A look back at the countdown:
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 incoming freshman Dominick Serrano.
No. 1 Dominick Serrano
I know it’s crazy to list the wrestler with the highest ceiling as an incoming freshman that hasn’t taken the mat with a Husker singlet. The Huskers are a Top-5 team with a solid roster, but I honestly believe that the wrestler with the greatest career potential on the roster will probably spend the year on the bench redshirting.
Incoming freshman Dominick Serrano out of Windsor High School in Colorado will wrestle at 133 pounds for the Huskers. With returning NCAA qualifier Ridge Lovett set to start at 133 pounds this season, Serrano will almost assuredly redshirt before coming in for the 2021-22 season to help replace at least four graduating starters. There’s always the chance he throws his hat in the ring at 125 as well.
Serrano comes in as one of Nebraska’s most accomplished high school recruits in some time. He was ranked No. 2 at 132 pounds by all recruiting services after winning four straight Colorado state titles, finishing off an undefeated 168-0 career with a 22-8 win by major decision (video below) in the state final. He was the second Colorado high school wrestler ever to go undefeated with four state championships. 122 of his 168 career wins came by either pinfall or technical fall.
Outside of high school action, Serrano was a force nationally. In 2017 as a sophomore, Serrano finished second at the USMC Cadet Freestyle National Championships in Fargo, N.D. The next year, Serrano won his Cadet title in Fargo. In a 93-wrestler bracket stocked with top-shelf talent, Serrano went 7-0 and outscored his opponents 68-1 on the way to his title. He also won the 2018 FloNationals Tournament at 120 pounds in folkstyle.
In 2019, Serrano earned All-American honors at the prestigious Super 32 tournament while also earning his second straight Fargo title, this time in the Junior division. Serrano again went 7-0, outscoring his opponents 74-3 with all seven wins by technical fall.
Here’s Serrano winning his second straight title at Fargo.
Most recently, we’ve seen Serrano compete against the best in the country at both Senior Nationals and Junior Nationals in October and November, respectively. Serrano competed at 57 kg (125 pounds) at Senior Nationals before wrestling at 61 kg (134 pounds) at Juniors. Serrano went 2-2 at the senior level and finished 3-2 at Junior Nationals.
Here’s Serrano showing off some strong work at Senior Nationals.
Looking ahead at Serrano and the team around him in Lincoln, it’s easy to see where he fits in. This season Chad Red Jr. will exhaust his eligibility at 141 pounds while the sophomore Lovett mans the 133-pounds spot and Serrano redshirts. Serrano should enter the starting lineup at 133 pounds in 2021-22 when Lovett inevitably moves up to 141 to replace Red.
With a redshirt season or at least a season to sit behind an established wrestler, Serrano will benefit greatly from a year in the Husker training and weight rooms. I anticipate him being solid from day one with a rapid growth to dominance.
Of anyone on the roster, Serrano has the best overall chance to grab conference and NCAA titles.