Illini Wrestling Looks to Bounce Back

by Will Charlton

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Illinois wrestling team has two very important Big Ten duals coming up this weekend. 

On Friday night they will welcome in the Minnesota Golden Gophers to State Farm Center in their second to last home dual of the season. Then Sunday afternoon they will welcome in the Indiana Hoosiers for senior day.

The Illini are currently riding on a four-match losing streak which dates back to their loss in Piscataway, New Jersey, to #17 Rutgers on January 14th, and they currently hold a 2-4 overall record along with being winless thus far in Big Ten play at 0-4. 

The other three losses came against #2 Iowa, #17 Purdue, and most recently on this past Saturday Northwestern, who hadn’t beat the Illini in a dual since 2019.

Getting out to 6-0 lead was not enough to propel the Illini to a victory, as the Wildcats ended up wining 26-13; but there are some bright spots to be noted regardless of the loss. 

In the four out of ten bouts the Illini won, the Braunagel twins- Zac and Danny- each picked up a win. Lucas Byrd and Dylan Duncan were the other two who picked up wins for the Illini.

Photo courtesy of @IlliniWrestling twitter.

Coming up Friday night against Minnesota will be a great opportunity to get back in the win column against a team that is struggling themselves.

The Gophers currently have a 3-4 record while on a two-match losing streak; they do have two quality wins in the Big Ten against Northwestern and Nebraska though, and both were ranked at the time the Gophers won. 

A win against Indiana on Sunday would be very big for the Illini too, since like Minnesota, Indiana is struggling too. 

The Hoosiers are 1-4 in the Big Ten, and are recently coming off a very close loss to #17 Purdue 17-16, who also beat the Illini earlier this season. 

So far, the Hoosiers only Big Ten win came against Maryland.

Generally speaking, the Illini have two duals coming up against very equal opponents in which they can swing their season around and get back to .500 at 4-4; but their season could be in jeopardy if they were to lose one of them.

Story photo courtesy of Fighting Illini Athletics

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