Minnesota 28 Illinois 12

Three Pins Push Minnesota Past Illinois, 28-12

MINNEAPOLIS – No. 11 Minnesota (9-2, 4-2 B1G) won six of the final seven matches, including three by pin, for a 28-12 comeback victory over Illinois (3-8, 0-5) Friday night in Champaign, Ill.

The win was Minnesota’s sixth straight over Illinois and its 11th in the last 12 meetings in the series. Over the six-match streak, the Gophers have outscored the Illini 142-75. It was also Minnesota’s third straight in Champaign.

Trailing 9-0, Minnesota first got on the scoreboard at 149 pounds thanks to No. 17 Drew Roberts. Facing Jake Harrier, Roberts dominated on his way to his third major decision of the year in a 15-3 victory. Roberts notched four takedowns as he won for the third time in his last four matches and improved to 3-3 in the Big Ten this season.

Things fully shifted the Gophers’ way at 157 pounds as No. 4 Michael Blockhus pinned Joe Roberts at the 2:28 mark. It was Blockhus’ seventh career pin and his second of the season, along with a fall over Shay MacIntosh of Morgan State on Nov. 18. The victory was the eighth straight for the sixth-year senior, and it gave the Gophers a 10-9 lead going into intermission.

No. 27 Blaine Brenner made it three straight wins for Minnesota with an 8-2 decision over No. 33 Chris Moore at 165 pounds. Takedowns in the second and third periods sent Brenner to his fourth straight victory, pushed his conference record to 4-2 and gave him his team-leading 17th victory overall this year.

The Illini got its final win of the night with a 7-1 decision from No. 8 Edmond Ruth over Andrew Sparks at 174, but the Gophers rattled off three more wins to close out the dual.

At 184 pounds, No. 5 Isaiah Salazar moved to 9-0 in dual matches and 3-0 against ranked opponents this season in a 6-0 decision over No. 31 Dylan Connell. Scoreless after the first period, Salazar rode Connell for the entire second period and picked up four nearfall points en route to his fifth shutout of the season.

Both 197 and heavyweight ended in the first period as sixth-year senior Garrett Joles and redshirt sophomore Bennett Tabor each pinned their opponents.

The 20th-ranked Joles recorded his fourth fall of the season, tying for the team lead, with a pin of Isiah Pettigrew at the 2:25 mark. It was the second fastest pin of the season for Joles, bested only by a fall at 2:21 over Franklin Cruz of Northern Colorado at the Cougar Clash in early December.

Tabor, ranked 30th, joined Joles and Patrick McKee for the team lead with his fourth fall of the season. Tabor did it Friday night over Peter Marinopoulous at the 2:35 mark. The win evened Tabor’s Big Ten record at 3-3 this season.

Illinois got on the board first at 125 pounds as Justin Cardani topped true freshman Brandon Morvari, 7-6 TB2. Making his dual debut, Morvari trailed 3-0 through two periods but recorded a pair of takedowns in the third period to force overtime.

The loss snapped a streak of 16 straight wins for the Gophers dating back to last Friday’s victory over Maryland.

No. 18 Tyler Wells was shut out for the first time this season in a 4-0 loss to No. 30 Tony Madrigal at 133 pounds, and Illinois extended its early lead to 9-0 when No. 26 Danny Pucino topped No. 20 Vance VomBaur, 8-5, at 141 pounds.

Minnesota competes in its final road dual of the regular season Sunday at Purdue. The match starts at 11 a.m. CT and is streaming on B1G+ with live stats on TrackWrestling.com.

Feb. 9, 2024 | Champaign, Ill. | State Farm Center | Attendance: 569

#11 Minnesota 28 Illinois 12
125 Justin Cardani (Illinois) dec. Brandon Morvari (Minnesota) 7-6 tb1
133 #30 Tony Madrigal (Illinois) dec. #18 Tyler Wells (Minnesota) 4-0
141 #26 Danny Pucino (Illinois) dec. #20 Vance VomBaur (Minnesota) 8-5
149 #17 Drew Roberts (Minnesota) maj. dec. Jake Harrier (Illinois) 15-3
157 #4 Michael Blockhus (Minnesota) fall Joe Roberts (Illinois) 2:28
165 #27 Blaine Brenner (Minnesota) dec. #33 Chris Moore (Illinois) 8-2
174 #8 Edmond Ruth (Illinois) dec. Andrew Sparks (Minnesota) 7-1
184 #5 Isaiah Salazar (Minnesota) dec. #31 Dylan Connell (Illinois) 6-0
197 #20 Garrett Joles (Minnesota) fall Isiah Pettigrew (Illinois) 2:25
285 #30 Bennett Tabor (Minnesota) fall Peter Marinopoulos (Illinois) 2:35

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