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Best Husker Wrestlers Ever: Nos. 7 and 8

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A four-time All-American and a former national champion continue our countdown

Freestyle World Cup 2017 in Iran
James Green celebrates after defeating David Suynyuchkhanov of Azerbaijan at the 2017 World Cup.
Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

After unveiling Nos. 9 and 10 and the honorable mentions on my list of the greatest wrestlers to ever wear a Husker singlet, we’re on to Nos. 7 and 8 on the list.

As is the case for any best-to-ever-do-it list, it wasn’t easy to compile. Many of the wrestlers on this list could arguably be moved up and down the list, but when looking at their resumes, this is where they landed.

No. 8 Jason Powell

NCAA Photos Archive
Jason Powell won the 2004 NCAA Championship at 125 pounds for Nebraska.
Getty Images

Jason Powell wrestled at 125 pounds for Nebraska from 2000-04 and is the second wrestler on this list at the NCAA’s lowest weight class after Jason Kelber came in at No. 9 at 126 pounds.

Powell started his career off with a bang as a redshirt freshman in 2000-01 under then-first-year head coach Mark Manning. The freshman was ranked as high as No. 4 in the country on the way to winning the Big 12 Championship at 125 pounds.

Here is a video of Powell’s win over Oklahoma’s Matt Ridings in the conference final (starts at the 3:50 mark)

Powell struggled at the NCAA tournament though, going 0-2 despite being the 4-seed.

As a sophomore, Powell went 29-8, finishing the year with a third-place finish at the Big 12 Championships while coming in 5th at the NCAA tournament to earn All-American status. Powell was a pinning machine in 2001-02 as he pinned over half of his victims (15 pins).

During his junior campaign, Powell went 35-6. After wrestling back through the consolation bracket to finish third at the Big 12 Championships, Powell also placed third at the NCAA tournament to again earn All-American honors.

As a Senior, Powell cemented his status as an all-time Husker great when he became the program’s eighth national champion. Powell went 26-2 as a senior. Despite falling just short of another Big 12 title (finished 2nd), Powell went on to win the 2004 NCAA Championship at 125 pounds. The top-seeded Powell tore through the field on the way to a dominant end to an impressive career. After winning his first two matches via major decision, Powell won by pinfall in the quarterfinal. Powell then advanced to the final where he demolished Illinois’ Kyle Ott 17-2 by tech fall early in the third period. Powell’s national championship helped Nebraska earn its first Top-5 team finish in eight years.

Finishing with a 109-24 career record, Powell currently sits in a tie for eighth place in Husker history with 60 dual victories (60-11 career record in duals). He earned All-American status three times and went on to finish in fourth place at the U.S.Nationals in freestyle.

No. 7 James Green

James Green was one of the best 157-pounders in the country all four years of his college career. The former Husker became just Nebraska’s second four-time All-American in its history. Despite never capturing a national championship, Green finished seventh both as a freshman and sophomore before coming in third as a junior and as a senior.

Green won the 2014 Big Ten Championship as a junior for the Huskers before finishing third with a 6-1 record at the NCAA tournament with his lone loss coming to eventual second-place finisher Dylan Ness of Minnesota.

Green beat former national champion Derek St. John of Iowa to earn the conference title that year. He finished his junior season 35-2.

As a senior in 2014-15, Green finished the year with a 35-5 record after coming in third at both the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments. At NCCAs, Green’s lone loss came to Isaiah Martinez of Illinois, who went on to win the title both in 2015 and 2016.

Green holds a career 129-22 record at Nebraska, placing him No. 5 on the all-time win list. His .854 win percentage ranks him eighth on the all-time charts at Nebraska.

Green’s career has continued since graduating from Nebraska, as he’s represented Team USA at 70kg at the World Championships the past five years (2015-2019). Green earned a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships after winning the bronze medal in 2015. Green also won two gold medals at the Pan American Games in 2017 and 2018 along with a gold (2018) and a silver (2017) at the World Cup.

Here’s Green defeating Northwestern’s Ryan Deakin twice to earn his spot on the 2019 U.S. World Team. In the first match, Green was shot out of a cannon en route to defeating Deakin by tech fall in 15 seconds.

The second win was harder to come by, but Green got it done.

With 70kg not being an Olympic weight class, Green has decided to move up to 74kg for a run at making the 2021 US Olympic team at that weight. It’ll be a tough task though, as he’ll have to go through two of the best in the world in former Husker and Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs and four-time NCAA Champion Kyle Dake.