MADISON - The Wisconsin wrestling team gave No.14 Illinois all it could handle. But, ultimately, it wasn’t enough.
The Illini escaped the UW Field House with a 21-13 win in a Big Ten dual on Sunday afternoon, handing the Badgers their fifth straight loss.
Wisconsin got out to a 4-0 lead thanks to a major decision by Johnny Jimenez at 125 pounds. The win marked the first lead for the Badgers (1-5, 0-4 Big Ten) since the season opener against UW-Whitewater back in Nov.12.
Illinois (11-4, 2-4) answered with a win from Zane Richards at 133 pounds. The second-ranked Richards edged No.7 Ryan Taylor 5-4 by virtue of riding time advantage.
UW extended its lead to 10-3 thanks to wins from Luke Rowh (141) and Andrew Crone (149).
Rowh earned his first Big Ten win of the year with a 4-2 decision over Mousa Jodeh.
“Today was a good day because I hadn’t been wrestling the way I wanted to the last few matches,” Rowh said. “It was good to go out there and just get a win - build some of that confidence up. I can feel the stuff we’ve been working on is a factor in why I won today.”
Crone topped Kyle Langenderfer 8-6 for his first conference win of the year.
A tech fall from No.2 Isaiah Martinez at 157 pounds helped the Illini draw within two at intermission.
The 165-pound weight class brought about the day’s other touted matchup as No.3 Isaac Jordan topped No.4 Steven Rodrigues 5-2. With the win, Jordan improved to 16-0 on the year and pushed the Badgers’ edge to 13-8.
From there, Illinois rallied to win the final four bouts and capture the dual meet victory.
No.2 Zac Brunson blanked Seth Liegel 8-0 at 174 pounds. Liegel was forced into action after starter Ricky Robertson was scratched due to illness.
Ryan Christensen (184) and Eric Peissig (197) each lost their matches by decision, putting Wisconsin down five heading to heavyweight.
Needing a pin to win it for the Badgers, Brock Horwath fell to Brooks Black 4-2.
Illinois held the advantage in total takedowns by a 16-10 margin.
Wisconsin head coach Barry Davis was pleased to see the number of takedowns increase after the Badgers managed just four in their last dual against Iowa over three weeks ago.
“We wrestled a lot more aggressively, I think,” Davis said. “The break has been good for us. We came out more aggressive. We got into our ties and won some matches.”
However, the Badgers did not record a takedown in the final four matches of the dual.
“Toward the end there, we just didn’t perform at the level we need to perform at,” Davis said. “We need to get around the corner on our shots and finish and put ourselves in scoring situations. The lack of those situations kind of cost us. Who knows, if we win some of those matches, we probably win the dual meet.”
Wisconsin returns to action Friday when it travels to No.8 Rutgers (13-3, 3-2).
The Badgers return home Sunday to entertain No.16 Minnesota (7-7, 3-3).
No.14 Illinois 21, Wisconsin 13
125: Johnny Jimenez (WIS) maj. dec. Francis Edelen, 13-3
133: No.2 Zane Richards (ILL) dec. No.7 Ryan Taylor, 5-4
141: Luke Rowh (WIS) dec. Mousa Jodeh, 4-2
149: Andrew Crone (WIS) dec. Kyle Langenderfer, 8-6
157: No.2 Isaiah Martinez (ILL) tf. TJ Ruschell, 16-1
165: No.3 Isaac Jordan (WIS) dec. No.4 Steven Rodrigues, 5-2
174: No.2 Zac Brunson (ILL) maj. dec. Seth Liegel, 8-0
184: No.19 Jeff Koepke (ILL) dec. Ryan Christensen, 9-3
197: Andre Lee (ILL) dec. Eric Peissig, 7-3
HWT: Brooks Black (ILL) dec. Brock Horwath, 4-2