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 goes down fighting against Navy

Anh-Khoi Pham
Junior Joe Roberts celebrates his victory by decision over Navy opponent Saturday.

Illinois wrestling lost 23-18 on Saturday in a hard-fought battle with the Navy Midshipmen at Huff Hall for its first loss of the season.

The duel was not decided until the second to last match of the afternoon in the 197-pound division between Illinois junior Isiah Pettigrew and Navy’s Cael Crebs.

Down 10-2 after the first period, the lead looked insurmountable for Pettigrew. However, Pettigrew put up a fight.

Even though Pettigrew secured a takedown in the second period, Crebs maintained a big 12-5 lead over Pettigrew going into the third period.  With just about 30 seconds left in the match, Pettigrew secured his second takedown of the period, making the score 14-12 heading into crunch time with the support of a loud Illinois fanbase.

Pettigrew came close to securing a go-ahead takedown with 20 seconds left. Still, Crebs was able to pull himself out of bounds, which gave a point to Pettigrew for stalling, his last point of the match, falling just short in a 14-13 loss.

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Navy led the duel 20-14 heading into this match, and an Illinois victory in this match would have given redshirt junior Luke Luffman a chance to keep his team out of the loss column with a four-point major decision or better. However, Crebs’ victory in this match made the team score 23-14 Navy, putting the duel out of reach for Illinois.

Pettigrew’s determination throughout his match helped give heavyweight Luke Luffman fuel for the final match of the evening against Navy’s Grady Griess.

“He (Pettigrew) went out and fought and fought for the whole match,” Luffman said. “And that’s something we talk about as a team. That’s one of our focuses. Seeing him go out and fight made me want to go out and fight a little harder.”

In the heavyweight showdown between No. 10 Luffman for Illinois and No. 13 Griess for Navy, Luffman scored the first takedown at the 1:45 mark of the first period, and the momentum stayed on Luffman’s side throughout the remainder of the match.

Down 4-1 midway through the second period, Griess nearly tied the match with a takedown, strongly grasping Luffman’s leg with 1:05 left in the period. However, Luffman escaped to prevent the takedown.

In the third period, Griess started on the bottom, where Luffman kept him until 40 seconds into the period to make it 4-2. With one minute left in the match, Luffman countered Griess’ takedown attempt to get his second takedown of the match to make it 7-2.

Adding salt to the wound, Luffman secured one final takedown with one second remaining in the match to make it 10-2, giving Luffman a major decision over Griess. The final score was 11-2, as Luffman gained another point for having over a minute of riding time.

“Luke Luffman is the man, I’m proud of him,” Pucino said. “He’s always an exciting guy, especially at heavyweight. He’s a lot of fun to watch.”

Although Illinois lost the duel, there were still a lot of positives that the team can build off of as the season progresses.

“In every match, there wasn’t a guy that didn’t fight, everyone fought up and down the lineup, and that’s all that matters,” Pucino said. “If you go out and give it your all, that’s most important. You’re going to win matches, and you’re going to lose matches.”

Despite the loss, the team remains confident about future matches and the season overall.

“I’m super happy with how our coaches have been training us and how our coaches have been preparing us,” Pucino said. “They couldn’t have done any better. I’m excited to see where the season goes.”

Illinois has a week off before a home doubleheader on Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. against Central Michigan and then at 4 p.m. against North Carolina at Huff Hall.



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