CHAMPAGNE, Fig. – The #15-ranked Illini wrestling is slated for a couple of weekend games, opening the Big Ten competition at No. 17 Rutgers on Friday night, followed by the team’s No. 2 Iowa home opener at State Farm Center on Sunday afternoon. Friday night’s dual against the Scarlet Knights kicks off at 6pm CT and will be streamed on BTN+ ($), with Sunday afternoon starting at 3pm CT on the Big Ten Network.
With the recent increase in COVID-19 cases on the University of Illinois campus and throughout the Central Illinois region, the university will provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative testing protocol for all university sponsored events that be open to the public with more than 200 in attendance as of January 1, 2022. All guests 12 years of age and older entering State Farm Center, including media, staff, and premium seating, must provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination OR a negative COVID -19 PCR or rapid test taken within 72 hours of the event in the arena.
*Intermat Team Dual Rankings
- Justin Cardani (125) and Lucas Byrd (133) each took first place at the Matmen Open on December 29-30. Luke Luffman (285), Zac Braunagel (184), we Rachel (141), Danny Braunagel (165) and christian chancellor (149) each finished in the top eight in their respective weight divisions.
- The Illini finished in fourth place out of 21 teams, earning 105 team points at the Matmen Open.
- The Illini won their first two games of the season on December 11, beating UT-Chattanooga and SIU-Edwardsville
- First year head coach Mike Poeta scored his first career win on December 11, a 19-12 win over UT-Chattanooga
- Mike Bosco (285) won the freshman/sophomore division at the Lindenwood Open on November 20, his first collegiate tournament.
- Danny Pucino (141) and Joe Roberts (157) each took fourth place in the Open Division in their respective weight divisions at the Lindenwood Open. Caden Ernd (174), Dylan Connell (184) and Joey Braunagel (197) each placed in the top six in the freshman/sophomore division.
- Justin Cardani (125), Lucas Byrd (133), Christian Kanzler (149) and Luke Luffman (285) each took third place in their respective weight divisions to start the season at the MSU Open on November 6.
- Danny Braunagel (165) and Matt Wroblewski (197) both took fourth place at the MSU Open in their respective weight divisions, while DJ Shannon (174) took sixth.
- Freshman Dylan Connell (184) and Joey Braunagel (197) both took second in the freshman/sophomore division at the MSU Open, while Caden Ernd was sixth.
- The Illini are currently ranked #23 in the NWCA Coaches Poll.
- Illinois returns 2021 All-Americans and fifth-place finishers Lucas Byrd (133 lbs) and Dylan Duncan (141 lbs).
- 2021 NCAA Qualifiers Lucas Byrd, Dylan Duncan, Danny Braunagel, Zac Braunagel and Luke Luffman will all return for the Illini this season.
- Nine starters will return to the expected grid for the 2021-22 season. The Illini will welcome eight newcomers this season, including two transfers in Anthony Federico (Fresno State) and Luke Rasmussen (North Dakota State).
- Illinois is led by freshman head coach Mike Poeta, who previously spent five years as an assistant coach of the Fighting Illini before taking over as head coach in April 2021.
- Ed Ruth begins his first year as an assistant coach with the Illini wrestling program. Ruth (Penn State ’14) was a three-time NCAA champion and four-time Big Ten champion weighing 184 pounds.
- For all future home gatherings beginning in 2022, Illinois will compete at the State Farm Center after previously meeting at Huff Hall.
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