Illini wrestling finish strong to earn second conference win of the season

By Alex Wallner

Tweet: [email protected] finishes strong in a tight dual against the Badgers in Madison.

At 2-4 in the Big Ten and 11-4 overall, the No. 13 ranked Illinois wrestling team has just three duals remaining on the regular season slate before the Big Ten Championships in Iowa City, Iowa, in March.

The Illini earned a much needed win on Sunday in Madison, Wisconsin against the Wisconsin Badgers (1-5, 0-3) by a score of 21-13.

Martinez’s win has him eyeing another national championship

Sunday was a bounce back day for No. 2 ranked Isaiah Martinez who, at 157-pounds, lost his first career match in college just eight days earlier.

Martinez said ever since the loss, everything has been a little different but the focus has not changed one bit.

“Lately, it’s been a little different,” Martinez said. “I’ve just been trying to stay focused on what’s important, the end goal and winning a national championship more than ever. As for Sunday, I did what I did, went out and attacked, put some points on the board and I got a technical fall.”

Martinez defeated the Badgers’ T.J. Ruschell 16-1, only allowing one escape.

Another technical fall had Martinez feeling even more confident as he believes he can score a lot of points against anyone in the country.

“I can’t wait to start facing more opponents in the top-eight,” Martinez said. “As we get more into the postseason, I’m curious to see if I can do the same to them. I believe I can, for the most part, I believe I can still put up those kind of points. That’s what it’s about, just going out and dominating your opponent. You know, I think a technical fall epitomizes that and it’s just kind of something that I’ve become known for.”

Redshirt freshman picks up first conference win of career

Coming off six straight losses, five of which were against Big Ten opponents, redshirt freshman Andre Lee picked up his first conference win against Wisconsin’s Eric Peissing by a 7-3 decision.

Lee said that his offensive skills are what make him capable of defeating anyone, but still needs to stay focused on what he is skilled at the most and not what his opponent is doing.

“I’m trying to really be conscious of getting to my offense,” Lee said. “During a lot of those matches that I have lost this year, I have been so focused on what my opponent’s going to do, instead of working on what I need to do because I know what I’m capable of what my offense is capable of doing. It all falls on if I’m going to go out there and do it.”

Illini head coach Jim Heffernan said in a press release that Lee will continue to grow with more experience and will be successful because of his offensive ability.

Tough loss against No. 3 Isaac Jordan at 165-pounds

Going into Sunday, Illinois’ Steven Rodrigues was ranked No. 4 at 165-pounds and faced No. 3 Isaac Jordan of the Badgers.

Rodrigues lost a tight contest against Jordan, 5-2, but felt that he let Jordan control the majority of the match.

Rodrigues added that he feels that he is right up there with some of the best in his class, it’s just all centered around believing in himself and getting to what he does best.

“I kind of let him control the pace and let him wrestle his match,” Rodrigues said. “I didn’t get to my ties and I let him be a little too comfortable. I know that I’m right there with the best guys. I’ve wrestled No. 2 and No. 3 so far and it’s just about believing in myself.”

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