Illini wrestlers round into form
CHAMPAIGN — With just two duals remaining in the Big Ten season, Illinois wrestling coach Jim Heffernan is pleased with his team's continued progress, especially after the eighth-ranked Illini knocked off 18th-ranked Northwestern 26-10 on Friday at Huff Hall.
"Wins are always good. It keeps things on a positive note. The more we win, the more we all start to believe," Heffernan said. "I think heading into the postseason we're all feeling pretty good about where we're at."
Daryl Thomas (141 pounds) and Tony Dallago (184) won by major decision and No. 5 B.J. Futrell (133) won by pinfall to spearhead the Illini attack.
"I thought we wrestled very aggressive and were on the offensive," Heffernan said. "Daryl Thomas beat a highly recruited kid (Colin Shober), and he really dominated in his match. That was very impressive. (No. 12) Jordan Blanton had a huge win over a guy (No. 13 Lee Munster) who's had a lot of success this year."
No. 10 Conrad Polz (165), No. 16 Eric Terrazas (149) and No. 16 Mario Gonzalez (197) also picked up wins for the Illini, who improved to 12-2 and 4-2 in the Big Ten.
"We had seven wins tonight, and I thought all seven did a good job. They did a great job, all of them really did," Heffernan said.
In women's gymnastics:
Weinstein shines. Junior Alina Weinstein won her second career all-around title with the ninth-best score (39.400) in school history, but No. 14 Illinois fell to No. 19 Michigan 194.225-193.700.
Weinstein won on the bars, tied for the top spot on the beam and tied for third in the vault and floor exercise.
"It was nice to go out there and do what I do in the gym every day," Weinstein said. "I was able to hit all my sets, and this was the first time I felt like I went out there and did my job on every event."
Illinois' Kelsey Joannides finished second in the all-around (39.300). The senior finished in a first-place tie on the beam, tied for third on vault and finished tied for fifth on bars and floor.
In women's tennis:
Illini remain perfect. Illinois didn't drop a set in defeating Winthrop 7-0 in the ITA Kick-off Weekend, hosted by Duke. Allison Falkin, Rachael White, Marisa Lambropoulos and Melissa Kopinski all won singles and doubles matches to pace the Illini, who are 4-0 for the first time since starting 5-0 in 1992.
"Across the board, the performance was solid for the Illini today," Illinois coach Michelle Dasso said. "The team is hungry for success. ... We've been reinforcing a few things all year — expectations of success and faceless opponents, which basically means playing hard and not caring who is across the net. I'm looking forward to tomorrow night and seeing if the girls still carry those two themes on the court with them."