Illinois Wins Big Ten Title

March 6, 2005

IOWA CITY, IA – An adventure 53 years in the making has finally been concluded for Illinois at the 2005 Big Ten Conference Wrestling Championships. The Fighting Illini won their first conference title since 1952 here Sunday (March 6) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on the campus of the University of Iowa.

In his 13th season in Champaign, Illini head coach Mark Johnson brought home the Big Ten title with a 130-point performance at this year’s championships. Coming in second was Minnesota with 123.5 points followed by Michigan with 118, Iowa with 94.5 and Indiana and Wisconsin tied for fifth with 89 points. Rounding out the field was Penn State with 72.5 points, Michigan State with 70.5, Northwestern with 68.5, Purdue with 38.5 and Ohio State with 26.5.

Illinois began the day in first place with 114.5 points and would quickly add to its total with wrestlers in the opening finals matches. Entering the third period of the 125-pound finals, Michigan State’s Nick Simmons held a 3-2 advantage which quickly became a 4-2 lead in the opening seconds of the third stanza versus top-seeded Kyle Ott of Illinois. A sophomore, Simmons would hold on to the lead in the finals-bout to win the Big Ten title at 125-pounds.

With 4:34 off the clock in the championship match at 133-pounds, Minnesota’s Mack Reiter pinned down Illinois’s Mark Jayne. The second-seeded Reiter held on to record the win by technical fall and claim the Big Ten title. In addition to being a senior, Jayne was also the 2004 Big Ten champion in the weight class while Reiter is now a conference champion in his freshman season.

The finals of the 141-pound weight class saw a close match between Josh Churella of Michigan and Andy Simmons of Michigan State. Churella scored two points on a take-down in the second period to get on the board first. Simmons logged one escape to cut Churella’s lead in half but was unable to get that second point, falling in a 2-1 decision to the Wolverine freshman.

Another Maize and Blue wrestler would win the next final. At 149-pounds, Eric Tannenbaum defeated Wisconsin’s Craig Henning in a 3-2 decision. Henning was the lowest seed to make it to the finals as the sixth seed in the championships but could not get past the top seeded Tannenbaum.

With four of the ten brackets concluded Illinois maintained a slim lead over the field with 121 points. Minnesota was in second with 117.5, Michigan third with 112, Iowa in fourth 91.5 points and Indiana in fifth with 86.

Illinois claimed its first championship and added to its lead after the 157-pound weight class. Junior Alex Tirapelle won a 4-3 decision over Ryan Bertin of Michigan to keep Illinois in the lead. The victory gives Tirapelle back-to-back Big Ten titles after his win in 2004 at Ohio State.

Iowa’s Mark Perry and Michigan’s Ryan Churella wrestled a tough match in the 165-pound finals. Down 5-3 in the third period, Perry flipped Churella onto his back. Perry was close to getting the pin but Churella escaped. Perry was awarded two points to tie the match. The bout would end 5-5; however, Churella would be awarded an extra-point for riding time to give the Wolverine the title. The junior joins his brother Josh as Big Ten champions in 2005.

Still in the lead, Illinois continued to make a charge at securing the Big Ten Conference title with Pete Friedl wrestling in the finals at 174-pounds. Friedl would come through for the Fighting Illini with a 4-3 decision over Northwestern’s Jake Herbert. The win not only gave Friedl the conference crown but clinched the overall title for the Illini. With 129 points, the Orange and Blue’s lead over the field was now too great to be overcome.

Illinois was looking for some more icing on the cake in the finals of the 184-pound division. Top seeded Brian Glynn would have the bad luck of going up against last year’s Big Ten champion – Penn State’s Eric Bradley. A junior, Bradley won a 3-2 decision over Glynn to claim the Big Ten title.

It took an extra period to decide a winner in the 197-pound and the heavyweight brackets. Matt Delguyd of Northwestern came out with a 5-3 sudden-victory decision over J.D. Bergam of Ohio State. In the final match of the championships Cole Konrad added three extra points in the fourth period to defeat Pat DeGain of Indiana 4-1 for the Big Ten title.

The third place finishers and bronze medal winners from each weight class were; the Hoosier’s Joe Dubuque at 125-pounds and Brady Richardson at 174-pounds, the Badger’s Tom Clum at 133, the Fighting Illini’s Cassio Pero at 141, the Hawkeye’s Ty Eustice at 149 and Joe Johnston at 157, the Golden Gopher’s Matt Nagel at 165, the Hoosier’s Brady Richardson at 174, the Badger’s Brady Reinke at 184 and Ryan Flaherty at 197 and Greg Wagner of Michigan at heavyweight.

At the conclusion of the championships the Big Ten Conference handed out awards to Michigan’s Ryan Bertin for Wrestler of the Year, Minnesota’s Mack Reiter for Freshman of the Year and for Wrestler of the Championships, and Illinois’ Mark Johnson for Coach of the Year.

In addition the All-Big Ten conference first and second teams were named with the first team consisting of the champions from each weight class and the second team made-up of the runner-up in each division. Nick Simmons of Michigan State, Mack Reiter of Minnesota, Josh Churella, Ryan Churella and Eric Tannenbaum of Michigan, Alex Tirapelle and Pete Friedl of Illinois, Eric Bradley of Penn State, Matt Delguyd of Northwestern and Cole Konrad of Minnesota.

The 2004-05 All-Big Ten Conference second team features Kyle Ott, Mark Jayne and Brian Glynn of Illinois, Andy Simmons of Michigan State, Craig Henning of Wisconsin, Ryan Bertin of Michigan, Mark Perry of Iowa, Jake Herbert of Northwestern, J.D. Bergman of Ohio State and Pat DeGain of Indiana.

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