Nebraska went out and flexed its collective muscles with a dominant win over a top-15 team.
The No. 4-ranked Nebraska wrestling team (8-3, 3-3 Big Ten) took out No. 14 Purdue (11-5, 4-4) by a score of 31-9 Friday night in Mackey Arena. Nebraska secured two wins by pinfall, one by injury default and another by major decision to rack up the bonus points.
Nebraska’s performance against a very good Purdue squad was a statement that the Huskers should be considered among the elite teams and pose a real threat in the postseason.
On with the breakdown…
*InterMat individual rankings used
Nebraska’s freshman Alex Thomsen took on No. 6 Devin Schroder. After appearing to control the action in the beginning of Round 1, Thomsen gave up a takedown to Schroder near the end of the period. Schroder got another takedown in the second period and proceeded to ride Thomsen to rack up riding time. After a quick escape to start the third, Schroder got another takedown to go up 7-1. The Boilermaker cut Thomsen loose, a point for Thomsen for the escape, and was looking for another takedown for a major decision (win by between 8-14 points). Thomsen was able to stave off the onslaught to end the match, denying Schroder a bonus-point win, instead the Boilermaker took an 8-2 victory.
Team Score: Purdue 3, Nebraska 0
Nebraska freshman Ridge Lovett (No. 14) faced off against fellow freshman Travis Ford-Meltan in an action-packed match. Seconds in, Ford-Meltan went for a body-lock throw, Lovett tried to reverse it, and the two rolled across the mat in a mad scramble with the Boilermaker coming out on top for the two-point takedown. Lovett immediately escaped and went into the second period down 2-1. Ford-Meltan again tried for his signature throw, but Lovett was able to score a takedown with an inside trip into a headlock, putting Ford-Meltan on his back to collect nearfall points. Lovett then put his fellow freshman down for the pin at the 3:57 mark in the match, giving the Huskers a big six-point bonus-point victory.
Team Score: Nebraska 6, Purdue 3
No. 13 Ridge Lovett doesn't quit— Nebraska On BTN (@NebraskaOnBTN) February 8, 2020
He gets the pin and the 6 points for No. 11 @HuskerWrestling. pic.twitter.com/zHgAcCBt0h
Nebraska was prepared to wrestle eighth-ranked Chad Red Jr., but it appeared that with the Lovett pin, the Huskers were able to sit Red and still feel confident in a dual win. Instead, senior Zak Hensley (7-3), a 133-pounder on the Husker roster, took to the mat to face Parker Filius. Filius, a solid Big Ten wrestler holding a size advantage, turned out to be too much for Hensley to handle. After scoring an escape in the first period after a Filius takedown, Hensley was outscored 4-0 for the remainder of the match to lose 6-1. Despite the loss, Hensley performed admirably. The Husker moved up a weight class against a seasoned opponent and didn’t give up bonus points. Sometimes that’s a win.
Team Score: Nebraska 6, Purdue 6.
Nebraska’s No. 16 Collin Purinton took on Purdue’s No. 18 Griffin Parriott in the day’s first matchup of ranked opponents. Purinton was comfortably out front the entire match, as he scored a takedown and two nearfall points in the first period before scoring five more points in the second to go up 9-3. In the third period, Purinton scored another takedown to go up 11-4 (12-4 after factoring in the riding-time point) which would have given Purinton a bonus-point victory, but the Boilermaker scored a reversal with 20 seconds left in the match to cut the senior’s lead to seven, giving Purinton the 13-6 decision.
Team Score: Nebraska 9, Purdue 6
Nebraska’s No. 18-ranked Peyton Robb took the mat against No. 7 Kendall Coleman at 157 pounds. Coleman has been on a tear lately and is extremely quick, so Robb spent the entirety of the match positioned extremely low, oftentimes putting one hand on the ground to defend the lower leg shots. Early in the first period, Peyton Robb scored on a low single-leg takedown. After a quick Coleman escape, Robb was up 2-1.
Near the end of the second, Coleman and Robb both shot in at the same time and collided head to head, which is significant because after a quick Robb escape to go up 3-1 in the third period, the two collided again. This time, Coleman was slow to get up and appeared to wobble, causing him to be taken off the mat for concussion protocol. It was determined Coleman couldn’t continue, and since the collision was incidental, Robb added six team points for the win by injury default.
Team Score: Nebraska 15, Purdue 6
At 165, I was surprised to see senior Isaiah White (No. 5) take the mat after suffering an ankle injury early in his win against Ohio State last week. Taking on Tanner Webster with a 3-10 record, White made quick work of the overmatched Boilermaker. The Husker senior won his second straight match by pinfall, putting Webster on his back in just 1 minute, 12 seconds.
Team Score: Nebraska 21, Purdue 6
In the biggest match of the dual, Nebraska’s sixth-ranked Mikey Labriola took on No. 4 Dylan Lydy of Purdue. These two have met five times with Lydy winning three, but they always wrestle close, oftentimes taking overtime to decide things. This match was no different, as a scoreless first period led to a second period where Lydy scored an escape to go up 1-0. Labriola tied things in the third at 1-1 with an early escape of his own, but a shot by Lydy was initially fended off by Labriola before the Purdue senior finally secured the takedown to go up 3-1 with under a minute remaining. Labriola escaped quickly but his shots were all fended off well by Lydy who scored a late takedown to win it 5-2, grabbing his 27th win of the season.
Team Score: Nebraska 21, Purdue 9
Nebraska’s 11th-ranked Taylor Venz took on Purdue’s Max Lyon next. The two wrestled to a scoreless first period, but Venz scored a quick escape and takedown to go up 3-0 early in the second period before riding the period out on top, accumulating 1:29 in riding time in the process. Venz rode Lyon for over a minute to start the third period and was able to fend off the desperate shot attempts late in the match to take a 4-1 decision victory.
Team Score: Nebraska 24, Purdue 9
Nebraska’s No. 5-ranked Eric Schultz was back to his dominant ways against Purdue’s Jared Florell. Schultz recorded two takedowns in the first period, another in the second, and three more in the third to secure a 15-6 major decision victory, giving the Huskers another bonus-point victory.
Team Score: Nebraska 28, Purdue 9
At heavyweight, Nebraska’s David Jensen got his third straight start against Purdue’s Thomas Penola. Penola, a converted 197-pounder, was facing a noticeable size difference in this match, as Jensen was the much taller and heavier man. The Husker senior took advantage to build his lead, going up 6-0 in the first period with a takedown and four nearfall points. An escape and another takedown in the second gave Jensen a comfortable 9-0 lead. It wasn’t comfortable enough, however, as Penola scored three takedowns and added two more points on stall calls to cut the Husker’s lead. Jensen withstood the ending onslaught to get the 12-8 victory, giving him his third straight win in conference play.
Final Score: Nebraska 31, Purdue 9
What’s Next for Nebraska
Nebraska faces a quick turnaround as it travels to Bloomington, Indiana to face the Indiana Hoosiers (1-8, 1-7) Sunday at noon with a live stream on BTN+ (subscription required).