Illini face Huskies at home in dual-meet this Friday


Photo Courtesy of Illini Athletics

Freshman Luke Luffman after winning a match against a Missouri opponent on Nov. 14.

By Josh Pietsch, Staff Writer

Friday, the Illinois wrestling team will square off against Northern Illinois University in a dual meet at Huff Hall. The dual marks the first home match for the Illini this season. Illinois currently has an overall record of 2-1, while Northern Illinois sits at 4-2.

The Illini are coming off of an over three-week break, not having wrestled since Nov. 14 against Missouri. 

When they traveled to St. Louis to take on the Missouri Tigers, the Illini were fresh off a poor performance in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but everything turned around against the Tigers. Illinois upset No. 13 Mizzou, coming in as underdogs and surprising fans with the team victory. 

Unlike their opponents, the Huskies aren’t coming in with momentum, whatsoever. The Huskies haven’t wrestled in over a week, with their last match on Nov. 24. Northern Illinois traveled to West Lafayette, Indiana, to take on Clarion, the University of Indianapolis and Purdue in a dual meet. Despite winning its first two matchups of the day over Clarion and Indianapolis, Northern Illinois was defeated by an unranked Purdue team, losing by a score of 31-8. 

Along with the Illini’s team victory over the Tigers, Illinois also saw bright spots from several individual performances. 

Six of the 10 Illini that wrestled earned victories against the Tigers. Redshirt freshman Justin Cardani won the first matchup of the day, followed by a win over a ranked opponent by teammate senior Travis Piotrowski. Two more ranked wrestlers, redshirt freshmen Danny Braunagel and Zac Braunagel, also earned wins for Illinois. 

The two Illini with the biggest victory meets were redshirt senior Joey Gunther and freshman Luke Luffman. Gunther, who is ranked No. 18 in his weight class, won a match over the No. 8-ranked wrestler at 174. Luffman, who wrestles at 285-pounds, won the final match of the day, securing the upset-victory for Illinois.

The match against Northern Illinois is set to start at 7 p.m Friday at Huff Hall, which will be followed by another long break for the Illini. After 23 days without a match, Illinois will wrestle again in the 57th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships on December 29-30 at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. 


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