Illinois looks to continue strong start, face off against Purdue 


Photo Courtesy of Fighting Illini Athletics

Luke Luffman grapples with his opponent during the meet against Purdue on Feb. 16, 2020. Illinois will face off against Purdue again today at Huff Hall.

By Isaac Heppner, Staff Writer

The Illini men’s wrestling team is set to take on the Purdue Boilermakers this Friday at Huff Hall. They will try to remain perfect after they defeated the Wisconsin Badgers and The Ohio State Buckeyes in a tri-meet last weekend. The meet can be streamed on Big Ten Network +.

After defeating the Northwestern Wildcats last weekend in a 28-8 victory, the Boilermakers are 1-0 to start the season. Illinois is 15-2 all-time against Purdue.

The Illini have started the season off strong and performed nicely last weekend as they took down the Wisconsin Badgers 21-9 and the Ohio State Buckeyes 18-15. Illinois will try and move to 4-0 and continue their undefeated season.

According to InterMat, the Illini are currently ranked No. 9, while Purdue is ranked No. 18. Sophomore Luke Luffman of the Illini is currently ranked No. 6 in his weight category.

Luffman worked his way into the top 20 after defeating both of his opponents in last weekend’s tri-meet. With a victory against his opponent on Friday, Luffman will look to make an appearance in the top five ranked wrestlers in the country in his weight class.

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Freshman Danny Pucino is looking to continue his hot start as well. Pucino secured two victories last week against both of his opponents which helped the Illini come out on top last weekend. Pucino tries to remain undefeated on the season, as he has not lost any match.

Sophomore Lucas Byrd has also had a nice start to the season so far. Byrd was very impressed with the way the Illini performed in last week’s tri-meet. He was also unfazed by the dramatic ending against the Badgers.

“I think we performed really well,” Byrd said. “There was a little scare with Wisconsin near the end, but small hiccups always happen in wrestling. It’s just one of those things.”

Matt Wroblewski has also been heavily contributing to the success of the Illini. The redshirt junior defeated his opponent in a sudden takedown in a thrilling overtime against the Wisconsin Badgers last weekend. Wroblewski has yet to be defeated this season.

The Illini will face off against the No. 2-ranked Michigan Wolverines and the No. 1-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes next Sunday in a tri-meet in Iowa City. The meet will begin at 1:00 p.m. central time and will be streamed on Big Ten Network +.