No. 17 Illinois Drops Tight Battle on Criteria at No. 14 Wisconsin, 17-16

Wisconsin outscores Illinois, 68-66, in total match points for tiebreaker criteria point

By University of Illinois Athletics

MADISON, Wis. – No. 17 Illinois wrestling dropped a heartbreaking, 17-16, dual at No. 14 Wisconsin on Sunday. The match was decided by total match points tiebreaker criteria, with the score being tied at 16 after the final bout. Wisconsin held the advantage, 68-66, in total match points and were awarded the tiebreaker point to win the dual.

“We had many chances to win, but did not go the extra mile,” said head coach Jim Heffernan. “Didn’t have enough fight, and didn’t score enough points when we had chances. Very hard loss to take, but it is our fault for not being more aggressive and scoring more points.”

The Illini and Badgers exchanged wins every other match through the first seven bouts of the afternoon. Junior Travis Piotrowski gave the Illini the initial 3-0 lead after winning his bout against Ethan Rotondo to start the dual. Piotrowski was strong early on in the match, wrestling his way to a takedown and a four point nearfall to take a 6-0 lead in the first period. He escaped and recorded another takedown in the second to push his lead to 9-2 heading into the final period. Piotrowski recorded his third takedown of the match in the final period, and went on to win the match against Rotondo in a 12-6 decision. Piotrowski is now 15-7 on the season and 5-2 in Big Ten duals.

After the Badgers tied the score at three, the Illini looked to No. 4 Mike Carr to put the Orange and Blue back in front. He would take on No. 8 Tristan Moran in his the 141-pound matchup. The bout was tightly contested between the the top-10 wrestlers. Moran took a 1-0 lead in the second period with an escape, but Carr would respond with an escape of his own early in the third to tie the match at one. A stalling call against Moran in the third period would be the difference, and Carr would go on to win a 2-1 decision over Moran. Carr is now 7-0 in Big Ten duals and 11-2 overall. He has now won three matches this season in Big Ten duals against FloWrestling top-10 nationally-ranked opponents.

After the Badgers took the 149-pound bout to even the dual score again, No. 9 Eric Barone would challenge Garrett Model in what would be a high-scoring affair. Barone was strong in the first period, tallying three takedowns in the opening frame to take a 6-2 lead into the second. He added on two more takedowns in the second to take a 10-5 lead into the final period. Barone would hold off a late effort from Model in the third period and win a 15-13 decision. Barone is now 16-10 on the season.

Redshirt junior Carver James gave the Illini a key win in the 174-pound matchup against Anders Lantz. James secured the early lead with a first period takedown to take a 2-0 lead into the second period. He would add two more takedowns in the second to extend his lead to 6-2 heading into the third period. James added two more takedowns in the final period to bring his final total in the bout to five, and would close out a 12-3 major decision victory over Lantz to put the Illini in front, 13-9. The result was the first non-decision of the day. James earned his first Big Ten victory of his career with the win, and his record now stands at 12-10 for the 2018-19 season.

Redshirt senior No. 5 Emery Parker bounced back Sunday afternoon with a 10-4 decision over Mason Reinhardt. Parker was in control from the outset, using two first period takedowns to take a 4-1 lead into the second period. After an escape in the second put Parker ahead 5-1 going into the final period, he would build on his lead by recording two more takedowns in the third. He would get the point for riding time and win the match at 184-pounds over Reinhardt, 10-4. Parker moves to 12-2 on the season and 5-2 in Big Ten duals. The back-to-back wins by James and Parker put the Illini in front 16-9 with two matches to go.

The Illini would drop the next two bouts, with Andre Lee losing a narrow 4-2 decision to Beau Breske in Sudden Victory-2 of the 197-pound match, and No. 7 Trent Hillger defeating Deuce Rachal by major decision, 16-5, in the afternoon’s final matchup. With the dual score tied at 16-16, the match was determined by total match points tiebreaker criteria. Wisconsin held a 68-66 advantage over Illinois in total match points and would be awarded the tiebreaker point, giving the Badgers the dual over Illinois, 17-16.

Up next, the Illini will travel for a dual at No. 9 Northwestern on Friday, February 15, at 7 p.m. Illinois then heads home for Senior Day and the last home dual of the season on Sunday, February 17, at 1 p.m vs. No. 1 Penn State. Both Duals can be streamed on BTN2Go.

Full Results:

125: #11 Travis Piotrowski (ILL) dec. Ethan Rotondo (WIS), 12-6: ILL 3, WIS 0
133: Jens Lantz (WIS) dec. Dylan Duncan (ILL), 5-4: ILL 3, WIS 3
141: #4 Mike Carr (ILL) dec. #8 Tristan Moran (WIS), 2-1: ILL 6, WIS 3
149: #11 Cole Martin (WIS) dec. Christian Kanzler (ILL), 7-1: ILL 6, WIS 6
157: #9 Eric Barone (ILL) dec. Garrett Model (WIS), 15-13: ILL 9, WIS 6
165: #3 Evan Wick (WIS) dec. #18 Joey Gunther (ILL), 9-3: ILL 9, WIS 9
174: Carver James (ILL) major dec. Anders Lantz (WIS), 12-3: ILL 13, WIS 9
184: #5 Emery Parker (ILL) dec. Mason Reinhardt (WIS), 10-4: ILL 16, ILL 9
197: Beau Breske (WIS) SV-2 Andre Lee (ILL), 4-2: ILL 16, WIS 12
285: #7 Trent Hillger (WIS) major dec. Deuce Rachal (ILL), 16-5: WIS 16, ILL 16

FINAL: Wisconsin 17, Illinois 16 by total match points tiebreaker criteria (WIS 68, ILL 66)

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Written by Mike Bare

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