Senior Night spoiled for wrestlers

Senior Night spoiled for wrestlers

CHAMPAIGN – It didn't go the way Jim Heffernan planned. Not even close.

With a large crowd at Huff Hall, some of them high school wrestlers Heffernan hopes will one day be a part of the program, Purdue routed the Illini 25-11. On Senior Night, no less.

"In the 18 years I've been on this campus, that is the single-worst performance I've ever seen out of one of our wrestling teams," first-year coach Heffernan said. "I have no other way to put it."

What happened?

"I don't know," Heffernan said.

Heffernan showed his unhappiness to his wrestlers after the match, ordering everyone to the locker room for a postmatch "discussion."

The timing wasn't good for the Illini, who will next compete in the Big Ten meet March 6-7 at Ann Arbor, Mich. That's two weeks of stewing after the "worst performance" in 18 years.

Purdue won all but three of the 10 matches.

"It's a very mediocre team, and we made them look like superstars because of our lack of effort," Heffernan said.

The Illini wrestled without 197-pounder Patrick Bond, who is close to returning from an injury. Heffernan said Bond alone wouldn't have made a difference.

"You wrestle with what you've got," Heffernan said. "It doesn't matter if we were missing somebody. It doesn't matter. It can't matter."

The three Illini wins came from Ryan Prater (141 pounds), Conrad Polz (165) and John Dergo (184).

Dergo's win came in front of many family and friends, who made the drive from Morris. The nation's No. 2 184-pounder won his 17th consecutive match to improve to 28-2. He finished 8-0 in the Big Ten duals.

In women's swimming & diving:

Day 2 complete. The 200 medley relay team of Erin Lamb, Meghan Mason, Brittany McGowan and Kristen Manias recorded the sixth-fastest time (1:33.17) in school history during Day 2 of the Big Ten Championships at West Lafayette, Ind. The Illini are in 11th place.

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