LINCOLN, Neb. -- No. 5 Illinois won four of the bouts at No. 14 Nebraska, but the Cornhuskers took six of the 10 total bouts as they took a 18-15 win at NU Coliseum Friday. Jesse Delgado (125) was the only wrestler in the match to score bonus points while the Illini also got wins from No. 5 Mario Gonzalez (197), No. 7Conrad Polz (174) and No. 9 Daryl Thomas (133). Illinois falls to 5-1 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten.
"This match more than anything showed how important it is to be at full strength in this conference," head coach Jim Heffernan said. "It also shows how important BJ Futrell is as a leader on our team. It was great having Jesse and Daryl return and they both looked good. Conrad and Tony Dallago wrestled well and made some gains. We will need more guys carrying the load as we move forward."
The match started at 133, where Thomas picked up his third dual meet victory this season and first over a Big Ten opponent when he defeated Nebraska's Shawn Nagel 10-8 to put the Illini up an early 3-0. Illinois then dropped three consecutive weight classes. At 141, Logan Arlis and No. 19 Ridge Kiley competed hard throughout the scoreless first period, but the Cornhusker escaped, score a three-point takedown and earned the riding time to defeat Arlis 4-0. Nebraska earned more team points at 149 and 157, as Caleb Ervin dropped his bout to No. 15 Jake Sueflohn by a 8-1 decision while Matt Nora was defeated by a 9-4 decision over No. 5 James Green to extend the Cornhuskers team score to 9-3.
Illinois got back on the board at 165, when No. 7 Conrad Polz moved past Nebraska's Tyler Koehn by a 10-4 decision to stayed undefeated in dual meets this season. The victory was his 14th overall while the Orland Park, Ill., native remains unbeaten in conference play.
No. 3 Robert Kokesh was too much for No. 8 Jordan Blanton on Friday night, as Kokesh defeated the Illini grappler by an 8-3 decision to give the Cornhuskers the 12-6 lead. In what was one of the closest bouts of the night, No. 11 Tony Dallago narrowly missed beating No. 7 Josh Ihnen by a 5-4 decision.
At 197, #5 Mario Gonzalez notched his second consecutive victory over a Big Ten opponent, as he defeated Caleb Cobb by a 4-3 decision to inch the Illini closer, 15-6 with two bouts remaining. Chris Lopez dropped a 3-1 decision at heavyweight to seal the victory for the Cornhuskers and push the team score to 18-9.
In the final bout of the night, No. 4 Delgado scored the most points of any Illini, before pinning Eric Coufal in 6:55 to score the only bonus points of the entire match. However the Cornhuskers moved on with the final score of 18-15 over the Illini.
The Illini will continue their Big Ten season on Monday, Jan. 21 when they travel to No. 4 Minnesota. The dual will be aired live on the Big Ten Network beginning at 7:30 p.m. CT.
#14 Nebraska 18, #5 Illinois 15
133: #11 Daryl Thomas (ILL) dec. Shawn Nagel (NEB), 10-8 (3-0)
141: Ridge Kiley (NEB) dec. Logan Arlis (ILL), 4-0 (3-3)
149: #15 Jake Sueflohn (NEB) dec. Caleb Ervin (ILL), 8-1 (3-6)
157: #5 James Green (NEB) dec. Matt Nora (ILL), 9-4 (3-9)
165: #7 Conrad Polz (ILL) dec. Tyler Koehn (NEB), 10-4 (6-9)
174: #3 Robert Kokesh (NEB) dec, #4 Jordan Blanton (ILL), 8-3 (6-12)
184: #7 Josh Ihnen (NEB) dec. #11 Tony Dallago (ILL), 5-4 (6-15)
197: #5 Mario Gonzalez (ILL) dec. Caleb Cobb (NEB), 4-3 (9-15)
HWT: Spencer Johnson (NEB) dec. Chris Lopez (ILL), 3-1 (9-18)
125: #4 Jesse Delgado (ILL) pinned Eric Coufal (NEB), 6:55 (15-18)