UPDATE THROUGH END OF SECOND SESSION
The Illini will have one wrestler going for a Big Ten title tomorrow, as Mario Gonzalez racked up a pin of Purdue's A.J. Kissel in just 2:44 to advance to tomorrow's final against Indiana's Matt Powless, the #2 seed. Illinois' last Big Ten champ was John Dergo in 2010.
The other three Illini competing in semifinal matches all fell to higher seeded wrestlers. They'll move into tomorrow morning's consolation semifinals. Meanwhile, Tony Dallago (184) and Jordan Blanton (174) both clinched NCAA bids with victories in the consolation quarterfinals. Daryl Thomas (141) needs a win in tomorrow's consolation semis, or a victory in the fifth place match to punch his ticket. Jackson Morse (157) will wrestle for 7th place tomorrow, but with only six automatic bids in his weight class, he'll need to win that match and hope to earn a wildcard bid.
Heavyweight Pat Walker got an extra chance for an NCAA tournament bid despite starting 0-2 in the tournament, because the Big Ten has ten automatic NCAA bids in his weight class. In his matchup with #3 Ben Apland of Michigan for an NCAA bid, Walker was pinned in the second period.
The Illini remain in 4th place after the evening session today with 81.5 team points. Minnesota moved into first place with 117 points, and five wrestlers in the finals. Iowa is in second place with 112.5 points and six finalists. Penn State fell to third place with 111 points and three finalists. Ohio State is close behind the Illini with 76 points, and one wrestler in the finals. No other team has more than one finalist.
I had a chance to talk with Mario Gonzalez after his exciting pin in the semifinals, and here's that conversation.
Won't be able to stay for tomorrow's final session, as I have some basketball duties to attend to. Be sure to check out Jeff Scott's stuff in the News-Gazette tomorrow and Sunday.
Thanks for reading.
UPDATE THROUGH FIRST CONSOLATION ROUND
It's been a very solid consolation round for the Illini, as Daryl Thomas (141), Eric Terrazas (149), Jackson Morse (157), Jordan Blanton (174) and Tony Dallago (184) all stayed alive in their brackets. None of these wrestlers can finish any worse than 8th place. Based on the auto-qualifier allocations, that means that Terrazas and Blanton have clinched NCAA Tournament bids. Here are the allocations for the Big Ten at each weight class: 125 - 6, 133 - 7, 141 - 5, 149 - 9, 157 - 6, 165 - 8, 174 - 9, 184 - 7, 197 - 7, Hwt - 10.
Based on their advancement to the semifinals, and clinching no worse than 6th place, Delgado, Futrell, Polz and Gonzalez have also clinched NCAA tournament bids.
UPDATE AFTER FIRST SESSION
Here are the team standings after the first session, with the Illini sitting in fourth place:
1. Penn State 78.5
2. Iowa 69
3. Minnesota 59
4. Illinois 40.5
5. Ohio State 36
6. Purdue 30
7. Northwestern 25.5
8. Nebraska 25
9. Michigan 20
10. Indiana 11
11. Michigan State 10
12. Wisconsin 1
And results for the Illini:
#4 Jesse Delgado (125): Quarterfinals def #5 Levi Mele (NW) 6-2
Next: semifinals vs. #1 McDonough (Iowa)
#3 B.J. Futrell (133): Quarterfinals def #6 Zac Stevens (Mich) 10-5
Next: semifinals vs. #2 Ramos (Iowa)
#6 Daryl Thomas (141): Opening round def. Brian Gibbs (MSU) TF 21-4 5:41
Quarterfinals lost to #3 Montell Marion (Iowa) 12-2
Next: Consolation vs. Colin Shober (NW)
#7 Eric Terrazas (149): Opening round def. Mike Kelly (Iowa) 4-2
Quarterfinals: lost to #2 Eric Grajales (Mich) 6-2
Next: Consolation vs. #9 Dan Osterman (MSU)
#8 Jackson Morse (157): Opening round def. Brandon Zeerip (Mich) 5-3
Quarterfinals lost to #1 Jason Welch (NW) TF 16-0 4:33
Next: Consolation vs. Danny Zilverberg (Minn)
#5 Conrad Polz (165): Quarterfinals def. #4 Ben Jordan (Wisc) 8-6
Next: Semifinals vs. #1 David Taylor (PSU)
#8 Jordan Blanton (174): Opening round def. #9 Lee Munster (NW) 10-2
Quarterfinals lost to #1 Ed Ruth (PSU) 14-2
Next: Consolation vs. #7 Tyler Koehn (Neb)
#7 Tony Dallago (184): Quarterfinals lost to #2 Quentin Wright (PSU) 7-2 OT
Next: Consolation vs. Timmy McCall (Wisc)
#5 Mario Gonzalez (197): Opening round def. John Schoen (NW) fall 6:53
Quarterfinals def. #4 Max Huntley (Mich) 6-4
Next: Semifinals vs. #8 A.J. Kissell (Pur)
#11 Pat Walker (Hwt): Opening round lost to #6 Bobby Telford 2-0
Next: Consolation vs. #4 Tucker Lane (Neb)
The next session will start at 4pm CST with consolation matches, followed by the semifinals, then the next round of consolation. Thanks for reading.
UPDATE 12:00 CST
Mario Gonzales picked up a nice win at 197, and it was a minor upset, as the 5th seeded Gonzales knocked off the 4th seeded Max Huntley of Michigan 6-4. Tony Dallago wrestled his heart out at 184 against the #2 seed Quentin Wright of Penn State, and took the match to overtime. But in the sudden victory period, Wright was able to execute a five-point throw for the 7-2 victory. Four Illini (Delgado, Futrell, Polz and Gonzalez) are in tonight's semifinals. The other six Illini are in the consolation bracket. Pat Walker at heavyweight will wrestle in the first round of wrestlebacks, while his five teammates will wrestle in the second consolation round.
Latest team standings update has the Illini in fourth place. Iowa and Penn State have been passing the team lead back and forth, with the Hawkeyes on top in the latest update.
UPDATE 11:30 CST
Illinois was in fourth place through the opening round matches, which is about where they're expected to finish. Already advancing to the semifinals late this afternoon are Jesse Delgado at 125, BJ Futrell at 133, and Conrad Polz at 165. Tony Dallago and Mario Gonzalez will wrestle shortly in their quarterfinal matches. Neither will be favored, but Gonzalez has a decent chance against his opponent from Michigan.
Daryl Thomas (141), Eric Terrazas (149), Jackson Morse (157) and Jordan Blanton (174) all lost to higher seeded wrestlers in the quarterfinals and fall into the consolation bracket along with Pat Walker at heavyweight, who dropped his opening round match.
Good morning from Mackey Arena. The old place looks pretty good after the remodel. A nice start for Illinois here, winning their first five matches of the opening round. Pat Walker is still to wrestle in the opening round matches, while Jesse Delgado is wrestling his quarterfinal match right now against Northwestern's Levi Mele. The highlight of the opening round was Mario Gonzales getting a pin over Matt Shoen of Northwestern.
I'll have some updates periodically in this spot, and for live updates, feel free to check in with me on Twitter @bmoline11.