Nebraska brought a load of wrestlers to Coralville, Iowa to compete in freestyle wrestling at the 2020 US Senior National Championships.
Bringing along a load of freshmen, Nebraska’s wrestlers picked up some valuable experience against senior-level opponents. Out of Nebraska’s 16 wrestlers, two survived Saturday and will be guaranteed a top-8 finish on Sunday.
Eric Schultz, a senior for the Huskers, went 2-1 on the day and will take part in the consolation quarterfinal round on Sunday. The No. 12-seed at 97 kg, Schultz beat two wrestlers seeded higher than him going into the tournament. He started the tournament with a 10-6 win over 5-seed Benjamin Honis before getting pinned by 4-seed Kyven Gadson in the quarterfinal round. Schultz then downed 10-seed Scottie Boykin 12-10 in an intense back-and-forth match. Schultz will start Sunday’s action against 11-seed Lucas Davison in the consolation quarterfinal round.
Christian Lance also advances to Sunday’s consolation semifinal. The unseeded Husker at 125 kg, Lance lost his first match against 2-seed Mason Parris in a tight 9-4 decision before earning a pair of close wins to advance. He first beat 10-seed Zach Elam 5-3 before downing Demetrius Thomas 5-4 with a late takedown. Lance will face 8-seed Daniel Chaid in Sunday’s consolation quarterfinal.
At 65 kg, 14-seed Husker senior Chad Red Jr. started things with a razor-thin loss to Iowa State’s Ian Parker. Red lost to Parker 6-6 on criteria, sending him to the consolation bracket. Red won his next two matches quickly by tech fall and pinfall, respectively. He then downed 10-seed Sean Fausz 10-7. Red scored another tech fall with a 12-2 win over Ethan Lizak, but top-seeded Joey McKenna proved to be too much for Red. McKenna, the four-time All-American and NCAA finalist for Ohio State, downed Red 14-4 by tech fall. Red finished with a 4-2 record on the day.
Also at 65 kg, the unseeded Husker redshirt freshman Kevon Davenport looked impressive. After falling to top-seeded McKenna 11-0 by tech fall in his first match, Davenport fired off a pair of tech-fall wins over unseeded opponents in the consolation bracket. Next up was none other than a two-time NCAA champion in 9-seed Dean Heil. Davenport looked impressive against Heil, collecting an eventual 9-1 victory. Afterwards, announcing “That’s how you take out a National Champ baby!” as he went by the camera.
Davenport’s tournament came to an abrupt end in the next round however, as he lost 10-1 to Ian Parker. Davenport went 3-2 on the day.
Two other Huskers competed at 65 kg as well. Jevon Parrish went 1-2 with his win coming via tech fall over Joshua Brown. Christian Miller went 0-2 on the day.
Senior Taylor Venz paced the Huskers at 86 kg. The 12-seed Venz came from behind to win his opening match 9-6 before falling to 5-seed Drew Foster 12-0 by tech fall. In the consolation bracket, Venz earned two more victories before losing to 6-seed David McFadden 16-8. Venz finished the tournament with a 3-2 record.
Junior Mikey Labriola was the 11-seed at 86 kg for Nebraska. In his first matchup, Labriola got caught in a leg lace and got rolled in a 19-8 loss by tech fall. In the consolation bracket, Labriola won two straight by tech fall before losing to 8-seed Max Dean 11-0 in the first period by tech fall. Labriola finished with a 2-2 record.
Also at 86 kg for Nebraska were a pair of incoming freshmen in Nathan Haas and Brandyn Van Tassell. Haas, a star recruit out of California, won his first match 9-3 over Kenneth Prince before falling to 2-seed Gabe Dean by pinfall in the round of 16. Haas then fell in the consolation bracket by tech fall to end his tournament with a 1-2 record. Van Tassell, who like Brock Hardy is coming back to wrestling from a two-year LDS mission, looked solid. He lost 12-2 to 8-seed Max Dean before earning a tech fall over Kadeem Samuels in the consolation bracket. Van Tassell then lost a close 5-3 decision to end his tournament with a 1-2 record.
In what seemed like a pattern for the Huskers on Saturday, their two wrestlers at 57 kg took first-round losses. Both incoming true freshmen, Jeremiah Reno and Dominick Serrano each were unseeded and both finished with 2-2 records on the day. Reno took part in the day’s highest scoring match when he lost to Brady Teske 23-14. Both of Reno’s wins were by tech fall, while Serrano’s two wins were by tech fall and pinfall.
Unseeded Caleb Licking went 2-2 on the day at 74 kg, while two other Husker heavyweights competed along with Lance. Cale Davidson went 0-2 on the day, while Landon Brown went 1-2 with a 4-0 win over Ben Golden.
At 97 kg, incoming freshman Silas Allred finished with an 0-2 record.
Former Husker Collin Purinton was registered to compete at 74 kg but didn’t participate. It is unclear as to why he wasn’t able to wrestle.
Keep an eye on Corn Nation tomorrow for more coverage of Nebraska’s final day at Senior Nationals as well as some analysis on what we learned about this Husker team this weekend.