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Husker Wrestling Recruits Cap Off Stellar HS Careers

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Nebraska’s No. 6 recruiting class finishes off high school in dominant fashion

Nebraska wrestling head coach Mark Manning talks to Taylor Venz before their dual against Minnesota.
Jon Johnston / Corn Nation

The Huskers inked an impressive recruiting class in November, and with the high school seasons winding to a close, it’s worth recapping how the future Huskers did to finish off their high school careers.

Nebraska signed the No. 6 recruiting class in the country for 2020, so it’s obvious that the class is impressive. But after doing some more in-depth research, I was honestly flabbergasted by some of the resumes and accomplishments in this group.

The 2020 class consists of six total incoming recruits, with four of them finishing off their high school careers this year. Two of the incoming recruits hail from Utah and graduated high school in 2018, but they are both currently finishing up two-year LDS missions.

Out of the four who just wrapped up their high school careers, two of them pulled off the seemingly impossible feat of going undefeated in their high school careers. Another piled up an unreal pin rate. And another separated himself from the pack in a state stacked with talent.

This group possesses multiple cadet and junior national titles along with their respective high school resumes. Let’s see how they did to finish high school.

INCOMING RECRUITS

Jeremiah Reno

Projected weight: 125 pounds

(Liberty) Kansas City, Mo.

Reno recently put an end to a perfect high school career when he won his fourth straight Missouri Class 4 state title. He won in 2017 (106 pounds), 2018 (106), 2019 (113) and 2020 (120), finishing with a 179-0 career record. Reno, the nation’s No. 4 wrestler at 120 pounds according to InterMat, won his final high school match via 12-3 major decision. The high school rankings include wrestlers from freshman through senior, so Reno is the second-ranked senior in the weight class. On top of his high school accolades, Reno also finished second at the 2018 Cadet Folkstyle Nationals.

Next season’s outlook

Husker redshirt freshman Alex Thomsen has struggled for the Huskers at 125 pounds, as he’s amassed a 10-12 record going into the Big Ten tournament. Thomsen was a highly sought after recruit in his own right coming out of high school, but I expect an open competition between Thomsen, Reno and Nebraska’s other 125-pounders.

Dominick Serrano

Projected weight: 133/141 pounds

(Windsor) Windsor, Colo.

Dominick Serrano may go down as the best wrestler to ever come out of Colorado. The high school senior went a perfect 168-0 while capturing four straight state titles. The No. 2-ranked wrestler in the country at 132 pounds, Serrano is only the second wrestler ever to go undefeated with four titles in Colorado state history. Serrano easily won his final match 22-8 by major decision for the title. Aside from his high school career, Serrano is also very accomplished nationally. After capturing a Cadet national title in 2018, Serrano went on to win the 2019 Fargo Junior Freestyle National Championship at 132 pounds, outscoring his opponents 74-3 through seven matches. Additionally, Serrano was recently selected to represent the USA All-Star squad in the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic which will take place on March 14. In what’s been dubbed the “Rose Bowl of High School Wrestling” the USA All-Star team will face off against a team comprised of Pennsylvania’s top seniors in a dual meet.

Next season’s outlook

How things work out next season at 133 pounds will be interesting. Freshman Ridge Lovett currently occupies that spot, but I see it as a strong possibility that he may be moving up to 141 pounds, which would lead to an open competition between Serrano and Nebraska’s other 133-pounders for the starting spot.

Nathan Haas

Projected weight: 184 pounds

(St. John Bosco) Norwalk, Calif.

Nathan Haas just won his second straight California state title at 182 pounds last night. The top-ranked 182-pounder in California, Haas is also an accomplished wrestler nationally. In 2018, he won a Junior Cadet title while adding a USAW National Folkstyle Wrestling title and a first-place finish at the California World Challenge in 2019. Haas is currently ranked No. 9 nationally at 182 pounds by InterMat.

Next season’s outlook

With All-American Taylor Venz (ranked No. 10 in the country currently) returning next year as a senior, the 184-pound weight class is locked in for the Huskers in 2020-21. Haas will join fellow 184-pound newcomer Brandyn Van Tassell in Lincoln with both likely redshirting, setting up the Huskers for life without Venz.

Silas Allred

Projected weight: 197 pounds

(Shenadoah) Muncie, Indiana

Silas Allred has had a seriously dominant high school career. The future Husker from Indiana went an incredible 144-2 throughout high school, but that’s now the part that bursts off the stat sheet. Of his 144 career wins, 139 have come via pinfall. That’s a 96.5% pin rate. That’s absolutely absurd. The No. 4-ranked wrestler at 195 pounds by InterMat, Allred went 39-0 as a senior with 39 pins to win his second straight state title. He also finished his career on a 74-match win streak. In addition, Allred was selected along with Serrano to represent the USA All-Star squad in the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic, making Nebraska the only college with multiple recruits on the team (the Pennsylvania All-Star squad has not yet been announced).

Next season’s outlook

Much like at 184, Nebraska is set at 197 pounds in 2020-21 with Eric Schultz (currently ranked No. 3) gearing up for his senior season. Nebraska was in need of a solid 197-pound recruit as two of the three guys at the weight will be seniors next season. They got an absolute stud in Allred. After a redshirt year, I’d be shocked if he doesn’t become a four-year starter beginning in 2021-22.

2018 High School Graduates

Brock Hardy

Projected weight: 149/157 pounds

(Box Elder) Brigham City, Utah

Brock Hardy may have been away from the mat for nearly two years, but he was an incredibly decorated recruit. Before heading off on his two-year LDS mission in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Hardy was ranked as high as No. 2 in the country at 145 pounds. He went 185-4 in high school with four state titles and was a 5-time winner at USA Folkstyle Nationals. In fact, Hardy already has a history against one of the nation’s best. Three times Hardy has faced Ohio State’s top-ranked Sammy Sasso, currently a redshirt freshman with a 22-2 record. After losing to Sasso at the 2015 USAW Cadet Men’s Freestyle Nationals (4-1 decision), Hardy exacted some revenge with a 2016 win (10-9 decision) at the Fargo Nationals in the finals. The two also met at the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic (third Husker recruit in this class that was selected to participate in that exclusive dual) in 2018. A back-and-forth affair, it again went down to the wire with Sasso edging Hardy with a reversal with 15 seconds left. The point is, Hardy has proven to be right up there with a guy that’s currently the cream of the crop at 149 pounds.

Next season’s outlook

There are so many factors at play here. Is Hardy in shape to wrestle after taking two years away from the sport? If he is, there’s a vacancy at 149 pounds with the graduation of Collin Purinton. Can he beat out stud 2019 recruit Kevon Davenport for the spot? Are there weight class changes above and below him? It’s almost impossible to predict what Hardy’s freshman season will bring, but if I was a betting man, I’d bet that he redshirts to get back into wrestling shape and get used to the college game.

Brandyn Van Tassell

Projected weight: 184 pounds

(Maple Mountain) Mapleton, Utah

Brandyn Van Tassell won two straight Utah state titles at 182 pounds to end his high school career. His first, in 2017, he won less than a year removed from tearing both his ACL and LCL in his knee. Also finishing a two-year LDS mission, Van Tassell will add competition to a 184-pound weight class that’s looking for its heir apparent to Taylor Venz.

Next season’s outlook

After taking two years off for his mission and being behind a senior All-American, Van Tassell is a lock to redshirt.

Overall Assessment

I think the Huskers struck gold with this class. They hit on almost every need they have, and they’re bringing in some of the best in the nation at that. Needing to stock up and add competition at the light weights, Nebraska is bringing in two of the best in the country in Reno and Serrano. Needing a 149-pounder, or possibly a 157-pounder if Peyton Robb moves up to 165, the Huskers will gladly welcome a wrestler as decorated as Hardy to the fold. And at 184 pounds, the Huskers needed someone in the program that could take over when Venz graduates. They’re adding two really solid guys at the weight. Then at 197, the Huskers also needed someone to come in and take over after Schultz’s career winds down, and they brought in arguably the best 197-pounder in the country with Allred.

The only additional weight class that Nebraska could have really used a big-time recruit was heavyweight. Nebraska graduates both of its starters from this season and will go into next year with a redshirt sophomore with a career 11-8 record and a 197-pound transfer from Wyoming that’s transitioning to 285 pounds.

Ironically, the top-rated heavyweight in the class is coming to Nebraska. But he’ll be playing defensive line for the Huskers. Nash Hutmacher, who is nicknamed “Polar Bear” and from South Dakota, has been dominant on the mat. In his final run to a state title, Hutmacher beat four opponents in under two total minutes on the mat. He’s pinned 73 straight opponents and just won his fourth straight state title. And he finished his career off in style. A nine-second pin.

Getting the “Polar Bear” on the mat in a Nebraska singlet would be something else. I guess a wrestling fan can wish and hope.