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ILLINI versus CMU and UNC

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    ILLINI Duals with CMU & UNC

    November 15, 2023

    WHAT: Duals with CMU & UNC
    WHERE: Glorious and Historic Huff Hall
    WHEN: Sunday, November 19, 2023
    EXACTLY WHEN: 2:00 pm (Central) for CMU, 4:00 pm (Central) for UNC
    TV/STREAMING: BTN+ (subscription service)
    ON THE CALL: Brian Swaw
    ALL-TIME RECORDS: 1-1 vs. CMU; 5-1 vs. UNC


    Based upon the various team schedules, it appears that the day will start off at Noon (Central) with a dual between CMU and UNC, while the ILLINI get to scout or sleep in.

    Then, the ILLINI will wrestle CMU at 2:00 pm, while UNC gets to rest and scout. CMU can go home after this dual unless they want to defect and request political asylum in ILLINOIS. Finally, UNC and the ILLINI dual at 4:00 pm.


    If you're from Michigan or North Carolina, and you've been taught to read, you can pay $9.95 and watch your team. You might even get a rebate of some portion of that amount if you cancel the next day.

    Here's how to do it (reading will come in handy here): Go to this link. For step one, choose "School Pass." A bunch of school logos will pop up. Click on the big orange "I" for ILLINOIS. Underneath that, click on the $9.95 monthly pass. Pay with a credit or debit card. NOTE: BTN+ will NOT stream the early dual between UNC and Central Michigan. Also, be sure to cancel.


    On that day in 1093, the Battle of Alnwick is fought between England and Scotland. The English kill the Scottish King and his son. (Every page in every English history book has them killing Scots. It's very genocidal.). It was on November 13, 1775 that an American army fighting in the War of Independence first occupied Montreal. Why we didn't keep dibs on Canada is a mystery. The delicious syrup!

    November 13 in 2011 saw Puss in Boots and Immortals clean up at the box office selling a combined $13 million in tickets. We Found Love by Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris topped the Billboard Hot 100. Your stupid little brother had to wait five more days to get his grubby fingers on The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for Wii.

    He was a total goober back then.

    However, the big news on that day—on that glorious November 13 in 2011—was the ILLINI Wrestling team beating four teams at the Wrestle for a Cure duals in Pennsylvania. Among those teams was the Orange and Blue's next opponent, the Tarheels. Here's the official recap from for that and the other three duals. This is the box score from the North Carolina dual:

    Illinois 32, North Carolina 9

    125 - #17 Jesse Delgado (Illinois) over Brian Bokoski (North Carolina) TF 18-2
    133 - #3 B.J. Futrell (Illinois) over Brock Livorio (North Carolina) Pin 0:00
    141 - #18 Evan Henderson (North Carolina) over Tucker Armstrong (Illinois) Pin 0:00
    149 - #10 Eric Terrazas (Illinois) over Jonathan Burns (North Carolina) Dec 9-4
    157 - #18 Corey Mock (North Carolina) over Kyle Dooley (Illinois) Dec 9-5
    165 - Conrad Polz (Illinois) over Kyle Kiss (North Carolina) Maj 12-1
    174 - #3 Jordan Blanton (Illinois) over #18 Thomas Ferguson (North Carolina) Maj 20-6
    184 - Tony Dallago (Illinois) over Alex Utley (North Carolina) Dec 11-8
    197 - #17 Mario Gonzalez (Illinois) over Nick Tenpenny (North Carolina) Dec 9-4
    HWT - Patrick Walker (Illinois) over Frank Abbondanza (North Carolina) Maj 10-2

    NOTE: "No. 3 B.J. Futrell (133), No. 20 Jackson Morse (157), Conrad Polz (165), No. 3 Jordan Blanton (174) and No. 17 Mario Gonzalez (197) each went undefeated in the Illini's four victories."


    They use a mustard-based bbq sauce. It's insane yet worse than it sounds. The finished product looks like what you're accustomed to find in a diaper. May as well throw your $30 brisket slab in a dumpster, Mervin. Also, we live in Myrtle Beach and can smell North Carolina every day. Even when the wind's blowing the other way, that rank foggy odor will fight it's way upstream like a salmon in heat.

    Finally, everybody in North Carolina is related. Every buh dee. Y'all. And I don't mean through vertical lines like a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother, I mean horizontal lines like a brother and a sister and a half-brother and a half-sister. They're all each other's half-brother or half-sister. I totally and completely **** you not.

    The entire state.


    The Tar Heels are 4-1 on the season with two wins against popsicles Queens College and Greensboro College, a 13-24 loss to Oregon State, a win over Buffalo, and finally this 22-16 win over an ASU team missing a couple of their best wrestlers:

    North Carolina 22, No. 13 Arizona State 16

    November 11, 2023 | Liberty High School | Bethlehem, Pa.
    125: No. 32 Spencer Moore (UNC) over Damian Moreno (ASU): 17-2 TF
    133: No. 15 Julian Chlebove (ASU) over No. 22 Caden McCrary (UNC): 5-2 Dec
    141: No. 3 Lachlan McNeil (UNC) over No. 18 Jesse Vasquez (ASU): Inj. Default
    149: No. 3 Kyle Parco (ASU) over Jayden Scott (UNC): 4-1 Dec
    157: Sonny Santiago (UNC) over Michaek Kilic (ASU): 11-3 MD
    165: Chance McClane (ASU) over Isaias Estrada (UNC): 14-3 MD
    174: Max Wilner (ASU) over Sabino Portella (UNC): 4-1 SV Dec
    184: Tony Negron (ASU) over No. 6 Gavin Kane (UNC): 6-4 Dec
    197: No. 18 Max Shaw (UNC) over Jacob Meissner (ASU): 9-1 MD
    285: Cade Lautt (UNC) over Damion Schunke (ASU): 5-1 Dec


    The ILLINI have both Justin Cardani and Caelan Riley listed at 125. Kole Brower and Tony Madrigal are announced at 133, while Danny Pucino mans 141.

    There's two men listed at 149 as well with Jake Harrier and Kannon Webster listed on the "Banzuke." (Japanese for list of Sumo wrestlers expected to wrestle at the next tournament). It is a surprise to see the true Freshman Webster on the list!

    Joe Roberts is at 157 (and in the official UofI promo poster above), while we might get a chance to see true Freshman Chris Moore at 165. He's listed there along with Caden Ernd. Could be more excitement!

    Edmond Ruth and Dylan Connell are at 174 and 184 respectively, then another surprise at 197: Besides Isiah Pettigrew, there's the name Peter Marinopoulos added. Another true Freshman! Finally, stalwart Luuuke Luffman at 285.

    For North Carolina, the only slight deviation from what's written below is that Sonny Santiago is listed as the probable starter at 157.


    Our good friends at are predicting the destruction of the ILLINI at the hands of North Carolina. Their final score is 7-24. We at The ILLINI Wrestling Blog and Forum and Beyond are more sanguine. For example, the very first match at 125 looks pretty good for the Orange and Blue. The final match has North Carolina beating Luuuke Luffman, and, well, we'll need to see that to believe that.

    Still, the Tarheels will be heavily favored in a couple of matches, while the ILLINI are an actual heavy favorite in one, maybe two.

    Over the off-season, Coleman Scott left for Oklahoma State, while Rob Koll jilted Stanford to come down to Chapel Hill. An interesting sidebar is that ILLINI Assistant Coach Austin O'Connor just won a National Championship for the Tarheels and knows their lineup better than anybody. That could prove helpful.

    125. #53 JUSTIN CARDANI versus #27 SPENCER MOORE. The Tarheel has the shinier ranking and is the one-point favorite according to that service. He is 5-0 on the season with a nice 2-0 win over Oregon State's Brandon Kaylor. However, Cardani is now 2-0, and he's looking like a more complete wrestler. has Cardani at #30 while Moore pops in at #32.

    Our favorite here is Cardani, as he'll be wrestling at home, and his neutral has a very good chance of defeating Moore's. The kid from UNC loves to lay on the head and work the 2-on-1. Cardani, like a rancher from Montana, loves the open space. Every indication, though, is that this will most likely be a one-takedown or a riding point-type match.

    Moore was a two-time Kentucky state champ, and he made a world team a couple years back at 55kg. Yet, in the UNC lineup, he started for a year and did not qualify for the NCAA tournament and has a 21-15 overall record against D1 opposition. Against common opponents, Justin is 7-9, while Moore is 2-6. Cardani has the experience and old-man-strength advantage here.

    133. #40 ANTHONY MADRIGAL or #53 KOLE BROWER versus #71 CADEN MCCRARY. calls this a win for Madrigal by five points, while Brower wins it by seven. Is Tony ready to wrestle? We saw him suited up for the last dual, but it was Kole who got the call.

    This four-time state champ from Georgia also won a Super 32 crown, so his rating is very deceiving. In his third year on campus, this is his first year starting for the Tarheels, and he sports an overall 10-6 record against D1 foes. He wrestled up at 141 his first two years, which is too bad, as this dual will be the last of the day, meaning he'll have time to recover.

    Tony Madrigal is ranked at #26 by Intermat, while McCrary is ranked at #22. McCrary is coming off a 2-0 win over the #14 Gabe Wisenhunt of Oregon State, so it will be quite a fight to keep this in the ILLINI win column as predicted.

    141. #44 DANNY PUCINO versus #5 LACHLAN MCNEIL. According to Intermat, McNeil is ranked #3, while Danny drops in at #29. The Tarheel is one of their heavy favorites, as he's also a returning AA (4th) with a 30-10 career record against D1.

    McNeil has three or four really good wins in his time in the lineup, but three of them, Brock Hardy, Dylan D'Emilio and Malyk Hines occurred at last year's Big Dance. He also beat Vince Cornella there, so, sure give him four big wins.

    The ILLINI faithful will be hoping that he gets Pucino'd though, or that Danny's excellent gas tank can wear on him.

    149. #149 JAKE HARRIER versus #57 JADEN SCOTT. Both of these fellows are strongly built, and you can bet that Scott will use his muscles in the ties. He's mostly a straight-forward wrestler, but he does have a slide-by that is pretty good.

    Scott was a New York state champ before coming to UNC last season. During his redshirt year, he beat then-#53 Tommy Curran and the #40 wrestler from Lockhaven. Still, his record against D1 is 13-8.

    He had a surprisingly good outing against three-time AA Kyle Parco of ASU (see dual box score above), losing only 1-4. He's also lost to the #81 wrestler leaving him with a 2-2 record on the season. We expect this'll be a good one, although the Tarheel is the favorite.

    Of course, there's the chance we might see Kannon Webster in the lineup here, but it is more likely that he'll be saved for later in the year.

    157. #120 JOE ROBERTS versus #40 DANNY NINI. We have no idea how Danny Nini is rated the fortieth best D1 wrestler at this weight. He has a 7-8 career mark, and is 1-1 this season with an SV loss to the #114 wrestler and an SV win over the #131 guy.

    It might be that a couple of excellent matches last year are still skewing the algorithm. While up a weight at 157 against PSU's Levi Haines, he lost a close match (1-4); then there was his surprising 5-1 win over #25 Johnny Lovett of Central Michigan.

    As you can see in the box score above, it was #71 Sonny Santiago who wrestled for the Tarheels and beat ASU's #148 guy at 157.

    In any event, we are calling for the Upset Special of the Week here as the *New* and *Improved* Joe Roberts has looked real good in fashioning his 2-0 record on the year so far.

    165. #81 LUKE ODOM or #118 CADEN ERND vs. #108 ISAIAS ESTRADA. is predicting a 12-5 win for Estrada even though he is much lower-rated on its program. It's still UNC winning if Caden Ernd is slotted into the algorithm.

    The Tarheel is in his first year starting for North Carolina and sports a 1-2 record with a win over the #283 wrestler and losses to #106 by five and by major to #72.

    Estrada is a two-time Colorado state champ and has a 13-9 overall record in college. This is a match the ILLINI will likely need to take the dual, and it is a match either Odom or Ernd should win. If it is Odom, he'll have to bounce back from a bad outting against Navy. We haven't seen either Ernd or Chris Moore (the true Freshman) on the season so far.

    174. #11 EDMOND RUTH versus #187 SABINO PORTELLA. This is the one match in which the ILLINI are heavily favored. Portella is a true freshman, one-time state finalist from New Jersey and Fargo AA, with a 2-3 mark in college so far.

    His two wins were against popsicles, one of them being the #230 from D1 Queens, and the other being non-D1. He's an outstanding athlete with all-state marks as a running back in football, and the Tarheel did keep it to a 0-5 loss against the highly regarded Travis Wittlake of Oregon State. Still, this is borderline bonus points for Ruthless.

    Note that Tyler Eischens, a transfer from Stanford and a U23 Greco world team member is on the roster, but he won't be available until the second semester. (Ruthless would still be heavily favored against him.). Also note that Edmond Ruth is now up to #5 in the Intermat rankings.

    184. #34 DYLAN CONNELL versus #18 GAVIN KANE. We've heard a lot about this Gavin Kane fellow but not seen him wrestle. So, we watched some of his matches.

    The one-time AA (8th last year) and two-time NCAA qualifier is a true meat and potatoes wrestler. He likes the collar tie and to lean into an opponent. He's built well and not too tall. He does have a trick left knee, even though it is likely to be well covered with tights and knee pads and such. He favors straight-on singles and high crotches.

    Kane was a four-time Georgia state champ and two-time Super 32 finalist. He has a 46-17 collegiate record. Still, is calling this a one-point win for the Tarheel.

    This would be a huge win for Dylan, who we hope stays aggressive after his match with Navy. That will pay dividends! Kane is #11 at Intermat, while Connell checks in at #25.

    197. #97 ISIAH PETTIGREW versus #31 MAX SHAW. One of the most interesting wrestlers on the team is Pettigrew, who's filling in for Olympic-redshirt Zac Braunagel. His first time out, Isiah beat a good college wrestler in Ryan Yarnell from SIUE. Last time out, he nearly came back to win after being down 10-1 in the first period.

    Max Shaw is way up at #20 at Intermat with his 4-0 mark on the season. This is his fifth season wearing the baby blue of North Carolina. He's qualified for the NCAAs twice while accumulating a 50-34 record.

    Shaw has won one match in each of the two NCAA tournaments he's been involved in. This is a match in which UNC will be heavily favored, but this guy Pettigrew, well, he might surprise. Shaw is really quick and wiry--kind of like Pettigrew--so it should be a fun match. This won't be your usual 197 pound snoozefest.

    285. #15 LUKE LUFFMAN versus #38 CADE LAUTT. For some reason has Lautt winning this match. The folks over to Intermat, on the other hand, have it right with Luffman ranked up at #8, while Lautt is unranked.

    The Tar Heel was a one-time Kansas state champ and four-time placer, also bringing home some placements from Fargo on two occasions. His biggest accomplishment to date was finishing 7th at the Senior US Open in Greco at 97 kg. Of course, Luke Luffman finished 4th at 130 kg.

    Lautt will no doubt have a quickness advantage, but it won't be that much, and any advantage he might have had with his Greco skills against most heavyweights turns into a disadvantage against LUUUUKE.

    Although Lautt is 2-0 on the year, he's wrestled popsicles, and his last match last season was a 3-10 loss to Andy Smith of Virgina Tech at 197. That's the same Andy Smith who Zac Braunagel would go on to pin in the NCAA tournament a couple weeks later. So, despite favoring Lautt here, we have to think that Luffman is a heavy favorite,


    Just before the North Carolina dual, the ILLINI will take on CMU at 2:00 pm (Central). We won't provide a look at the individual matchups because is predicting a comfortable 19-12 win for the ILLINI, and it could turn out worse than that for the Chippewas.

    CMU has outstanding wrestlers at the middle weights--from 149 to 174--but everywhere else, from the skinnies to the fatties, they kind of suck. Even at those middle weights, the Chippewas will only be favorites from 149 to 165. At 174, Edmond Ruth beat their #22-rated wrestler 10-4 last season.

    The highly-ranked wrestlers for CMU include a very tough two-time qualifier #25 Corbyn Munson at 149 (#13 on Intermat), the three-time qualifier #15 Johnny Lovett at 157 (also #15 on Intermat), and the four-year starter #43 Tracy Hubbard at 165 (#33 on Intermat).

    Each of those three will be favorites, while the ILLINI are very heavy to slight favorites at the other seven weights. Additionally, the ILLINI are much more likely to score bonus points in their matches.

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  • #2
    I copied and pasted the whole article from The ILLINI Wrestling Blog & Forum & Beyond. Unfortunately, I made a couple of mistakes: (1) as you can see at the bottom of the post, there was a lot more copied than I intended, and (2) none of the pictures made it into this story. Sorry. They did appear in the draft, so I thought they'd be here in the finished product. In any event, here's one of them, the ILLINI promotional poster for the meet, which I think is very cool and very well done: