Ramos' pivotal pin fuels No. 2 Iowa's victory against eighth-ranked Illinois
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Second-ranked Iowa used pins from Tony Ramos and Bobby Telford to defeat No. 8 Illinois 25-12 inside Huff Hall. The win gives Iowa (17-1, 7-0) at least a share of the Big Ten regular season championship. The Hawkeyes can clinch the title outright with a win against No. 13 Nebraska on Sunday.
Iowa won only six of 10 bouts, but used bonus points at 133, 157 and 285 to separate themselves from the Illini (6-5, 2-5).
"We can't let guys hang on and let the clock run against us," head coach Tom Brands said. "There was too much clinging and too much stickiness. We can't allow them to slow us down, and too many times [Friday] that's what we did."
Illinois started fast when Jesse Delgado upset top-ranked Matt McDonough 9-4 at 125, but the Hawkeyes counterpunched with a fall at 133 from No. 2 Tony Ramos. Ramos and 10th-ranked Daryl Thomas wrestled through a scoreless first period before Ramos scored an escape and takedown in the second period to take a 3-0 lead into the third. Ramos totaled three more takedowns in the final period and was working on nearfall points when he flattened Thomas with 24 seconds remaining.
"[Matt McDonough] came out with a game plan against me and I had to make adjustments," Ramos said following his eighth pin of the season. "I could tell he was beginning to wear down and I didn't want to hesitate. I just opened up."
Mark Ballweg used an escape and a 1:55 riding time to battle to a 2-0 win at 141, edging Iowa's lead to 9-3. Illinois then answered with a 5-0 win at 149 to trim the Hawkeyes' lead to 9-6.
Derek St. John swung the momentum back in Iowa's favor when he piled up nine takedowns and 3:45 of riding time in a 20-8 major decision at 157 pounds.
The Hawkeyes took a 13-6 lead into intermission, but Illinois fired back out of the break when No. 8 Conrad Polz topped No. 13 Nick Moore 7-3 at 165 pounds. The Illlini's third win cut Iowa's lead to 13-9 before Mike Evans scored a 2-1 decision versus No. 8 Jordan Blanton. After a scoreless first period, Evans grabbed a 1-0 lead with a second-period escape. He then rode Blanton for 1:59 in the third period to secure the riding-time point, give Iowa a 16-9 team lead, and earning his third win of the season against a top-10 opponent.
Ethen Lofthouse answered Evans' win with two takedowns, one reversal, a pair of nearfall points and 1:49 of riding time to earn a 9-5 win against No. 20 Tony Dallago. Lofthouse' s third win of the season versus a ranked foe extended Iowa's lead to 19-9 with two matches to go.
No. 15 Mario Gonzalez cut the lead to 19-12 with a 3-1 win against Nathan Burak, but his lack of bonus points clinched the dual for Iowa with one match to go.
Bobby Telford capped the victory with a first-period pin against Chris Lopez at 285. Telford finished an early slide-by and was working on back points when he finished the fall at the 2:32 mark. The pin was his fifth of the season.