A look back at the countdown so far:
Determining a wrestler’s ceiling can be a difficult proposition, especially when you consider that Nebraska’s wrestlers are at different points in their careers. So different criteria will be used based on what each wrestler has accomplished as well as potential and time left in the program.
For instance, a senior-to-be who’s already secured All-American honors has hit a certain level and maybe has shown more definitively what his ceiling is. On the other hand, an incoming freshman hasn’t accomplished anything at the collegiate level, but their experience and accolades in high school and on the junior circuit can generally give a good indication of how good they can be in college.
Continuing our Top 10 Huskers with the highest ceilings, we move on to senior All-American Chad Red Jr.
No. 6 Chad Red Jr.
Coming into Nebraska, Chad Red Jr. had extremely high expectations. He was the No. 1 wrestler in the country at 132 pounds and was the No. 5 pound-for-pound wrestler. Not only did Red win four state titles at New Palestine High School in Indiana with a perfect 183-0 record, he also excelled nationally. He won the 2014 Super 32 title, the 2014 Fargo Cadet National Championship, and the 2015 FloNationals tournament.
He even beat out Nick Lee for the state title in their final match as seniors (video below). Lee is currently one of the best 141-pounders in the country for Penn State.
On his career, Red holds a 67-32 record and has earned All-American status twice in as many trips to nationals. He’s a three-time NCAA qualifier and goes into this coming season ranked No. 6 in the country at 141 pounds.
Red redshirted his first season on campus and he finished with a 19-3 record, so he took over the job at 141 pounds during his redshirt freshman season. He went 26-11 in his first season as a starter, but he struggled against ranked opponents, going just 2-8 against them over the season.
After a seventh-place finish at the Big Ten Championships, Red had an impressive NCAA tournament. The unseeded Red dropped his first-round matchup to 7-seed Brock Zacherl of Clarion 4-2, but he went on a run through the consolation bracket after that. After three straight decision victories, Red faced off against defending two-time NCAA champion Dean Heil of Oklahoma State in the round of 12. Red pulled a big move against Heil and pinned him at the 2:22 mark. After falling in the consolation quarterfinal, Red pinned Eastern Michigan’s Sa’Derian Perry to finish in seventh place, securing All-American honors.
As a sophomore, Red finished with a 22-14 record but still struggled against ranked opponents, especially during the regular season when he went 1-6 against ranked foes. Red got off to a rocky start that year with three losses to unranked opponents before the dual season.
But leave it to Chad Red to turn it up a notch when the postseason arrives.
At the Big Ten Championships, the 8-seed Red started things off with a win by pinfall before avenging a pair of regular season losses. Red beat No. 5 Mikey Carr of Illionis 8-4 in the quarterfinal before beating No. 6 Kanen Storr of Michigan 4-1 in the semifinal round. In the final, Red lost his second match of the season to Ohio State’s third-ranked Joey McKenna to finish as the Big Ten runner-up at 141 pounds.
At the NCAA tournament, the 16-seed Red pinned Iowa State’s Ian Parker in 3:59. After a second-round 7-3 loss to top-seeded and eventual national champion Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell, Red reeled off three straight wins, including a win over Storr 8-1 before downing Iowa’s Max Murin 4-1. Red lost his final two matches to finish in 8th place, thus securing All-American honors for the second straight year.
This past season, Red was a leader for the Huskers but still struggled against top-tier competition. He dropped a match to No. 2 Dom Demas of Oklahoma, lost twice to No. 1 Luke Pletcher of Ohio State, and fell to Penn State’s No. 2 Nick Lee. He did however beat Iowa’s No. 5-ranked Max Murin in a dual (video below).
Despite his consistent regular season struggles, Red was again rounding into form once the postseason came around.
At the Big Tens, Red scored a first-round major decision win before downing Wisconsin’s Tristan Moran 9-4, revenge for a regular season loss the Badger gave the Husker. In the semifinal round, Red met up with Lee for the third time as college wrestlers and fell just short of a comeback bid with Lee winning 7-5 to advance to the final. Red then beat Iowa’s Murin again 3-1 before downing Moran again (this time a 12-3 major decision) to finish in third place.
Chad Red is affectionately knows in wrestling circles as Mr. March because he seems to underperform in the regular season before hitting his peak in March at the conference and national tournaments. Red had earned the No. 6 seed at the NCAA tournament that was inevitably cancelled. It’s certainly easy to think that with the way Red was wrestling, that he would have definitely earned his third All-American honor and possibly even contended for an NCAA title. We’ll never know, but at least we have one more year to watch Chad Red take the mat for the Huskers.
The No. 6-ranked wrestler at 141, Red has faced three of the five wrestlers ranked above him and has only beaten one (Parker of Iowa State is currently ranked No. 5), so he’ll have to prove he can hang with guys like Nick Lee (Red is 0-3 against him in college since his state title win) and Yianni Diakomihalis if he wants to win a conference title or a national championship. I have high expectations for Red in his final season, but the Big Ten this year at 141 pounds is a goliath.
Most recently, Red finished with a 4-2 record at the 2020 Senior National Championships in freestyle at 65 kg.