Illini wrestling sweeps second dual meet of the season at Illini Duals

By Alex Wallner

The No. 11-ranked Illinois wrestling team hosted its Illini Duals against Arizona State and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Sunday at Huff HallJT.

The Illini came away with two winsJT, improving their record to 5-0 on the season. Illinois dropped just three matches for the entire meet — two to Arizona State and one to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

The Illini won 27-9 in its meet against the Sun DevilsJT. Freshman Francis Edelen suffered the lone loss for the Illini, losing 8-6 to Arizona State’s Ares CarpioJT.

Illinois then took the next two matches: No. 6 Zane Richards defeated Arizona State’s Cord Coronado, 22-6JT and sophomore Brock Ervin followed up with a 10-5 victory over Robbie MathersJT.

Head coach Jim Heffernan applauded Ervin’s performance, along with redshirt senior Steven RodriguesJT, who both won their respective matches.

“They did, both of them were really offensive,” Heffernan said. “The guy from Arizona State that Brock beat is really good. Steven, I think, is still kind of figuring out how good he is, even though he jumped up three weights. It’s really an unusual thing, but I think he is starting to realize how good he can be.”

The 165-pound Rodrigues defeated Jacen Petersen of Arizona State, 17-5JT and Erik Travers of Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, 18-2JT. Ervin beat SIU-Edwardsville’s Angelo Silvestro, 10-2 in a 141-pound bout as wellJT.

Illinois defeated the Cougers 41-3JT. SIU-Edwardsville’s Troy Gassoway beat Edelen in a 125-pound contest to secure the Cougars lone win.

The match between Illinois and SIU-Edwardsville saw the Illini win with three pins, highlighted by No. 1 Isaiah Martinez pinning Nate Higgins in a 157-pound matchJT.

No. 6, 174-pound Zac Brunson pinned both of his weekend opponents in quick fashion, adding to his total of four falls on the seasonJT.

During the 2014-15 campaign, Brunson totaled just one pin. Five matches into the 2015-16 season, Brunson has four.

“The pin is the ultimate goal when we wrestle and it’s awarded with the most points for that reason,” Brunson said. “I want to be a team player and I’m here to contribute and pins are the best way to do that. Also, you know, you go out there, you’re pinning people, it puts fear in other people, it keeps you off the mat, keeps you healthy and it gives you something to strive for.”

Brunson wasn’t the only Illini to have a key pin on the day. Redshirt sophomore Brooks Black ended the match and the meet in a heavyweight bout against SIU-Edwardsville’s Chris Johnson.

Black let out a loud scream to his teammates following the pin and ran straight back into the locker room ecstatic, knowing that not only did he secure the win for his team, but another key win for himself.

“Coach Perry, right before I went out there said, ‘Let’s get this kid stuck, you know, let’s stick him, let’s get the pin,’” Black said. “That kind of gave me a little more fire under my butt too. I really wanted to put the pressure on him being my style and I felt that pick and got the bottom-leg cradle.”

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