah Martinez // 4-0
1st Round: (1) Martinez def. Zachary Carson (Eastern Michigan) by fall, 4:21
2nd Round: (1) Martinez def. (16) #17 Jonathan Chavez (Cornell), 10-5
Quarterfinals: (1) Martinez def. (9) #5 Chance Marsteller (Lock Haven), 10-1
Semifinals: vs. (1) Martinez def. (5) #7 Alex Marinelli (Iowa), 5-2
Finals: vs. (3) #3 Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State)

184 // (10) #8 Emery Parker // 7-1
1st Round: #18 Chip Ness (North Carolina) def. (10 #8 Parker, 4-3
Cons. Round 1: (10) #8 Parker def. Chaz Polson (Wyoming), 17-3
Cons. Round 2: (10) #8 Parker def. (8) #10 Drew Foster (Northern Iowa), 13-10
Cons. Round 3: (10) Parker def. (16) #17 Jordan Ellingwood (Central Michigan), 17-6
Cons. Round 4: (10) Parker def. (3) #3 Ryan Preisch (Lehigh), 3-1
Cons. Round 5: (10) Parker def. #18 Chip Ness (North Carolina), 7-5
Cons. Semifinal: (10) Parker def. (5) #4 Domenic Abounader (Michigan), 6-5
3rd Place Match: (10) Parker def. (7) #7 Taylor Venz (Nebraska), 8-1
Emery Parker places 3rd

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Written by Mike Bare

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