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The War Room Interview of the ILLINI Freshmen

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  • The War Room Interview of the ILLINI Freshmen

    This class of Freshmen wrestlers at the University of ILLINOIS shapes up as one of the best in a very long time. Nine state championships, as well as numerous Fargo and National Folkstyle awards and gold medals, are represented. There would've likely been more without the Covid.

    From the wee folk to the Big Bulldog Bruiser, they are:

    Maximo Renteria, 125lbs, 3x Cali State Champ (and missed out on #4 because of Covid)

    Caden Ernd, 174lbs, ILLINOIS State Champ

    Dylan Connell, 184lbs, 4x ILLINOIS State Champ

    Joey Braunagel, 197lbs, ILLINOIS State Champ

    Besides being great wrestlers (these guys can ride and get off the bottom, too, which is one of the reasons that I hold this class in so much esteem), they are also sharp, funny and authentic. You can judge for yourself:



    Reposted from

  • #2
    Also reposted from is this video:


    The Best ILLINI Career Wins Video You Will Ever See

    This video has been called the pinnacle of Western Civilization, the digital Mona Lisa and other names that would get me thrown off the internet. It has been said that the video is "as slick as a Michael Poeta duckunder, as crafty as a Tirapelle 2-on-1, and as tough as a Jordan Blanton third period."

    The fact that it was me who said those things should not matter.

    What matters is that we have a nice video to watch.

    So, what you have here is a listing of career varsity wins leaders for the ILLINI Wrestling team starting in 1980, with the first gentleman, Kevin Puebla, to crack the 100-wins barrier for the Orange and Blue, and continuing to the present time, all done in the cool internet style.

    Some questions to ponder after the video: How high could Jesse Delgado have climbed without the shoulder injury? Covid seasons may help current ILLINI to crack the list, but it sure didn't help Travis Piotrowski. Duncan is the next closest to the magic 100-win marker. Will he get there during the season? He'd probably need a thirty-win season as 16 of his 81 victories were won as a redshirt.

    Kyle Ott had numerous surgeries on his knees, and yet he managed to fight his way to two NCAA Finals. What if the future doctor had perfect knees? What if he had 11 knee surgeries instead of 12? What if he had zero surgeries instead of 12?

    Emery Parker was close to making the list. Nate Patrick won 97 matches, I think. Who on the current roster has a chance, and who among our new recruits will do it?

    NOTICE: Danny Pucino wrestles sometime shortly after 5:30 am (Eastern) against the Iranian in the U23 Worlds. Set your alarm clocks! EDIT: Looks like Pucino goes tomorrow. I read brackets at a third-grade level.
    Last edited by ChiefIllini1; 4 weeks ago.


    • #3
      Danny Pucino two matches away from his Budapest World debut. Chris Cannon one match away. They're both in the tough, tough bracket. The other side of the bracket has wrestlers from Great Britain, Narnia and Bikini Bottom.

      Pucino has an angry skinny-legged Iranian.


      • #4
        The ILLINI lost 4-2 to the Iranian. He did interesting Pucino things, though, and he scored his takedown off of a wild Pucino scramble, which must be hard to do in freestyle without exposing your back. But he did it. The Iranian has a lot of international experience, so Danny might get pulled back into repechage. Tough draw/great fight.

        GO ILLINI!!!


        • #5

          We've had the MSU Open and the Lindenwood Open to get a chance to know the ILLINI Freshmen, and they look incredible. Dylan Connell made it to the finals of both tournaments. Along the way, he teched just about everybody. He has an unstoppable sweep single and cross-wrist tilt. He's hard to ride and a hard rider. In the finals of the Lindenwood Open, he wrestled a circus freak from Oklahoma State who won all the tournaments in high school. The match went to overtime, where the performer who had escaped from a sideshow managed the takedown.

          Maximo Renteria started off his ILLINI career with a bang at the MSU Open, looking like a serious stud. Unfortunately, something caught up to him in his next match and he had to forfeit out after that. Whatever it was that sidelined him kept him out of the Lindenwood Open as well. Here's to a quick recovery because I would really love to see what he can bring to the Midlands.

          Another wrestler who gave us all a scare was Caden Ernd. He suffered a knee tweak at Lindenwood and eventually MFFed out. I don't know if his eventual sidelining was related to a possible knee issue, or maybe it was something else, or perhaps the coaches just wanted to play it safe. He was really putting on a show up to that point.

          Talk about putting on a show! Joe "Bulldog" Braunagel was exploding like fireworks all day at the Lindenwood Open. He eventually placed, but not before racking up numerous throws and back points -- even a spladle. Haha! It will be very interesting to see how he continues to progress.