No. 11 Illinois falls to No. 4 Ohio State, 29-18

By University of Illinois Athletics

COLUMBUS, OH – The Fighting Illini wrestling team scored bonus points in each of their four victories against No. 4 Ohio State, but fell to the Buckeyes by a score of 29-18. A 14-0 run by from Kyle Langenderfer and Isaiah Martinez and by Zac Brunson gave the Orange and Blue an 18-13 lead through seven matches, but Ohio State won the final three bouts, including two by pins, to defeat the Illini. Illinois falls to 1-2 in the Big Ten, while Ohio State improves to 3-0.

“As a group we competed hard, but just gave up too many bonus points,” said Head Coach Jim Heffernan. “We weren’t ready to fight from the start at a couple weights.”

The Illini jumped out to an early 4-0 lead when true freshman Travis Piotrowski (10-7) shutout No. 12 Jose Rodriguez, 10-0 to open the match.

After a scoreless opening period, Piotrowski started the second period on bottom and opened the scoring with an escape. Still in the first minute of period two, the Crystal Lake native got deep on Rodriguez and scored a takedown to make it 3-0, followed by four back points to pad the lead. Piotrowski added a second takedown in the final period to secure the major decision.

“Travis was great starting the match,” Heffernan said. “Lots of energy and did a good job getting bonus points as well.”

The upset of Rodriguez marks Piotrowski’s second win over a ranked opponent this season. His first victory over a ranked opponent came at Midlands when he defeated No. 18 L.J. Bentley, 7-2, in the second round.

Following the Piotrowski’s victory, the fourth-ranked Buckeyes responded with a 13-0 run over the following three weight classes, beginning with the much anticipated match between No. 4 Zane Richards and No. 2 Nathan Tomasello.

However, Tomasello controlled the match from start to finish, as the Ohio State wrestle notched three early takedowns to lead Richards, 7-2, after the first three minutes. Tomasello added one takedown in the second period, and then another in the final period to earn the bonus point, tying the match 4-4.

At 141 pounds, Mousa Jodeh gave up two takedowns to No. 14 Luke Pletcher in the opening three minutes, and then two more across the remaining two periods, losing by a 10-4 decision.

Ohio State finished off the run at 149 pounds with a pin from No. 5 Micah Jordan over Eric Barone with 39 seconds remaining in the bout. In the opening period Barone fought off multiple shots by Jordan to keep the opening period scoreless, but Jordan scored six back points in the second period before getting the fall in period three.

Trailing 13-4 in the team score, the 14th-ranked Illini responded with a 14-0 run of their own, as Kyle Langenderfer, No. 1 Isaiah Martinez and No. 12 Zac Brunson each earned bonus points in their victories.

Continuing his aggressive wrestling from last weekend, Langenderfer (14-4) opened up an early 6-2 lead over Ohio State’s Jake Ryan in the opening three minutes with three takedowns. After notching his fourth takedown to make it 8-3 early in the second period, the Illini redshirt junior used four back points to close the period, and then added four more in period three to win by technical fall, 18-3.

“Kyle [Langenderfer] hustled from the start and has looked much better the last couple of weeks,” Heffernan said of the 157-pounder. “He’s competing and training with some fire, and has been much more disciplined.”

Langenderfer’s two four-point near falls is the most by an Illini in a dual match this season.

Following the intermission, top-ranked Martinez regained the lead for the Illini with a dominating 22-7 technical fall of Cody Burcher. Merely cutting Burcher loose to get back to his offense, Martinez racked up nine takedowns, along with a reversal to start the third period, to clinch the five team points with 23 seconds left in the match.

The technical fall marks Martinez’s sixth on the season, which leads the team.

Leading Ohio State for the first time since after the 125-pound bout, the Orange and Blue extended their lead to 18-13 with a 19-8 major decision by Zac Brunson against Justin Kresevic. Like Langenderfer and Martinez, Brunson wore out the Buckeye grappler, cutting Kresevic loose just to take him down again. Brunson’s nine takedowns are the most the Illini senior has tallied in a dual match this season.

Despite holding a five-point advantage through seven matches, the Fighting Illini were unable to overcome Ohio State’s top wrestlers at the heavier weights, giving up a major decision and two pins in the final three bouts.

Ohio State closed the gap to 18-17 when No. 10 Myles Martin defeated Emery Parker (18-4) by major decision, 11-3, at 184 pounds. Martin, the 174-pound NCAA champion as a true freshman last season, gained control of Parker midway through the first period with a takedown and four back points. After Martin added another takedown in period two, Parker fought back with his lone takedown of the match in the final period, but was unable to deny Martin the bonus point.

Turning to No. 5 Kollin Moore (197 pounds) and Olympic gold medalist Kyle Snyder (HWT), the Ohio State Buckeyes finished off the match with back-to-back pins of Andre Lee (4:46) and Deuce Rachal (4:17) to win the dual.

Up next, the Fighting Illini will return home to host their first two dual matches of the season, as the Illini host No. 13 Michigan at 7 p.m. on Friday, January 20 and Northern Illinois at 1 p.m. on Sunday, January 22. Illinois will host the Great Escape as part of the Michigan dual, with a youth clinic held prior to the match and the first 500 fans receiving a foam finger.

Illini Notes:
The Illini fall to 37-34-1 all-time against Ohio State, dropping each of the last four duals
Nine of the ten matches were won with bonus, four by Illinoi and five by Ohio State
Travis Piotrowski won his second match against a ranked opponent. His first came at Midlands when he defeated L.J. Bentley of Pittsburgh, 7-2
Isaiah Martinez won his sixth match by technical fall, which leads the Illini
Zac Brunson earned win number 20 on the season, two shy of his total from last season. His career high is 29 wins in 2014-15.
Brunson and Martinez both scored nine takedowns, tying for second most by an Illini in a dual match this season. Zane Richards leads the team with his 10 takedowns against Alex Vargas (Maryland).
Brunson’s victory was also the 95th of his career, placing him one win by Zane Richards and Nate Patrick on the all-time wins list.
Langenderfer’s two four-point near falls is the most by an Illini in a dual match this season. The Illini junior now holds the team lead with four four-point near falls during dual meets this season.

No. 4 Ohio State 29, No. 14 Illinois 18
125: Travis Piotrowski (ILL) won by major decision over No. 12 Jose Rodriguez (OSU), 10-0 | ILL 4, OSU 0
133: No. 2 Nathan Tomasello (OSU) won by major decision over No. 4 Zane Richards (ILL), 12-4 | ILL 4, OSU 4
141: No. 14 Luke Pletcher (OSU) won by decision over Mousa Jodeh (ILL), 10-4 | ILL 4, OSU 7
149: No. 5 Micah Jordan (OSU) won by fall over Eric Barone (ILL), 6:19 | ILL 4, OSU 13
157: Kyle Langenderfer (ILL) wins by technical fall over Anthony DeCarlo (OSU), 18-3 | ILL 9, OSU 13
165: No. 1 Isaiah Martinez (ILL) won by technical fall over Cody Burcher (OSU), 22-7 | ILL 14, OSU 13
174: No. 12 Zac Brunson (ILL) won by major decision over Justin Kresevic (OSU), 18-8 | ILL 18, OSU 13
184: No. 10 Myles Martin (OSU) won by major decision over No. 13 Emery Parker (ILL), 11-3 | ILL 18, OSU 17
197: No. 5 Kollin Moore (OSU) won by fall over Andre Lee (ILL), 4:46 | ILL 18, OSU 23
HWT: No. 1 Kyle Snyder won by fall over Deuce Rachal (ILL), 4:17 | ILL 18, OSU 29

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Written by Mike Bare

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