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Husker Wrestling Having Eventful Offseason

Huskers add big-time transfer, fresh crop of newcomers, and a Rookie of the Year honor

Returning 125-pound starter Alex Thomsen will have his work cut out for him in defending his position against incoming senior transfer Liam Cronin from Indiana.
Jon Johnston / CORN NATION

The Husker wrestling team has had a fairly eventful offseason of roster additions and some accolades. Here is a rundown of what’s new with Nebraska off the mat.

Huskers add 125-pound transfer

Nebraska brings in an experienced transfer from Indiana in Liam Cronin. The senior-to-be is familiar with the Big Ten and holds a career 42-31 record. The former Hoosier finished last season with a 17-13 record but held up well against Big Ten competition with a 6-3 conference dual record.

After finishing his junior year at Indiana with a 5th-place finish at the Big Ten Championships, Cronin is officially a Husker. In fact, Cronin secured that 5th place with a second-period pin over Nebraska’s very own Alex Thomsen. Both wrestlers secured automatic qualifying spots to the NCAA Championships that were inevitably cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

As I detailed in the 125, 133, and 141-pound previews, there are a lot of questions to answer for the Huskers at the lower weight classes. The addition of Cronin could afford the Husker coaches more lineup flexibility this coming season. For one thing, it all but guarantees that freshman Jeremiah Reno will redshirt at 125 pounds.

Cronin and returning starter Alex Thomsen, who went 13-15 as a redshirt freshman this past season, will likely compete for the job. Thomsen did defeat Cronin 17-12 in the first round of the Big Ten tournament before getting pinned in the 5th-place match.

I anticipate a close battle, but I just don’t think you bring a guy like Cronin in for his senior season without thinking he can win the job. I believe he will, so that means that Thomsen will be looking for a new role. I could see Thomsen serving as a backup at both 125 and 133 pounds, guaranteeing a redshirt for incoming freshman Dominick Serrano.

With Thomsen possibly moving up to 133 pounds, that could free up Ridge Lovett to move up to 141 pounds, and then for Chad Red Jr. to move up to 149 to replace the graduated Collin Purinton. Roster options abound.

The Husker coaches have their work cut out for them in figuring out their lower weights going into next season.

Nebraska beefs up with newcomers

The Huskers had five new roster additions earlier this week. In addition to a pair of 2018 signees who are joining the Husker program after two-year LDS missions in Hardy and Van Tassell (who I detailed here), Nebraska has officially brought in junior Landon Brown and freshmen Nic Stoltenberg and Zak Taylor.

Brown, a heavyweight, comes from Western Wyoming Community College, where he twice qualified for the NJCAA Wrestling Championships. He finished 3rd in 2019 and was a contender for a championship in 2020 before the cancellation of nationals. Much like Hardy and Van Tassell, Brown also completed an LDS mission before enrolling at WWCC in 2017.

The Huskers add another body to the heavyweight room with Taylor. The Ohio native has been wrestling at St. Edward where he was a Nebraska state qualifier.

Nic Stoltenberg joins the Huskers after a dominant high school career at Omaha Skutt. Stoltenberg won three Nebraska state championships at three different weight classes and compiled a 140-23 career record, including a 39-4 record as a senior on the way to winning the 152-pound title in Class B. Stoltenberg is projected to start his career at 149 pounds.

Lovett named to All-Rookie Team

Dylan Guenther / CORN NATION

Husker sophomore-to-be Ridge Lovett went 17-8 during his freshman campaign with a 7th-place finish at the Big Ten Championships and an NCAA automatic-qualifying spot. Good enough to put him on the Amateur Wrestling News magazine’s 2019-20 All-Rookie Team.

Lovett burned his redshirt against Northern Iowa in November but really caught people’s attention with a third-place finish at the Cliff Keen Invitational and a win over then-No. 9 Taylor LaMont of Utah Valley. After some struggles against top competition, Lovett finished the regular season with a 6-match win streak.