Illinois splits weekend at Chattanooga Duels

Illinois%E2%80%99+Travis+Piotrowski+wrestles+with+Maryland%E2%80%99s+Brandon+Cray+in+the+125-pound+weight+class+during+the+meet+at+Huff+Hall+on+Jan.+28.+The+Illini+won+25-18.

The Daily Illini File Photo

Illinois’ Travis Piotrowski wrestles with Maryland’s Brandon Cray in the 125-pound weight class during the meet at Huff Hall on Jan. 28. The Illini won 25-18.

By Josh Pietsch, Staff Writer

The Illini traveled to Chattanooga, Tennessee this weekend to compete in the Chattanooga Duels, where they split the match 1-1 Sunday. Illinois was defeated by Army West Point to start the day but earned its first dual-match win of the season by defeating the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to end the weekend. 

Coming off of a successful start to their season, the Illini hoped to keep the momentum going over the weekend in Chattanooga. But the day didn’t start on a positive note for the Illini. Army out-hustled Illinois and won the dual-match 19-15. Despite the loss, several Illini saw success in their first matches.

Senior Travis Piotrowski, redshirt freshman Danny Braunagel, redshirt freshman Zac Braunagel, redshirt sophomore Matt Wrobleski and true freshman Luke Luffman all picked up victories against Army. Luffman and Danny Braunagel each achieved their first dual win of the season with their respective victories.

Despite a subpar team performance against Army, the second match ended in Illinois’ favor, with the team defeating UT-Chattanooga 22-10. This secured the Illini’s first dual-match victory of the season, one of the many positives the team can take away from this past weekend. The match not only ended in a team victory, but seven more individual victories as well, four of them being career firsts for dual-meets. 

Piotrowski, redshirt freshman Justin Cardani, redshirt freshman We Rachal, redshirt senior Eric Barone, Danny Braunagel, redshirt senior Joey Gunther and Luffman all picked up victories over UT-Chattanooga. Cardini, Rachal, Barone and Gunther each won their first dual-match of the year, while Piotrowski, Danny Braunagel and Luffman were the only Illini to win both matches on the day. 

Multiple wrestlers found themselves behind in their matches but fought back for wins, and experience was gained as six wrestlers won their first dual-meet matches.

Illinois gets a short break before returning to the mats, as the team heads to Missouri to compete again on Thursday. Illinois will take on the No. 10-ranked Missouri Tigers in a dual meet at Francis Howell High School in St. Louis at 7 p.m.

@JPietsch14

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