Jeff Scott: NCAA meet, Day 2 report

Jeff Scott: NCAA meet, Day 2 report

Oklahoma City — BTN wrestling analyst Shane Sparks was clear about his expectations for Day 2 of the NCAA Championships.

“Day 2 is where the cream starts to rise to the stop. What a great day of wrestling ahead,” Sparks said.

Illinois’ Jesse Delgado delivered, advancing to the finals for the second consecutive year.

Delgado continued his winning ways Friday
in the quarterfinals. Delgado’s opponent, Cory Clark of Iowa, was a repeat matchup from the Big Ten meet. Delgado defeated Clark 4-3 at the Big Ten meet, so Iowa fans were ready for an upset.

Delgado had a takedown in the first period. Clark reversed Delgado and made the score 3-2. After a Delgado escape to end the second period, the score was 4-3, and the Iowa fans were getting excited. However, Delgado took control with an escape and a takedown to Clark’s back. Delgado went on to win a 10-5 decision.  

Delgado then faced Northern Iowa’s Dylan Peters in the semifinals. Delgado’s match began with an early takedown and a 2-0 lead. Delgado established himself as the much better wrestler from the neutral position and continued to dominate the middle of the match and took an 8-4 lead at the end of the second period.

Delgado coasted in the final period, finishing with a 9-6 victory and a trip to his second NCAA championship match in a row. He will face Cornell’s Nahshon Garrett.

Garrett (34-1) is the No. 2 seed, and Delgado (29-2) gave Garrett his only loss earlier this season.  

Other Illini in action Friday included Zane Richards at 133 pounds, who finished the tournament 2-2. Zac Brunson also finished 2-2 at 157. Tony Dallago (174) finished 3-2 and ended his career in the top 12, narrowly missing All-America status. Nikko Reyes, a freshman 184-pounder, was 2-2, and senior 197-pounder Mario Gonzalez ended his career with a top 12 finish. Gonzalez finished 3-2.  

Wrestling started with quarterfinal matches in the 10 weight classes. The meet was carried live on ESPN3, and that always brings an added energy to the sport.  

Illinois had a number of matches Friday in which it scored bonus points with pins. The bonus points proved to be important because Illinois was in 10th place in the team standings.

Tournament favorite Penn State, which is trying to win its fourth consecutive team title, has its hands full this weekend.

The Nittany Lions were in third place, five points behind tournament leader Minnesota.  Oklahoma State was in second place. Penn State has a few chances left to score, but it will be close today.  

Here is a quick update on ex-Illinois assistant coach Carl Perry. 

Perry, who left Illinois to become the director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Wrestling ministry, is doing well.

I ran into Perry at the annual FCA Wrestling breakfast. As the director, Perry is responsible for the ministry’s reach nationwide. Perry assures me the ministry is flourishing, and with Perry at the helm, it will likely do well. 

Perry’s leadership was evident throughout the weekend as wrestling fans and leaders from around the country are obviously impressed by his influence. Illini fans should be proud of Perry. He and his wife Jamie (a Mahomet-Seymour grad) are living with their two children in North Carolina.  

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