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CORNELL REGIONAL: Bump pays off for Gonzalez, Illini in victory over host Big Red

If anyone in attendance at the Ithaca regional for the NWCA/Cliff Keen Division I National Duals, “Mat Mayhem,” had any doubts as to if the event would live up to its nickname beforehand, very few of them left unconvinced.

After three rounds and a total of five dual meets, the regional title and berth into next weekend’s National Duals Finals came down to the very last bout of the afternoon, with Illinois edging host, returning champion and No. 1 seed Cornell, 19-16, after both teams headed into the heavyweight clash tied.

The Illini led the entire match before the Big Red won two straight bouts at 184- and 197-pounds to knot things at 16-all, at which time Illinois coach Jim Heffernan sent sophomore Mario Gonzalez, ranked No. 13 at 197-pounds, onto the mat to face Cornell heavyweight senior Maciej Jochym. The undersized but quicker Gonzalez led wire-to-wire, earning an 8-2 victory that gave his team the regional championship.

“We had been talking about it for a couple of weeks that if it came down to it that would potentially be something we might do,” said Heffernan about wrestling Gonzalez at heavyweight. “Mario is a tough kid, he’s really athletic and he can give those big guys problems. That was our thought process.”

Illinois won a tough match against Oklahoma, 21-18, to advance to the final, while Cornell eased past Purdue, 29-6, to earn a spot in the championship. Both teams had byes into the second round, as the Sooners beat American, 35-12, in the first round and the Boilermakers upset fourth-seeded Central Michigan, 27-9. It was the first time first-year Oklahoma coach Mark Cody faced his former wrestlers.

“I don’t know how this events fits into the season yet,” Heffernan said. “The timing of it still concerns me, but I think the concept is very good. That’s my opinion. For us it was a positive to not have to wrestle Big Ten teams again. It was really positive to wrestle teams like Oklahoma and Cornell and it’s something I think will benefit our guys. I’m hoping this event can grow into something that is a huge deal.”

This year is the first time the new format for the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals was in effect, featuring four regional locations and a culminating championship for the four teams that advance instead of a 16-team bracket held in one location and over two days.

“To me, emotional situations, big situations, big matches are really good for team confidence, team bonding, whatever you want to call it,” Heffernan said. “Those situations are huge in my opinion. It’s a lot easier to train off a big win than a loss, so from that standpoint this is really good for our team.”

Sunday’s final between Illinois and Cornell got off to an exciting start, as Illini freshman Jesse Delgado and Big Red senior Frank Perrelli faced off at 125-pounds. Perrelli was ranked fifth in the most recent NCAA Coaches Panel Rankings, while Delgado was seventh.

Delgado, who defeated No. 10 Jarrod Patterson of Oklahoma in the second round, scored an 8-3 decision over Perrelli, which Heffernan said was important in giving Illinois the early momentum and “put the crowd out of it a little bit.”

Illinois also prevailed at 133-pounds and were up 8-0 after junior B.J. Futrell extended a career-best winning streak to 12 with a 18-3 major decision over Cornell’s Nick Arujau, a recent addition to the Big Red lineup.

Cornell won its first bout of the match at 141-pounds with sophomore Mike Nevinger blanking Illinois’ Daryl Thomas, 9-0, but the Illini responded with a win at 149-pounds to push their advantage back to 11-4.

Then stepped up Cornell’s two-time national champion junior Kyle Dake, ranked No. 1 in the country at 157-pounds and undefeated in 26 bouts, who after appearing to reaggravate an arm injury, labored to a 6-4 decision over sophomore Jackson Morse to get Cornell within four points. Morse scored a takedown of Dake in the final seconds of the bout, marking the first offensive points Dake has yielded all this season.

Illinois then scored two decisions through No. 10 Conrad Polz and No. 9 Jordan Blanton at 165- and 174-pounds, respectively, before Cornell won the next two bouts to set up the thrilling finish.

Big Red senior Steve Bosak, ranked fourth at 184-pounds, won a 4-0 decision over Tony Dallago to make it 17-10, before classmate and No. 2 ranked wrestler at 197 Cam Simaz scored a pivotal pin in 3:31 on Illinois’ Marty Smith. Illinois would have held a one-point lead heading into the heavyweight bout, but Smith was docked a team point following the match, knotting the score at 16 heading into the showdown between Gonzalez and Jochym.

“I knew I was going to be quicker then him so I just had to move my feet and get in deep, which is what I did,” Gonzalez said. “This is probably one of the most exciting wrestling experiences that I’ve had in a while with our team. We’ve grown so much this year and this is the best we’ve been since we came to Illinois, so it’s exciting.”

The last time the Illini participated in the National Duals was 2005, when they took runner-up honors to No. 1 ranked Oklahoma State, falling, 22-15, in the finals.

Cornell won its first ever National Duals title last year in Cedar Falls, Iowa, but will not be in the Final Four this season to defend its title.

“We lost matches to kids that were just better than us today,” said Cornell coach Rob Koll. “Just because you want to win doesn’t mean you’re going to win. At those weights today they were just better than us. We could wrestle them 10 times and it might be the same way. As a competitor I want to win, but now we get three full weeks to heal up and train before (EIWA’s).”


125 - Jesse Delgado (Illinois) over Frank Perrelli (Cornell) Dec 8-3
133 - Bernard Futrell (Illinois) over Naryman Arujau (Cornell) TF 18-3
141 - Michael Nevinger (Cornell) over Daryl Thomas (Illinois) Maj 9-0
149 - Eric Terrazas (Illinois) over Christopher Villalonga (Cornell) Dec 3-1
157 - Kyle Dake (Cornell) over Jackson Morse (Illinois) Dec 6-4
165 - Conrad Polz (Illinois) over Marshall Peppelman (Cornell) Dec 8-3
174 - Jordan Blanton (Illinois) over William George (Cornell) Dec 7-6
184 - Steve Bosak (Cornell) over Tony Dallago (Illinois) Dec 4-0
197 - Cam Simaz (Cornell) over Martin Smith (Illinois) Pin 3:31
285 - Mario Gonzalez (Illinois) over Maciej Jochym (Cornell) Dec 8-2

#1 CORNELL 29, #5 PURDUE 6

125 - Frank Perrelli (Cornell) over Camden Eppert (Purdue) Dec 8-3
133 - Cashe Quiroga (Purdue) over Naryman Arujau (Cornell) Dec 7-5
141 - Michael Nevinger (Cornell) over Brandon Nelsen (Purdue) Maj 12-2
149 - Ivan Lopouchanski (Purdue) over Christopher Villalonga (Cornell) Dec 9-7
157 - Craig Eifert (Cornell) over Tommy Churchard (Purdue) Dec 9-6
165 - Marshall Peppelman (Cornell) over Kyle Mosier (Purdue) Dec 7-4
174 - William George (Cornell) over Drake Stein (Purdue) Dec 5-2
184 - Steve Bosak (Cornell) over Braden Atwood (Purdue) Maj 10-0
197 - Cam Simaz (Cornell) over Unknown (Unattached) Forf
285 - Maciej Jochym (Cornell) over Alex White (Purdue) Dec 6-1

125 - Jesse Delgado (Illinois) over Jarrod Patterson (Oklahoma) Pin 5:57
133 - Bernard Futrell (Illinois) over Jordan Keller (Oklahoma) Dec 6-1
141 - Kendric Maple (Oklahoma) over Daryl Thomas (Illinois) Maj 13-5
149 - Nick Lester (Oklahoma) over Eric Terrazas (Illinois) Dec 1-0
157 - Matt Lester (Oklahoma) over Jackson Morse (Illinois) Maj 11-2
165 - Conrad Polz (Illinois) over Patrick Graham (Oklahoma) Dec 3-2
174 - Jordan Blanton (Illinois) over Kyle Detmer (Oklahoma) Pin 4:34
184 - Tony Dallago (Illinois) over Erich Schmditke (Oklahoma) Dec 6-3
197 - Keldrick Hall (Oklahoma) over Mario Gonzalez (Illinois) OT 6-4
285 - Kyle Colling (Oklahoma) over Patrick Walker (Illinois) Maj 9-0


125 - Camden Eppert (Purdue) over Unknown (Unattached) Forf
133 - Cashe Quiroga (Purdue) over Zach Horan (Central Michigan) Dec 6-2
141 - Brandon Nelsen (Purdue) over Scott Mattingly (Central Michigan) Dec 4-2
149 - Ivan Lopouchanski (Purdue) over Joey Kielbasa (Central Michigan) Dec 7-5
157 - Tommy Churchard (Purdue) over Donnie Corby (Central Michigan) Dec 7-2
165 - Kyle Mosier (Purdue) over Mike Ottinger (Central Michigan) Dec 5-4
174 - Anthony Bill (Central Michigan) over Drake Stein (Purdue) Dec 10-5
184 - Ben Bennett (Central Michigan) over Braden Atwood (Purdue) Dec 7-2
197 - A.J. Kissel (Purdue) over Chad Friend (Central Michigan) Pin 1:31
285 - Peter Sturgeon (Central Michigan) over Alex White (Purdue) Dec 5-2

125 - Jarrod Patterson (Oklahoma) over Chris Brienza (American) Pin 2:34
133 - Jordan Keller (Oklahoma) over Corey Borshoff (American) TF 23-8
141 - Kendric Maple (Oklahoma) over Matthew Mariacher (American) Dec 9-2
149 - Nick Lester (Oklahoma) over Kevin Tao (American) Dec 7-2
157 - Ganbayar Sanjaa (American) over Matt Lester (Oklahoma) Pin 3:40
165 - Patrick Graham (Oklahoma) over Mark Cirello (American) TF4 26-11
174 - Kyle Detmer (Oklahoma) over Phillip Barreiro (American) Pin 2:33
184 - Erich Schmditke (Oklahoma) over Thomas Barreiro (American) Maj 17-7
197 - Keldrick Hall (Oklahoma) over Daniel Mitchell (American) Maj 14-5
285 - Ryan Flores (American) over Kyle Colling (Oklahoma) Pin 4:53


125 - Chris Brienza (American) over Unknown (Unattached) Forf
133 - Tyler Keselring (Central Michigan) over Corey Borshoff (American) TF 16-1
141 - Matthew Mariacher (American) over Scott Mattingly (Central Michigan) Maj 16-6
149 - Kevin Tao (American) over Joey Kielbasa (Central Michigan) Dec 4-0
157 - Ganbayar Sanjaa (American) over Donnie Corby (Central Michigan) Dec 3-2
165 - Mike Ottinger (Central Michigan) over Mark Cirello (American) Maj 9-1
174 - Anthony Bill (Central Michigan) over Phillip Barreiro (American) Dec 7-3
184 - Ben Bennett (Central Michigan) over Thomas Barreiro (American) Maj 15-5
197 - Daniel Mitchell (American) over Craig Kelliher (Central Michigan) Dec 6-2
285 - Ryan Flores (American) over Peter Sturgeon (Central Michigan) Pin 2:11
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