Illinois edges past Northwestern at Huff Hall


Mark Capapas

Dylan Duncan takes down Michigan opponent Cole Mattin during the Illinois dual against Michigan at Huff Hall on Jan. 26.

By Andrew Medina, Staff Writer

Illinois defeated Northwestern, 19-18, on Sunday at Huff Hall. Redshirt freshman Justin Cardani, senior Travis Piotrowski, redshirt junior Dylan Duncan, redshirt freshman Zac Braunagel and freshman Luke Luffman all won individual matches Sunday. 

Cardani began his first period scrambling for a takedown, keeping his opponent controlled on the mat until the second period began. Cardani went on to wrestle the rest of the match, keeping a lead and finishing with a score of 4-2. 

Piotrowski began his match with early dominance, scoring two takedowns and keeping his opponent on their toes. 

“In the early periods I try to score as many points as I can,” Piotrowski said. “I go out there with every guy, with the same mentality that I’m just going to win and I’m going to do what I do best.” 

Piotrowski scored an additional two takedowns and a four-point near-fall to bring the score to 14-2 going into the third and final period. Piotrowski showed no signs of slowing down and brought the match to an early end with a final takedown followed by a four-point near-fall that set the score to 21-3; a technical fall.

“I felt that he was fading,” Piotrowski said, talking about his opponent in the third period. “I knew for a fact that I was going to get the (technical) fall.”

Duncan succeeded in scoring a takedown in the first period of his match and did not give up any points to his opponent when the round ended. He then chose the bottom position in the next period and reversed his opponent, ending up on top and controlling his opponent from there for the entire second and third rounds. 

Braunagel quickly earned a takedown and two-point near-fall within the first period of his match, bringing the score to 4-1. The second period saw Braunagel choosing the bottom position and not only reversing his opponent but scoring a four-point near-fall and entering the third period with a 10-1 lead. Braunagel took his opponent down for the final time in the third period and ended his match with a score of 13-2. 

Luffman began his match on a difficult note, taking his opponent down due to stalling by the Northwestern wrestler. The second period brought Luffman two points from his opponent’s continual stalling before he took his opponent down and entered the third period with a score of 5-1.

Throughout the remainder of the match, Luffman’s opponent stalled and gave away two more points, but Luffman wasn’t satisfied. He persisted upon scoring a series of takedowns, lifting his opponent overhead to bring him back to the mat. 

“I could hear my coaches screaming ‘keep scoring points, keep progressing,’” Luffman said. “(I was) listening to my coaches and putting faith in me, in my training.”

The Illinois wrestling team travels to Rutgers on Friday and Maryland on Sunday before returning to Huff Hall on Feb. 16 to take on Purdue.

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