Illini compete in a tri-meet against Wisconsin, Ohio State in home-opener

Sophomore+Justin+Cardani+grapples+with+his+opponent+during+the+wrestling+meet+against+Purdue+on+Feb.+16%2C+2020.

Ryan Ash

Sophomore Justin Cardani grapples with his opponent during the wrestling meet against Purdue on Feb. 16, 2020.

By Isaac Heppner, Staff Writer

The Illini men’s wrestling team is set to compete against the Wisconsin Badgers and The Ohio State Buckeyes this Sunday in a tri-meet. This is the season opener for the Illini as they look to continue their strong start after defeating the Indiana Hoosiers last weekend. The meet will be streamed on Big Ten Network +.

This will be the season opener for both the Buckeyes and the Badgers as they face off against the 1-0 Illini. Illinois is 41-28-3 all-time against Wisconsin and 37-36-1 all-time against Ohio State.

The Illini defeated the Indiana Hoosiers last weekend in a 39-3 dominating win. Last weekend, the Illini had three first-year athletes in the starting lineup. This weekend, they will do the same.  The Illini will be competing at the State Farm Center for the first time since 2013.

First-year starter Johnny Mologousis earned a big victory for the Illini with a 10-0 shutout against Indiana’s Jonathan Kervin. He will remain in the starting lineup this Sunday.

The Illini are ranked among various ranking websites including InterMat, where the Illini are ranked No. 22. They will look to increase their ranking this weekend with wins against one or both of these teams. Six wrestlers are ranked in the top 25 as well.

Of those ranked athletes, No. 8 ranked Danny Braunagel and No. 10 ranked Zac Braunagel hope for big seasons. After having the end of their 2020 season canceled, these brothers want to continue working after both earning NWCA Honorable Mention All-American honors.

“My game plan is just to keep scoring and finding different ways to put points on the board,” Danny said. “If I can keep doing that, I will be satisfied with the way I played personally.”

In his first match of the season, sophomore Justin Cardani secured a big victory against No. 13 ranked Brock Hudkins of Indiana. Cardani took down Hudkins with seconds left to go up 3-1 and lead him to win by decision.

The return of Mike Carr has heavily benefited the Illini. After missing all of last season due to injury, he returned against Indiana and earned a major decision victory. The No. 7 ranked senior is expected to have a big season this year.

Next up for the Illini is the Purdue Boilermakers. They will face off on Jan. 22 in Champaign.

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