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Delaying the schedule is not a good strategy for building a fan base. I've never been a Heffernan fan to begin with. I think the weakest part of the Illini team is the head coach.

 

 

... and his brother, a high school assistant in ohio, is a good combination of distilled vinegar and distilled water.......

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2013-14 Illinois Wrestling Schedule

 

November 2, Wrestle off’s at Huff

 

November 9, Open Tournament (Tentative)

 

November 16, Arizona State, SIUE, Ouchita Baptist in Chicago vs Arizona State at Lincolway East High School 11:00am vs SIUE and Ouchita Baptist @Glenbard East 3: 00 & 4:15pm

 

November 30, @ Albany, NY vs. NC State 11:30am (est) George Mason 1:30pm (est)

 

December 1, @Madison Square Garden vs. Cornell and Bloomsburg TBA

 

December, @ Wisconsin 7:00pm

 

December 29 & 30, @ Midlands (Evanston, IL) All Day

 

January 12, Home vs Ohio State 1:00pm

 

January 17, Home vs Michigan 7:00pm

 

January 24, @ Penn State 7:00pm (est)

 

January 26, @ Michigan State 2:00pm (est)

 

February 1 , Nebraska at home 4:00pm Live on Big Ten Network

 

February 7 , @ Purdue 7:00pm

 

February 9 , Northwestern Home 2:00pm

 

February 16 & 17, National Duals @ Columbus, OH All Day

 

March 8 & 9, Big Ten Championships @ Madison, WI

 

March 20, 21, 22, NCAA Championships @ Oklahoma City

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Are the Illini going to wait until after the season starts to issue a schedule? JJH

 

I second this complaint. Their website is updated less frequently than almost any in the country. Their schedule still isn't posted. The roster was only recently updated from last season. The stats from last season are still incomplete for many of the reserves and redshirts.

 

As an Illini fan, I find their utterly lackluster promotion and marketing frustrating. They have a great program with tons of exciting talent in the room, but they toil in relatively obscurity nationally and total obscurity on campus due to a complete lack of emphasis on marketing. This hurts the program both in terms of recruiting clout and in terms of their long term program sustainability.

 

Marketing your program and building some kind of promotable brand is an essential element of program success in this era. While hustling to the degree of marketing pioneers like JRob maybe expecting a bit too much, I don't think communicating with your fan base by updating your website once in awhile is too much to ask for.

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Are the Illini going to wait until after the season starts to issue a schedule? JJH

 

I second this complaint. Their website is updated less frequently than almost any in the country. Their schedule still isn't posted. The roster was only recently updated from last season. The stats from last season are still incomplete for many of the reserves and redshirts.

 

As an Illini fan, I find their utterly lackluster promotion and marketing frustrating. They have a great program with tons of exciting talent in the room, but they toil in relatively obscurity nationally and total obscurity on campus due to a complete lack of emphasis on marketing. This hurts the program both in terms of recruiting clout and in terms of their long term program sustainability.

 

Marketing your program and building some kind of promotable brand is an essential element of program success in this era. While hustling to the degree of marketing pioneers like JRob maybe expecting a bit too much, I don't think communicating with your fan base by updating your website once in awhile is too much to ask for.

 

Agree completely. The U of Illinois sports information office is dead when it comes to anything beyond Illini football and basketball. Part of the problem also has been the disinclination of the News-Gazette to report seriously on anything but the above mentioned and the Bears. The long-time sports guru, Loren Tate, expressed disdain for wrestling. This is a commonplace problem with many programs that do not maintain communication (and insist on it) with local media.

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I don't want to be critical of the Illini's lack of promotion and than pass-up this opportunity to promote the team. So here is my 2013-2014 Fighting Illini Season Preview:

 

Projected Starters:

 

125- Jesse Delgado- Jr.

Credentials: 2013 Big 10 and NCAA Champion, 2012 NCAA All-American, 2011 FILA Jr. National Freestyle Champ, 2011 National Collegiate Open Champion.

 

Delgado is currently the #1 ranked 125er in the country. His lightening quick offense from neutral remains as lethal as any in the game. Only Megaludis has shown the ability to slow his offense down.

 

Biggest Wins: Nico Megaludis 2x, Matt McDonough 3x, Nahshon Garrett

Toughest Losses: Dropped a bout to highly regarded true freshman Cory Clark last season.

 

Most Anticipated matches this season: Nico Megaludis split 4 bouts with Delgado last season. Megaludis has superb defense and flexibility making him one of the few guys in the country who can slow Delgado's high-octane offense down. He is probably the top threat to Delgado's crown. Cory Clark of Iowa is the only other man remaining in the NCAA who has defeated Delgado. He has great length to go with his hallmark Iowa grit. I am anxious to see these two lock horns again.

 

133- Zane Richards- RFr.

Credentials: 6x Fargo Finalist in HS, 3x Fargo National Greco Champion, 1x Fargo National Greco Runner-Up, 1 x Fargo National Freestyle Champion, 1x Fargo National Freestyle Runner-Up, FILA Cadet Freestyle National Champion

 

I love this kid’s makeup. He eats, sleeps, and breaths wrestling 24 hours/ day. He trains like a champion on a daily basis and battles Delgado regularly in the room. He completed a solid redshirt campaign and should be ready to make some noise in a very deep and talented 133 pound weight class.

 

Biggest Wins: Johnni DiJulius, Rossi Bruno, John Meeks

Toughest Losses: Richards lost to 7 guys during his redshirt campaign: John Morrison, Ladd Rupp, Daniel Dennis, Joe Colon, Randy Cruz, Jimmy Gulibon, and Mason Beckman.

 

Most Anticipated Match this season: With top dogs like Ramos and Graff perhaps a little out of reach, I believe the next tier of talent is squarely in his sights. I am anxious to see him wrestle fellow freshman Jimmy Gulibon of Penn State. Gulibon was regarded as the superior prospect coming out of HS and he defeated Richard 8-5 in the semifinals of the National Collegiate Open at the end of last season. This could be the first salvo in a nice 4 year rivalry between these two. From an Illinois standpoint, I am also excited about the possibility or Richards locking horns with fellow former Illinois HS star Chris Dardanes of Minnesota.

 

141- Stephen Rodrigues- So.

Credentials: Rodriguez was a HS state champion and Fargo All-American out of NY. He also won the 2012 FILA Junior Freestyle Nationals.

 

Rodrigues started his career at Cornell and transferred to Illinois. He won the FILA Juniors that summer and delivered a promising redshirt performance last year winning 30 matches. However, Rodrigues was thrust into the starting roll late when BJ Futrell went down with a season-ending injury. He really struggled through the Big 10 grind losing matches and appearing to lose confidence. His future as the Illini 141 starter may be somewhat up in the air now with Jon Fahy, a 4x state champ from Kentucky, showing promise and apparently cutting to 141 this season. Both are talented and show signs of being able to win at a high level. We'll see who step forward.

 

Biggest Wins: Josh Dziewa, Julian Feikert, Nick Hucke, Shayden Terkina

Toughest Losses: Scott Mattingly and Pat Greco (twice)

 

Most Anticipated Match-up this Season: Rodrigues needs to pass the middle tier of the Big 10 to solidify his spot as the Illini 141 pounder. I am anxious to see him square off with Josh Dziewa of Iowa, who he split 2 bouts with last year, Pat Greco of NU, to whom he lost 2 close bouts, and Zach Beitz of Penn State.

 

149-Caleb Ervin- So.

Credentials: 2013 NCAA Qualifier. 3x Kentucky HS State Champion, 2009 NHSCA National Champion.

 

Ervin won 22 bouts and qualified for the NCAAs as a Frosh leaving expectations pretty high for his sophomore season. Ervin is generating pre-season rankings somewhere around #15 which could put you in the R12 at NCAAs and in striking distance for an All-American honor. Ervin’s funky scrambling style makes him especially exciting to watch. He also has quite a personal story of grit and determination. While still in HS, Ervin caught himself on fire while burning brush and suffered 3rd degree burns over 30% of his body. He overcame this horrific accident to win another state title as a senior.

 

Biggest Wins: Dylan Ness, Josh Dziewa, Brody Grothus

Toughest Losses: Bart Reiter, Matt Mincey

Most Anticipated Match-up this Season: Another Illini starter who ranks somewhere in the middle of a very deep conference. His results against this middle group will dictate the success of his season. To this point, his match-up with Husker newcomer Destin McCauley is the match I am most anticipating. McCauley is a freestyle superstar and Ervin is pure folkstyler with funk and mat game.

 

157- Zac Brunson- RFr.

Credentials: 4x Oregon HS State Champion. Fargo National Freestyle Champion

 

Brunson steps into the lineup following a 29-6 redshirt season. Brunson does not appear to be a proto-typical explosive athlete yet he does an awful lot of winning. His M.O. reminds me much of Zane Richards. He is hyper-competitive and puts in tons of time in training and off-season competition. His redshirt season did not afford many matches against type top-flight competition. He did encounter 5 prior NCAA qualifiers, losing to Alex Dieringer, RJ Pena, Ian Miller, and Matt Lester while defeating Spartak Chino of Ohio. He is currently garnering preseason rankings around #20, which seems about right until we see him defeat a few more college-seasoned opponents.

 

Biggest Wins: Tommy Churchard, Spartak Chino, Joey Kielbasa

Toughest Losses: Disappointing loss to Dylan Cottrell at National Collegiate Open

 

Most Anticipated Match this Season: I am anxious to see how Brunson matches up with Big 10 talent. That being said, the conference opponents just ahead of him in the rankings include Taylor Walsh of Indiana and Isaac Jordan of Wisconsin.

 

165- Jackson Morse- Jr.

Credentials: 2011 NCAA Qualifier, 3x Michigan HS State Champion, 2 x Super 32 Champion

 

Morse registered 36 varsity wins and a trip to the big dance during first two seasons in Champaign before taking his redshirt last season and growing into the 165 pound class. He returns to the lineup as a seasoned veteran whom the Illini will look to for leadership and results. Morse gets things done with solid neutral wrestling and a nasty top game. After David Taylor, 165 is pretty wide open in the Big 10 leaving Morse with a solid opportunity to finish high in the conference. He is currently garnering preseason rankings around #20.

 

Biggest Wins: Josh Demas, Pierce Harger, Albert White, Danny Zilverberg,, Tyler Wilps

Toughest Losses: Isaac Jordan, Chris Moon at National Collegiate Open Semis

 

Most Anticipated Match this season: Fellow Michigan prep superstar Dan Yates returns to 165 pounds this season for the Wolverine. This should be a fun match-up with important implications in the national rankings.

 

174- Tony Dallago- Sr.

Credentials: 2011 NCAA Qualifier, 2012 NCAA Qualifier, 2013 NCAA Qualifier. Pennsylvania HS State Champion

 

Tony Dallago enters his senior campaign with 63 career wins at 184 pounds, including 5 victories at the NCAA tournament. Still, NCAA All-American honors have thus far eluded Dallago. He is dropping to 174 pounds for his senior year and once last chance at NCAA glory. 174 pounds is absolutely loaded at the top with Howe, Brown, Perry, Storely, Kokesh, and Evans, however, beyond this top handful the weight class opens up considerably and may afford Dallago a solid chance to finish on the podium in March. Dallago is super-funky and a really dangerous scrambler. He has 28 falls and will likely push his career number close to 40 by the end of the season which would make him the most prolific pinner in over 100 years of Fighting Illini wrestling.

 

Biggest Wins: Quentin Wright, AJ Kissel, Jake Swartz, Grant Gambrall

Toughest Losses: Shamous O’Grady last season

 

Most Anticipated Match this Season: So many exciting new match-ups at a new weight class. I am anxious to see Dallago wrestle Storely as they are both really hippy and dangerous scramblers. The Dallago vs Mike Evans match-up should be fun as well as both men excel on the mat.

 

184- Nikko Reyes- RFr.

Credentials: 2x California HS State Champion, 2011 NWCA National Champion, 2012 NWCA National Champion

 

Nikko Reyes is another young blue-chip recruit looking to solidify his spot in the Illini’s starting lineup. Reyes had a relatively quiet redshirt season and did not wrestle nearly as many redshirt matches as fellow freshman Zane Richards or Zac Brunson. When he did compete, his results were solid, but not eye-popping. Reyes registered a 7-1 record on the season and finished 2nd at the National Collegiate Open at 174 pounds. Still, he didn’t record a signature win in his 7 victories and dropped his finals match to Elliott Riddick of Lehigh after narrowly escaping Anthony Pafumi of Rutgers in the semifinals. This lack of quality redshirt wins coupled with his move up to 184 pounds leaves me somewhat unconvinced. I would not be totally surprised if Illini Junior Jeff Koepke pushes Reyes pretty hard for the starting spot. Koepke is a rugged full-sized 184 pounder with more experience and some nice wins under his belt. Koepke defeated both Sam Brooks and Alex Meyer of Iowa last season and finished a respectable 4th place the National Collegiate Open at 184 pounds. It will be interesting to see how Reyes responds the a push from Koepke.

 

Biggest Wins: Anthony Pafumi in the semifinals of the National Collegiate Open

Toughest Losses: Reyes’ only loss of the season was to Elliott Riddick of Lehigh

 

Most Anticipated Match this Season: Reyes is another highly credentialed young Illini grappler who must prove better than the middle of the Big 10 table to solidify his spot. This leaves me anticipating match-ups with guys like Max Huntley, Jackson Hein, and TJ Dudley as good measuring sticks for Reyes.

 

197- Mario Gonzalez- Sr.

Credentials: 2012 Big 10 Champion, 2012 NCAA Qualifier, 2013 NCAA Qualifier

 

Gonzalez is a complete enigma to me. He is talented enough to be the only Big 10 Champion in the room not named Jesse Delgado, yet at times he appears disinterested at best and unmotivated at worst. Gonzalez is a great athlete. He has terrific flexibility for a big man to go along with the requisite big-man power, but he wrestles “lazy” at times. For example, he seems to prefer to give up his hips and try to counter shots by scrambling, rather than doing the hard work to stuff the head and go-behind. If Gonzalez is truly motivated and commits to staying more solid, the sky could be the limit for this kid. I’m tabling any further opinion until I see which Mario shows up for the 2013-14 season.

 

Biggest Wins: Matt Powless, Christian Boley, Richard Perry, AJ Kissel, Sonny Yohn, Nathan Burak, Andrew Campolattano

Toughest Losses: Youngsters Nathan Burak and Kenny Courts last season

 

Most Anticipated Match this Season: Gonzalez has not yet hooked up with Morgan McIntosh. I’m looking forward to a good one there.

 

HVY- Chris Lopez- So.

Credentials: 2010 Fargo Junior National Runner-Up, 2011 Flo Nationals Runner-Up

 

Much like Stephen Rodriguez, Chris Lopez began last season with every intention of training, improving, and competing in open tournaments while he waited for a shot at the lineup behind an incumbent senior starter. Much like Stephen Rodriguez, an injury to that starter thrust Lopez into the starting role just in time for the grind of the Big 10 season. And much like Stephen Rodriguez, Lopez struggled against Big 10 competition. He dropped his final 9 bouts of the season and finished the year 11-16. On a positive note, every single one of those final 9 losses was to a nationally ranked opponent. Welcome to the Big 10, I guess. Lopez should be better prepared to deal with Big 10 life this season, however the heavyweight division remain absolutely stacked.

 

Biggest Wins: Cody Krumwiede, Chris Penny, Spencer Johnson

Toughest Losses: Kevin Malone

 

Most Anticipated Match this season: It is likely not realistic to expect Lopez to hang with the top 7 in the conference this year. That leaves him Spencer Johnson, Alex White, Nick Tavanello, and perhaps Adam Coon as potential prey. A Chris Lopez vs Adam Coon bout would peak my interest should Coon forego his redshirt season and jump right into Michigan’s lineup.

 

GENERAL STATE OF THE UNION:

Things are looking up for Illini Wrestling. The line-up is loaded with exciting, young, blue-chip talent and boasts a kid that was won a national title at some level at almost every weight class. Furthermore, there are more waiting in the wings. The Illini have 5 additional prep national champions in hand. Isaiah Martinez and Brooks Black are two prep national champions who will be redshirting in Champaign this season. HS Seniors Jered Cortez and Michael Pixley both committed to Illinois following their Fargo titles this summer. And recently Folkstyle National Champion Brock Ervin committed to Illinois. Other impressive reserves include the aforementioned Jon Fahy and Jeff Koepke, as well as, true freshman Kyle Langenderfer.

 

This influx of high-end recruits, the first individual national title since Matt Lackey, the top 4 finish at last years National Duals after defeating Cornell, and the creation of the senior level Illini Wrestling Club have all come to pass since Mark Perry arrived in Champaign two years ago. I only hope the Illini can secure Perry for a long, long, time. Illinois is a great school with a wrestling program on the cusp of greatness, a great staff, solid administrative support, first rate facilities, and a tremendous prep recruiting base. Hopefully, this is enough to keep Mark Perry right where he is. If he stays, this group could well bring home Illinois first top-4 NCAA trophy before they are done.

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