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Best Husker Wrestlers Ever: No. 2 Bill Scherr

The NCAA Champ and three-time All-American for the Huskers went on to an impressive international career

One of Nebraska’s best returners, Eric Schultz holds down Nebraska’s 197-pound weight class, right where Husker legend Bill Scherr would likely have wrestled in today’s game. Scherr won an NCAA title and two conference crowns before an impressive freestyle career.
Jon Johnston / CORN NATION

It’s time to unveil No. 2 in our countdown of Nebraska’s best wrestlers ever. In case you missed them, here’s the list so far.

No. 3 Bryan Snyder

No. 4 Tolly Thompson

No. 5 Brad Vering

No. 6 Robert Kokesh

No. 7 James Green

No. 8 Jason Powell

No. 9 Jason Kelber

No. 10 Rulon Gardner

Honorable mentions: Jim Scherr, Mike Nissen and Corey Olson

No. 2 Bill Scherr (1981-84)

At the end of Bill Scherr’s career, he was by far the most accomplished wrestler Nebraska had ever seen. He was the first to win over 100 career matches, setting the Nebraska career mark with a 133-18 record that would stand for more than a decade until Tolly Thompson set the current career mark with 157 wins. Scherr, who wrestled at 190 pounds, currently sits in fourth place in all-time wins behind Thompson, Robert Kokesh (144) and Bryan Snyder (136). Scherr was Nebraska’s first three-time All-American, including an NCAA title in 1984, winning his title the same year as his brother Jim Scherr (177 pounds). In duals, Bill Scherr shined. He went 71-9 in dual competition, the most dual wins ever by a Husker. His win percentage of .881 is fifth most ever at Nebraska, and he was the first Husker to notch three 30-win seasons.

As a freshman, the South Dakota native Scherr went 22-8. The next year as a sophomore, Scherr wasted no time writing his name all over the Husker record books. Scherr set a then- school season record with a 37-5 record. Scherr went on to win a Big 8 title in 1982 with a 5-4 win over Iowa State’s Mike Mann. At the NCAA tournament, Bill Scherr was the 3-seed and won his first two matches by pinfall. Scherr won his quarterfinal match before falling to Iowa State’s 2-seed Mike Mann 8-7 in the semis. Scherr finished in fourth place with an overtime pin to earn All-American honors.

As a junior, Bill Scherr re-set the Husker season wins record with a 38-4 mark. Despite falling in the Big 8 title match in overtime to Mann, Scherr again earned All-American honors. At the NCAA tournament, Scherr again made it to the semifinal round, but fell to 2-seed Ed Banach of Iowa (the eventual national champion) 15-4. Scherr wrestled back to finish third with a 7-6 win over Rider’s Tim Morrison.

As a senior, Bill Scherr really cemented his status in Husker history. The 190-pounder went 36-1 on the year while winning a Big 8 title and an NCAA championship. After beating Oklahoma State’s Karl Lynes 6-4 to win his second conference crown, Bill Scherr went on to have a dominant NCAA tournament.

After winning by tech fall 26-8 in the first round, Bill Scherr pinned his way into the semifinal round. After a dominant 20-6 win in the semis, Bill Scherr found himself in his first NCAA finals match. With his brother just having won a national championship, Bill Scherr left no doubt with a 13-4 major decision victory over Oregon State’s Jim Baumgardner, helping Nebraska earn its first top-4 team finish at the NCAA Championships.

Bill Scherr had one of the most dominant seasons ever by a Husker and an all-time career, but he had an even more impressive career internationally in freestyle wrestling.

Bill Scherr earned a bronze medal at 100 kg (220 pounds) at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. He also won a gold medal (video below) at the 1985 World Championships at 90 kg (198 pounds) before also medaling in 1986 (silver), 1987 (bronze) and 1989 (silver) at 100 kg.

After winning the gold medal at the World Championships in 1985, Bill Scherr made the move up to 100 kg from 90kg so that his brother Jim Scherr could wrestle at 90 kg, considering Jim had outgrown the 82 kg (180 pounds) weight class. In what is considered a major sacrifice, Bill Scherr moved up into a much tougher weight class against much bigger opponents so he and his brother could both represent the USA in wrestling rather than compete against one another for the 90 kg roster spot.

It’s anyone’s guess as to what Bill Scherr’s career would have looked like had he stayed at his natural weight class, but he never won better than a silver medal at the Olympics and the World Championships after making the move.

Bill Scherr did win a Pan Am Games gold medal in 1987 while also winning the US Senior Freestyle title five times (1987-90, 1992). The 1982 USA Wrestling’s Athlete of the Year, Bill Scherr was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1998.

Watch Bill Scherr win his 1989 World Cup final here.

At the 1988 Olympic games, Bill Scherr went 4-1 in Group B, losing only to the eventual gold medalist Vasile Puscasu of Russia. In the bronze-medal match, Scherr won by fall at the 3:31 mark against East Germany’s Uwe Neupert.

Here’s Bill Scherr defeating Czechloslovakia’s Julius Strnisko during pool play in Seoul.