Illini wrestling finish strong to earn second conference win of the season


Kara Landolt

Illinois’ Isaiah Martinez starting off strong against Penn State’s Jason Nolf during the wrestling match vs. Penn State at Huff Hall on Saturday January 23, 2016. The Illini lost 19-1.

By Alex Wallner

Sunday’s win for Illinois wrestling featured a bounce-back win for No. 2-ranked Isaiah Martinez, who, at 157 pounds, lost his first college match just eight days earlier.

The sophomore said ever since the loss, everything has been a little different but his focus has not changed one bit.

“Lately, it’s been a little different,” Martinez said. “I’ve just been trying to stay focused on what’s important, the end goal and winning a national championship more than ever. As for Sunday, I did what I did, went out and attacked, put some points on the board and I got a technical fall.”

Martinez defeated the Badgers’ T.J. Ruschell 16-1, allowing one escape.

Another technical fall had Martinez feeling even more confident — he believes he can score a lot of points against anyone in the country.

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    “I can’t wait to start facing more opponents in the top eight,” Martinez said. “As we get more into the postseason, I’m curious to see if I can do the same to them. I believe I can, for the most part, I believe I can still put up those kind of points. That’s what it’s about, just going out and dominating your opponent.”

    Redshirt freshman picks up first conference win

    Coming off six straight losses, five of which were against Big Ten opponents, redshirt freshman Andre Lee picked up his first conference win against Wisconsin’s Eric Peissing by a 7-3 decision.

    Lee said that his offensive skills make him capable of defeating anyone, but he has a problem of focusing too much on what his opponent is doing.

    “I’m trying to really be conscious of getting to my offense,” Lee said. “During a lot of those matches that I have lost this year, I have been so focused on what my opponent’s going to do, instead of working on what I need to do because I know what I’m capable of what my offense is capable of doing. It all falls on if I’m going to go out there and do it.”

    Illini head coach Jim Heffernan said via press release that Lee will continue to grow with more experience and will be successful because of his offensive ability.

    Rodrigues records tough loss against Jordan

    Entering Sunday, Illinois’ Steven Rodrigues was ranked No. 4 at 165 pounds. He faced No. 3 Isaac Jordan of the Badgers.

    Rodrigues lost 5-2 against Jordan but felt that he let Jordan control the majority of the match.

    The Illini senior said that he feels that he is right up there with some of the best in his class, it’s just all centered around believing in himself and getting to what he does best.

    “I kind of let him control the pace and let him wrestle his match,” Rodrigues said. “I didn’t get to my ties and I let him be a little too comfortable. I know that I’m right there with the best guys. I’ve wrestled No. 2 and No. 3 so far and it’s just about believing in myself.”

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