WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Illinois wrestling team was within striking distance of Purdue after the first four games of Friday night’s Big Ten duel.
Then the host Boilermakers got off to a good start, winning four of the last six games and giving the visiting Illini a 25-13 loss at Holloway Gymnasium.
Purdue led 8-6 to four games after Illinois took victories from Lucas Byrd 133 (5-0 decision against Matt Ramos) and Christian Kanzler 149 (3-1 decision against Alec White). It was Byrd’s team-leading 13 win of the season.
Centennial graduate Justin Cardani dropped a low-scoring game at 125 as Boilermakers’ Devin Schroder held on for a 1-0 win, while Parker Filius also won – this time by technical fall – to give Purdue five points after beating We Rachal 16 -0 to 141 in 4 minutes, 52 seconds.
The Illini dropped matches with 157 (Joe Roberts), 165 (Danny Braunagel), 174 (DJ Shannon) and 197 (Nikita Nepomnyashchiy), with Gerrit Nijenhuis’ victory against Shannon in two minutes proving to be the most consistent result.
Zac Braunagel at 184 and Luke Luffman at heavyweight accounted for Illinois’ two upper-weight wins, with Braunagel claiming a 5-2 decision and Luffman – an Urbana graduate – ending with a 10-2 win by a key decision.
Illinois (2-3) will next be in action on January 29 when the Illini hosts Northwestern at the State Farm Center.
Nettle shines. Kenli Nettles’ debut was well worth the wait.
The area standout — who won three IHSA state titles as a junior with Arthur-Lovington/Atwood-Hammond — moved to Illinois after a semester in Iowa in 2020 and battled injury before making her college debut at Friday’s Illini Invitational, contested at the UI Armory in Champaign.
On Friday, Nettles took a women’s pentathlon with 3,126 points after winning three of the five events, including the 60-meter hurdles (9.20 seconds), high jump (1.62 meters) and long jump (5.13 meters).
“It was a big day for Kenli,” said Illinois coach Mike Turk. “Not so much because of the performance, but the fact that she was even able to participate is a testament to her determination. I am so happy with her return to the competition. She can help us.”
In the men’s heptathlon, junior Alexander Babbington leads de Illini through four events and is in third place with 3,004 points.
In women’s basketball
Illini got away. Illinois plays on Sunday. Just not at State Farm Center.
The Illini (6-10, 1-4 Big Ten) were scheduled to host Nebraska (13-4, 2-4) in Champaign at 2 p.m., but the game has been postponed due to COVID-19 issues within Cornhuskers’ schedule.
But Illinois gets another game on Sunday, albeit in a different state. The Illini, who has lost two games in a row, will now travel to play at No. 25 Iowa (11-4, 5-1) in a 5 p.m. tip at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.
The Illini and Hawkeyes were initially scheduled to play on January 2 before the game was moved due to COVID-19 issues within the Illini program.
In women’s tennis
Schedule shuffles. Illinois is still scheduled to play twice on Sunday at Atkins Tennis Center, just not against the same two in-state foes it was scheduled to face.
The Illini (2-1) hosts Eastern Illinois at 12:00 PM and Chicago State at 4:00 PM
The match with EIU is different as Illinois was supposed to play in Northern Illinois, but COVID-19 issues within the Huskies program caused the rescheduling.