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Husker Wrestlers Finish Second at Big Tens

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Nebraska qualifies all 10 wrestlers for NCAA tournament in impressive tournament performance

Big Ten Championship Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

The Huskers put together an incredible team effort to capture second place at the Big Ten Wrestling Championships this weekend. It was Nebraska’s best finish at the conference tournament since joining the conference in 2011.

In a serious show of depth, the No. 4 Nebraska wrestling team was able to finish in second place in the team race despite not having an individual champion. Iowa led the field with three individual champions to finish in first place as a team. Penn State, Ohio State and Northwestern each had two individual champions yet still finished behind the Huskers in the team race.

What separated the Huskers from everyone but Iowa was their depth and ability to score bonus points. Every one of Nebraska’s wrestlers finished 7th place or higher and they all secured automatic qualifying spots in the upcoming NCAA tournament. Despite not capturing individual gold, Nebraska had a runner-up finisher and an astonishing five third-place finishers. Iowa and Nebraska each had six top-3 finishers. Besides Penn State with five, no other team was even close to that number.

As far as bonus points are concerned, Nebraska racked them up in a major way. Nine of Nebraska’s 10 wrestlers scored bonus-point wins this weekend, adding an additional 24 points to Nebraska’s total. Mikey Labriola led the Husker with three bonus-point wins for an additional 4.5 points, while Ridge Lovett added 4 points with two wins by pinfall and Taylor Venz added 3.5 points for a pin and tech-fall win.

Iowa scored 157.5 points to bring home the Big Ten title, with Nebraska scoring 132 points to finish as runners-up. Ohio State finished a distant third with 112 points and Penn State scored 107 to place fourth.

How to Earn Team Points

For those who don’t know how the team points are earned, there are three ways to score points: placement points, advancement points and bonus points.

Placement points are awarded for placing in the top 8 in each weight class as follows:

1st place: 16 points

2nd place: 12 points

3rd place: 10 points

4th place: 9 points

5th place: 7 points

6th place: 6 points

7th place: 4 points

8th place: 3 points

Advancement points are awarded for wins, with one point being awarded for each advancement in the championship bracket and 0.5 points being awarded for advancement in the consolation bracket. Also, since the top two seeds are awarded first-round byes, these wrestlers can earn a point for these byes, but only if they win their following match. So, for example, if a top-seeded wrestler wins his first match in the quarterfinal round, he’s awarded two points, with one for the quarterfinal win and another for his first-round bye.

Bonus points are awarded when a wrestler wins a match by more than just a normal decision. For each win by fall, forfeit, default or disqualification, the wrestler earns two extra team points. For a tech fall (win by 15 or more), 1.5 bonus team points are awarded. For a major decision (win by between 8-14 points), one bonus team point is awarded.

You got that?

Weight-By-Weight Breakdown

125 pounds

After going 3-1 in the first day of the tournament, 10-seed redshirt freshman Alex Thomsen dropped both of his matches on Day 2. In the consolation semifinal match, Thomsen lost 2-1 in an overtime match to 5-seed Jack Medley of Michigan. In the fifth-place match, Thomsen faced Indiana’s Liam Cronin, who he beat in the opening round of the tournament. The Hoosier exacted his revenge with a second-period pinfall victory over Thomsen.

Final result: Thomsen went 3-3 to finish in 6th place.

133 pounds

No. 6-seed Ridge Lovett had only one match on Sunday in the 7th-place match against 8-seed Joey Silva of Michigan. With the Big Ten receiving seven NCAA automatic qualifying spots at the weight, this match was a win-and-you’re-in situation. The match was tied up at 2-2 in the third period, but Silva had over a minute of riding time, essentially giving him a 3-2 advantage. With time winding down, Lovett used an upper body throw with a trip to take Silva down as time expired. The officials reviewed the call of a takedown and confirmed the call, securing an NCAA spot for the true freshman Husker with the 4-3 decision victory.

Final result: Lovett went 3-2 on the weekend to finish in 7th place.

141 pounds

No. 4-seed Chad Red Jr. had arguably the best tournament for the Huskers. After going 2-1 on Day 1 with his lone loss coming to top-seeded Nick Lee of Penn State, Red continued his hot streak on Sunday. In the consolation semifinal round, Red took down 3-seed Max Murin of Iowa 3-1 with an overtime takedown. Red wrestled 5-seed Tristan Moran for the second time this weekend in the third-place match and picked up a dominant 12-3 win by major decision.

Final result: Red went 4-1 to finish in 3rd place.

149 pounds

In one of the big surprises for the Huskers this weekend, 7-seed Collin Purinton continued his run through the consolation bracket Sunday. After going 3-1 on Day 1 with his lone loss coming to eventual champion Pat Lugo of Iowa, Purinton defeated 4-seed Kanen Storr of Michigan in the consolation semifinal. Purinton advanced to the third-place match where he took on 3-seed Brayton Lee of Minnesota. The Husker senior bounced the Gopher 3-0.

Final result: Purinton went 5-1 on the weekend to finish in 3rd place.

157 pounds

After a big first day that saw him upset 2-seed Kaleb Young of Iowa before falling to 3-seed Kendall Coleman of Purdue in the semifinal round, 7-seed Peyton Robb moved on to the third-place match when Michigan State’s Jake Tucker medical forfeited in the consolation semifinal. In the third-place match, Robb took on 8-seed Eric Barone. Robb dropped Barone 5-4 in a closely contested match.

Final result: Robb went 4-1 to finish in 3rd place.

165 pounds

No. 4-seed Isaiah White found himself in the consolation semifinal Sunday after a Saturday loss to top-seeded Vincenzo Joseph of Penn State. White easily handled 7-seed Danny Braunagel of Illinois 11-4 before taking on 5-seed Ethan Smith of Ohio State in the third-place match. White defeated Smith 3-2 to pick up his fourth win of the season over the Buckeye.

Final result: White went 4-1 over the weekend to finish in 3rd place.

174 pounds

No. 5-seed Mikey Labriola was one of only two Huskers that finished below where they were seeded. Labriola went 3-1 on Day 1 with a loss to 4-seed Devin Skatzka. On Sunday, Labriola fell to 3-seed Dylan Lydy of Purdue in the consolation semifinal by a 5-3 decision. In the third-place match, Labriola again took on Skatzka. The Husker sophomore fell to the Gopher senior again 8-3.

Final result: Labriola went 3-3 to finish in 6th place.

184 pounds

No. 4-seed Taylor Venz went 2-1 on Day 1 with his lone loss to top-seeded Aaron Brooks of Penn State. In Sunday’s consolation semifinal, Venz took on 6-seed Rocky Jordan of Ohio State. The Husker junior exacted revenge for a regular season loss by downing the Buckeye via pinfall in the second period. In the third-place match that followed, Venz defeated 3-seed Abe Assad of Iowa 6-4.

Final result: Venz went 4-1 to finish in 3rd place.

197 pounds

After advancing to the championship match with two wins on Saturday, 2-seed Eric Schultz faced top-seeded Kollin Moore of Ohio State. In the final, Schultz struggled to get any offense going, as he put his first point on the board in the final period in a 3-1 loss. It was Moore’s third Big Ten title.

Final result: Schultz went 2-1 to finish in 2nd place.

285 pounds

No. 5-seed David Jensen went 3-1 on Day 1 and found himself in Sunday’s consolation semifinal, where he faced off against 3-seed Tony Cassioppi of Iowa. Cassioppi reversed a takedown attempt by Jensen in the first period to win by pinfall, sending the Husker senior to the fifth-place match. Jensen took on 6-seed Gary Traub of Ohio State in the fifth-place match and won comfortably by 6-0 decision.

Final result: Jensen went 4-2 over the weekend to finish in 5th place.