With a huge home victory over the Buckeyes, the Huskers finally got over the hump and jumped up to the No. 4 spot in the NWCA Coaches Poll.
Facing its fourth top Big Ten team in as many weeks to start conference play, then-No. 6 Nebraska was in need of a statement win if it wanted to hang out in the top 5. Sunday’s dual against No. 3 Ohio State afforded one of the Huskers’ final opportunities to make that happen after falling to No. 1 Iowa, No. 2 Penn State and No. 9 Wisconsin.
And the Huskers didn’t just win the dual, they ended things in dramatic fashion with a last-second pin by hobbled senior Isaiah White to win 19-14. The Huskers improved to 7-3 overall and 2-3 in Big Ten play, and with the big win jumped two spots and back into the upper echelon.
As far as the individual rankings go for the Huskers, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m perplexed by some of the rankings, based on this week’s performance. I definitely believe some of Nebraska’s wrestlers deserve to be ranked higher.
*Individual rankings according to InterMat
125 - Unranked
Redshirt freshman Alex Thomsen is riding a three-match win streak and has put on some impressive performances as of late, but all three of those wins were against unranked opponents. Thomsen needs to beat a ranked opponent now to get into the rankings with a meager 9-9 record, but he gets that shot on Friday night against Purdue’s No. 6 Devin Schroder (22-4).
133 - Dropped 1
Freshman Ridge Lovett (10-6) dropped a spot to No. 14 despite a win over a top-20 opponent. Lovett is on a two-match win streak after beating fellow freshman phenom, then-No. 19 Jordan Decatur. So if Lovett keeps winning, he has a chance at jumping into the top 10 soon enough.
141 - Unchanged
No. 8 Chad Red Jr. (12-6) lost to top-ranked Luke Pletcher of Ohio State by major decision for the second time this season, and it seems Red just isn’t at that level yet. He’s 1-4 against top-10 guys this season and he has work to do in a stacked 141-pound division in the Big Ten.
149 - Dropped 2
Senior Collin Purinton (12-6) fell to newly-minted top 149-pounder Sammy Sasso of Ohio State. The freshman Buckeye has been on a tear as of late and continued it with the major decision against Purinton. In all actuality, Purinton wrestled Sasso tough, even putting himself in a position to win the match in the third period before Sasso finished him off with a takedown and four near-fall points. Purinton didn’t fall far, but legitimately being in the match in the third round against Sasso is impressive, giving Purinton a really “good loss”.
157 - Dropped 2
Redshirt freshman Peyton Robb (14-4) has hit a wall of sorts, going 2-2 in his last four matches with his losses coming to ranked opponents. Robb falls to No. 18 and is looking for a bounce-back win when he takes on Purdue’s seventh-ranked Kendall Coleman.
165 - Dropped 1
Senior Isaiah White (13-3) took down No. 14 Ethan Smith with a last-second pin over the weekend to win the dual for Nebraska, but it wasn’t enough to hold onto his No. 4 spot. He slipped to No. 5 despite the win due to undefeated freshman Shane Griffith (22-0) of Stanford taking out sixth-ranked Josh Shields of Arizona State. Griffith now occupies the No. 4 spot, while White fell to No. 5.
174 - Unchanged
Sophomore Mikey Labriola (15-5) used a last-second takedown to beat No. 7 Kaleb Romero of Ohio State on Sunday, and despite the top-10 win, Labriola holds steady at No. 6. He’ll get his chance at a serious jump with a matchup against Purdue’s 4th-ranked Dylan Lydy (26-1) on Friday.
184 - Dropped 3
Taylor Venz (12-7) continues his slide down the rankings with his recent struggles, including his 3-2 loss to unranked Rocky Jordan of Ohio State. The junior, who dropped three spots to No. 11 has lost three of his last four matches, and needs some wins to right the ship.
197 - Went up 1
Oddly enough, after such a big team win, the only Husker to move up in the rankings was junior Eric Schultz who moved up to No. 5, despite coming off a loss. Schultz (17-3) dropped his first dual match of the year against top-ranked Kollin Moore, the odds-on favorite to win an NCAA title this year. Schultz lost 5-2, making it one of the closest matches Moore has been in all year.
285 - Unchanged
Christian Lance (9-6) remains in the rankings at No. 16 despite having his starting spot taken by fellow senior David Jensen (12-3). Lance has lost six of his last seven matches, while Jensen has gone 2-0 in duals since taking the starting spot back. In fact, Jensen has lost only one match since November 2019 (9-1 record since then). Interestingly enough, that lone setback came at the hands of Tanner Farmer, the former Husker offensive lineman who is now competing in wrestling for Concordia after finding out he had eligibility remaining. Farmer defeated Jensen 8-5 in finals of the Hastings College Invite in January.
Next up for Nebraska
Nebraska travels to face No. 14 Purdue on Friday night before going to Indiana to face the Hoosiers on Sunday afternoon.