The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Illinois wrestling puts on show in victory over SIUE

Eric Chiang
Wrestler Luke Odom flips his opponent in the match against SIUE on Thursday. Odom won with a takedown in the last 25 seconds.

Illinois wrestling opened up its season in dominating fashion on Thursday night against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

The 28-7 victory for Illinois culminated in one of the most exciting matches of the night, with heavyweight redshirt junior Luke Luffman’s major decision win over Bryson Buhk.

Danny Pucino, a redshirt sophomore in the 141-pound division, expressed that Luffman’s match was his favorite match of the night.

“Luke Luffman knows how to get the crowd into it,” Pucino said. “He’s a heavyweight picking dudes up off their feet and putting them on their heads, which is cool.”

The match started slowly, as neither Luffman nor Buhk scored in the first period. However, Luffman scored in the first four seconds of the second with an escape to take a 1-0 lead.

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With just over a minute left in the second period, Luffman secured his first of four takedowns in the match, drawing loud cheers from the crowd. After throwing Buhk to the ground to prevent a near escape with just under 50 seconds left, Luffman closed out the second period with a 4-0 lead.

It was just over one minute left in the match that Buhk was able to score his first point with an escape to make it 4-1.

Most of the scoring and much of the excitement of the match came in the final minute with Luffman securing three quick takedowns. The match ended 15-4 in Luffman’s favor, adding four points to Illinois’ team score.

Although Illinois won its last six matches after SIUE’s Caleb Tyus defeated redshirt sophomore Jake Harrier in the 149-pound division, the outcome of the duel may have been a lot different had it not been for junior Luke Odom’s comeback win in the third period over Bradley Gillum in the 165-pound division.

“Luke Odom’s match was exciting,” Pucino said. “I just think that he’s a lot better wrestler than he showed, and he still did well.”

After entering the third period tied at 3-3, Odom escaped to make it 4-3 just about 30 seconds into the period. However, Gillum answered shortly after with a takedown to go up 6-4 over Odom.

When it seemed like hope was lost for Odom, he escaped with 37 seconds left in the match to make it 6-5, giving Odom the chance to win with a takedown, which he did with only 25 seconds left for an 8-6 win.

A win by Gillum in this match would have made the team score a lot closer at 11-10 Illinois, but instead, this became a turning point in the match with Odom’s victory making the team score 14-7 Illinois.

The match that defined this duel for Illinois was Pucino’s technical fall victory over Danny Martinez in the 141-pound division. It started slowly as Pucino only led 3-1, before securing his second takedown late in the first period to make it 6-1. Pucino scored two more takedowns in the second period, giving him a 12-3 lead heading into the third period. Pucino secured his fifth takedown of the night to make it 16-3, before adding one final takedown late to give him a technical fall with a score of 19-4, adding five points to Illinois’ team total.

“Honestly, I felt like I was going to start rolling at some point,” Pucino said. “I knew in the first period that it would take me a second to get going because it was like a little feeling out process. Thereʼs a lot of nerves to start the year, so I had to get the mojo going.”

Illinois heads into Saturday against Navy on a high note after the 28-7 victory over SIUE. However, the team knows that it can still improve.

“You know, we got a win,” Pucino said. “We got to show what’s up. But, you know, I think we still have more to show. I think we still have more left in the tank as a whole team. So, I think that now that the years getting started, weʼre going to start feeling a lot better as we go.”

Illinoisʼ next match is this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Huff Hall, where it will host Navy.



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