No. 15 Illini Drop Heartbreaker at No. 7 Iowa

Pin in final bout defeats Illini

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The No. 15 Illinois wrestling team dropped a heartbreaker on Friday night at Carver Hawkeye Arena, as No. 7 Iowa defeated the Illini 18-17 on a pin in the final match. Leading 17-12 entering the heavyweight bout, Iowa’s No. 7 Sam Stoll earned the pin 2:02 into the first period to complete the comeback.

“The guys competed well, won the toss-up [matches] and had great momentum, said coach head Jim Heffernan. “We really competed and had multiple opportunities to win. The guys responded well in a tough environment, hate to leave here on the losing end.”

In a top-15 matchup that saw eight of the ten matches won by decision, Iowa’s three bonus points at heavyweight overcame the two bonus points redshirt senior Isaiah Martinez scored at 165 pounds for the Orange and Blue. Overall, the two teams split the 10 matches with the Illini going on a 9-0 run to start the dual and Iowa countering with a 9-0 run to finish the dual.

Opening up a 9-0 advantage through three matches, the Fighting Illini silenced the Carver Hawkeye Arena crowd early with decisions from sophomore Travis Piotrowski, redshirt freshman Dylan Duncan and redshirt freshman Mike Carr.

Piotrowski got Illinois on the board at 125 pounds with a 6-4 win over Justin Stickley. The Illini sophomore scored first with a takedown midway through the first period to take the early lead, and then took Stickley to the mat once more in the second for the deciding blow. The victory keeps the Illini sophomore undefeated (7-0) on the season.

At 133 pounds, Duncan notched his fifth win of the season with a 6-1 victory over Phillip Laux, a senior wrestle who entered the match ranked by WIN Magazine. Duncan drew first blood with a takedown late in the first period, added a second one to seal the victory, and earned his sixth point on ride time.

Adding to Illinois’ momentum was Mike Carr at 141 pounds, as he stormed out of the gates with a double-leg takedown five seconds into his match against Vince Turk. With Turk still on his heels, Carr continued to rout the Iowa wrestler with two more first-period takedowns to lead 6-2 through the first three minutes. Despite an aggressive second period by Turk that saw him cut Carr’s lead to 6-5, Carr fended off the Hawkeye sophomore with an escape to start the third and held on for the 7-5 win.

The seventh-ranked Hawkeyes bounced back at 149 pounds and 157 pounds with a pair of 4-1 decisions from No. 2 Brandon Sorensen and No. 3 Michael Kemerer. Sorensen notched his takedown in the second period, while Kemerer recorded his lone takedown in the opening minute of the match.

After Iowa’s top-ranked wrestlers drew Iowa within three points of the Illini, the Orange and Blue turned to their top two grapplers to stretch the lead back out to 17-9 with victories from No. 2 Isaiah Martinez and No. 12 Emery Parker.

Martinez collected his third technical fall in as many matches to start his senior season 3-0, defeating Iowa’s Kaleb Young by a score of 23-8. Scoring three takedowns in both the first and second periods, the Illini captain picked up the pace in the third with five more takedowns to finish off the Iowa redshirt freshman.

The win is the 101st of Martinez’s career and moves him into a tie with former Illini Jesse Delgado for 24th place on Illinois’ all-time list. Griff Powell ranks 23rd on the list with 103 victories.

After Iowa 174-pounder Joey Gunther cut the lead to 14-9 with a 6-1 decision over Illini freshman David Riojas, Emery Parker recovered the three points for Illinois with a come-from-behind win against Mitch Bowman.

Trailing 3-2 entering the third period without a takedown in the match, Parker took over the final frame with a dominating two minutes beginning with a mat return to score the go-ahead takedown with 1:40 left on the clock. Needing to ride Bowman for at least a minute to keep the score in his favor, Parker kept Bowman under wraps for the remainder of the period to win 5-3 with riding time.

With the Illini leading by eight points with only two matches to go, the Illini turned to redshirt juniors Andre Lee and Deuce Rachal to close out the upset victory. Unfortunately, a pair of top-10 wrestlers for Iowa proved too much, as they combined for nine team points to steal the dual victory.

Lee’s loss at 197 pounds came in sudden victory, as No. 10 Cash Wilke earned the two points with just eight seconds left in the extra period. It’s the second close loss to a top-10 opponent for Lee this season after dropping a 3-1 decision to Missouri’s No. 3 Willie Milkus to start the season.

The Fighting Illini will have three weeks off following tonight’s dual to prepare for the 55th annual Ken Kraft Midlands tournament at the end of the month. Held December 29-30, the tournament will be held at Sears Center Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. Normally held at Welsh-Ryan Arena, the tournament has been moved this season due to renovations to the Northwestern arena. Tickets for the two-day meet can be purchased here.

Illini Notes:

– Isaiah Martinez picked up career win number 101 on Friday, tying him with former Illini, and two-time NCAA champion, Jesse Delgado for 24th on Illinois’ all-time list. Next on the list for Martinez is Griff Powell (103).
– Travis Piotrowski and Isaiah Martinez continued their undefeated start to the 2017-18 season, as Piotrowski improved to 7-0 and Martinez to 3-0.
– Redshirt freshmen Dylan Duncan and Mike Carr each picked up their first Big Ten dual victories.

#7 Iowa 18, #15 Illinois 17
125: #13 Travis Piotrowski (ILL) dec. Justin Stickley (Iowa), 6-4 ILL 3, Iowa 0
133: #20 Dylan Duncan (ILL) dec. Phillip Laux (Iowa), 6-1 ILL 6, Iowa 0
141: Mike Carr (ILL) dec. Vince Turk (Iowa), 7-5 ILL 9, Iowa 0
149: #2 Brandon Sorensen (Iowa) dec. Eric Barone (ILL), 4-1 ILL 9, Iowa 3
157: #3 Michael Kemerer (Iowa) dec. #17 Kyle Langenderfer (ILL), 4-1 ILL 9, Iowa, 6
165: #2 Isaiah Martinez (ILL) tech fall Kaleb Young (Iowa), 23-8 ILL 14, Iowa 6
174: Joey Gunterh (Iowa) dec. David Riojas (ILL), 6-1 ILL 14, Iowa 9
184: #12 Emery Parker (ILL) dec. Mitch Bowman (Iowa), 5-3. ILL 17, Iowa 9
197: #10 Cash Wilcke (Iowa) dec. Andre Lee (ILL), SV-1 3-1 ILL 17, Iowa 12
HWT: #7 Sam Stoll (Iowa) fall Deuce Rachal (ILL), 2:02 Iowa 18, ILL 17

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

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Written by Mike Bare

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