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No. 13 Gophers wrestling tops No. 9 Illinois 25-13

Top-ranked heavyweight wrestler Gable Steveson recorded his 10th career pin.
Image by Emily Urfer
An Iowa State wrestler takes down Gopher Wrestler Boo Dryden at Maturi Pavilion on Friday, Jan. 22. The Gophers lost with a final score of 35-4.

The Gophers wrestling team earned its third straight dual victory, defeating No. 9 Illinois 25-13 on Friday at Maturi Pavilion.

To open the match, No. 7 Patrick McKee won a tight contest 4-2 against No. 13 Justin Cardani in the 125-pound match as the Gophers quickly jumped out to a 3-0 lead.

Up next, No. 19 Boo Dryden faced No. 20 Lucas Byrd at 133-pounds in a match where Byrd tallied two takedowns en route to an 11-3 major decision over Dryden. This gave the Fighting Illini their first lead at 4-3.

After that, Marcos Polanco battled No. 13 Dylan Duncan in the 141-pound weight class. Polanco managed to get a two-point reversal in the contest, but that wasn’t enough to win as Duncan topped Polanco 4-2. This victory put Illinois at a four-point advantage.

At 149 pounds, Michael Blockhus and No. 8 Mike Carr competed in a close battle with Carr completing two takedowns. Blockhus notched three escapes, but couldn’t close the deal and fell 5-3. With three straight victories, Illinois started to pull away, taking a 10-3 lead.

At the 157-pound weight class, No. 6 Brayton Lee started off with a takedown over Johnny Mologousis and didn’t look back. Lee racked up 10 takedowns as he rolled to a technical fall win 26-8 that bolted the Gophers back in the contest 10-8. This was Lee’s fifth technical fall win.

Starting the second half of the match, in the 165 pound class, No. 15 Andrew Sparks took on Luke Odom. Sparks, following Lee, had nine takedowns and defeated Odom 21-7 in another major decision victory. The two dominating performances put the Gophers back on top 13-10.

At 174-pounds, No. 16 Jake Allar defeated DJ Shannon 8-3. Shannon didn’t let Allar get a big lead early, but still came up short as the Gophers pulled away further, 16-10.

A top-15 duel was featured in the 184-pound match, with No. 15 Owen Webster vs No. 7 Zac Braunagel. Webster lost to Braunagel in a tight match during the Big Ten Championships last spring.

After two periods the score was deadlocked at 2-2, with Webster nabbing a takedown and Braunagel escaping twice. With a clutch escape in the third period, Webster completed the decision upset with a 3-2 score, giving the Gophers a 19-10 advantage.

Garret Joles took on Matt Wroblewski in an unranked match at 197-pounds. In the third period, Joles made an escape to even the score at 4-4. The match went into overtime and Wroblewski completed a takedown to win 6-4. Illinois made a dent into the Gophers lead with one match to go, trailing 19-13.

For the finale, the marquee heavyweight matchup between No. 1 Gable Stevenson and No. 6 Luke Luffman ensued and it didn’t last long. Steveson notched his 10th career pin, this one coming in just 34 seconds to secure the Gophers’ victory.

“That pin was big,” Gophers head coach Brandon Eggum said of Steveson’s fall victory. “It’s not easy to get bonus points versus one of the top six guys in the country. Owen and Brayton also gave us a lot of room for error which is always a nice thing to have going against a talented team like Illinois.”

The Gophers have won three straight contests after dismantling Purdue 32-4 in Piscataway, New Jersey and going on to defeat the host, No. 24 Rutgers 21-18. Up next, they travel to Madison, Wisconsin to take on the No. 17 Badgers.

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