Wrestling team travel to Midlands, falls short in home opener

By Daniel Dexter

In the past month, the Illinois wrestling team traveled to Evanston, Ill., for the annual Midlands Championships meet. After winning the tournament the previous season, Illinois came in fourth this year with five top-eight finishers.

Reigning national champion Jesse Delgado lost his first match of the season to fourth-seeded Thomas Gilman of the University of Iowa in the semifinals, and he went on to finish third overall in his bracket.

Redshirt sophomore Steven Rodrigues was Illinois’s highest finisher, coming in second place. Despite entering the tournament unseeded, he defeated the Nos. 3, 6 and 7 seeds before losing to No. 1 Mitchell Port by a score of 11-2.

Two weeks later, Illinois hosted its first home dual meet against Ohio State. Delgado redeemed his previous loss with a victory against No. 13 Nick Roberts, and unranked Tony Dallago defeated No. 16 Mark Martin.

Despite the impressive victories, the dual was decided in the heavyweight match when redshirt freshman Chris Lopez was defeated by Nick Tavanello, making the final score 18-16 in favor of Ohio State.

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Head coach Jim Heffernan said he was disappointed with the loss but also noted that injuries are still affecting the lineup.

The Illini will look to bounce back against Michigan on Friday at Huff Hall at 7 p.m.

Daniel can be reached at [email protected] and @ddexter23.