Four Illini wrestlers into NCAA quarterfinals

Four Illini wrestlers into NCAA quarterfinals

ST. LOUIS — Isaiah Martinez kept his chase for a third straight national title intact during the first day of the NCAA championships at Scottrade Center.

And three of his other Illinois teammates still have a chance to win a national championship after getting through Thursday unscathed.

Martinez, the two-time defending national champion at 157 pounds, won both of his matches on Thursday at 165.

The California native and top seed in his weight class defeated Minnesota’s Nicholas Wanzek via an 8-5 decision on Thursday night to move into today’s quarterfinals after he opened up his stay with a 14-4 major decision against Shaun’Qae McMurty from Northern Illinois in the first round.

But Martinez’s two wins weren’t even the biggest accomplishments on Thursday by the Illini. Emery Parker, a redshirt sophomore at 184, moved into the quarterfinals after posting a 14-9 decision against Myles Martin from Ohio State on Thursday night. Martin was the defending national champion at 184 and had already defeated Parker this season.

“Even early in the year, I came out ready,” Parker said. “I just got caught. I just figured I needed to stop his shots and get to mine early. He kind of broke a little bit once I scored all those points. I think that made the match a lot easier for me.”

The win by Parker against Martin came after Parker, the 11th seed, defeated Hunter Gamble of George Washington in a 6-2 decision during his first-round match at his first NCAA meet.

Zane Richards at 133 advanced into the quarterfinals after earning a 7-6 sudden victory against Lehigh’s Scotty Parker in the second round.

That win came after Richards won his opening match by medical forfeit against Old Dominion’s Alex Madrigal.

Zac Brunson at 174 is also into the quarterfinals after he won via a 6-2 decision against Jake Residori from Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Brunson started his day at the NCAA championships with a 12-1 major decision aginst Purdue’s Jacob Morrissey.

Action resumes at 10 a.m. Friday, with semifinals slated to start at 7 p.m. on Friday.