A look back at the countdown so far:
Determining a wrestler’s ceiling can be a difficult proposition, especially when you consider that Nebraska’s wrestlers are at different points in their careers. So different criteria will be used based on what each wrestler has accomplished as well as potential and time left in the program.
For instance, a senior-to-be who’s already secured All-American honors has hit a certain level and maybe has shown more definitively what his ceiling is. On the other hand, an incoming freshman hasn’t accomplished anything at the collegiate level, but their experience and accolades in high school and on the junior circuit can generally give a good indication of how good they can be in college.
Continuing our Top 10 Huskers with the highest ceilings, we move on to sophomore Peyton Robb.
No. 8 Peyton Robb
157 or 165 pounds
Sophomore Peyton Robb is coming off of an impressive redshirt freshman season that saw him finish with a 20-6 record and a third-place finish at the Big Ten Championships. Robb heads into the season ranked No. 13 at 157 pounds, where he’s competed the last two years. While it’s right now an unknown who will possibly move up to replace Isaiah White at 165 pounds, Robb is a likely candidate.
Before Nebraska, Robb wrestled at Owatonna High School in Minnesota and was the school’s first three-time state champion, as he finished with a 155-6 career record. He won state his senior year up at 160 pounds and was the No. 2 recruit at 160 pounds by InterMat.
During his redshirt year, Robb went 22-3 with 17 wins with bonus points. One of his only losses came in a 6-3 decision to Iowa State’s David Carr. Carr was the No. 2 overall recruit in 2018 and was the 2019 Junior World Champion.
This past season had Robb taking over the starting spot after the departure of three-time All-American Tyler Berger. With big shoes to fill, Robb did an admirable job for a freshman. In fact, sometimes it was hard to tell he was a freshman at all. He wrestles a grinding style that can wear his opponents out. He tends to end up in tight matches, and he showed this season that he’s able to compete with the best in the college game. All five of his regular season losses came by a combined 7 points and they all came against ranked opponents.
After starting the season 8-0, Robb fell in a close 3-2 decision to top-ranked Hayden Hidlay of NC State at the Cliff Keen Invitational. Robb went 4-2 and finished seventh.
During Big Ten dual season, Robb went 7-3. He lost to No. 4 Kaleb Young of Iowa 6-4 (video below), fell to No. 20 Jake Tucker of Michigan State 7-5 in sudden victory, and lost to No. 9 Will Lewan of Michigan 4-3. It always felt like he was about to start winning these close matches against ranked opponents, but it never really materialized.
That is, until the Big 10 Championships. After a first-round win, Robb got his revenge and knocked off the 2-seed Young of Iowa 3-2 in the quarterfinals. In his semifinal matchup, Robb dropped a razor-thin 3-2 decision to Kendall Coleman of Purdue. He then advanced through the consolation bracket into the third-place matchup where he beat Illinois’ Eric Barone 5-4.
Robb had earned the 13-seed at the NCAA tournament that was cancelled, so it’s anyone’s guess whether he would have earned All-American honors as a freshman. But going forward, Robb will be a mainstay in the Husker lineup until he exhausts his eligibility. Whether it’s at 157 pounds or 165 pounds will be determined. But the fact that he wrestled at 160 pounds in high school and actually missed weight once this season leads me to believe he’d be the ideal candidate to move up in weight to fill a major need.
Robb proved this past season that he will beat the guys he’s supposed to beat and has wrestled tough matches against the top guys and always kept it close. He’s a very punishing wrestler, as you can see in this video of him earning a quick win by tech fall against Wyoming’s Logan Jensen.
In Robb’s future I see a couple All-American seasons with maybe a conference final or an NCAA final thrown in there. Everything you hear out of the Husker camp and from the coaches is that Robb is a stud. He is, but national championship level stud is a lofty goal. I think Robb can make a run at some point in his career, although I don’t see it as overly probable. Although, it wouldn’t surprise me either.