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Wrestling: Updated Husker Roster Observations

Nebraska has updated its 2021 roster, and here are my thoughts

2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Wrestling Championship
Mikey Labriola, seen here celebrating after finishing third at the 2021 NCAA Championships, will be one of Nebraska’s veteran leaders this year.
Photo by Scott Rovak/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Nebraska recently updated its online roster for the 2021-22 season, and there were some interesting observations to be made.

The Huskers have 37 total wrestlers listed and have an absurd number of freshmen due to the NCAA’s eligibility waver. That means that both the 2020 and 2021 classes will technically be true freshmen, giving Nebraska 19 total freshmen (16 true freshmen). And add in the fact that Nebraska brought back five senior starters for another season, and this enormous freshman class will be extremely redshirt-heavy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see 13 or more of these guys redshirt.

New Names

After compiling a Top-10 class in 2021, Nebraska has three surprise freshmen on the roster, essentially as walk-ons.

Quinton Chavez, a two-time Nebraska Class B state champion for Gering High School, will wrestle at 125 pounds. Chavez racked up a school record 163 career wins.

At 149, the Huskers brought in 2020 Nebraska state champ Blake Cushing from Grand Island High School. Cushing finished as runner-up in 2021 while compiling a 114-12 career record with 59 wins by pinfall.

Nebraska also brought in Tahjae Jenkins-Harris out of Legacy High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. As a senior in 2021, Jenkins-Harris went 35-0 and was the state’s high school athlete of the year.

These guys figure to help add depth in the future and will most assuredly redshirt this year.

Transfer Boo Dryden

I saw incoming Minnesota transfer Dryden’s name on the roster, and I instantly started scratching my head. First, the graduate transfer from Minnesota is listed as a junior. Second, he’s listed at 125 pounds.

If my math is correct, Dryden is definitely a senior. And the almost 6-footer has wrestled at 133 pounds his entire career. And Nebraska has a major need at 133. Also, the Huskers have an established senior starter at 125 pounds in Liam Cronin, so the chances Dryden actually competes at 125 is slim to none.

He’s a senior, and he’ll probably start for Nebraska at 133.

141 and 149 Come into Focus

On the roster, Nebraska has sophomore Ridge Lovett staying at 149 pounds while freshman Brock Hardy is listed at 141. If this is true, I was wrong when I predicted Hardy at 149 and Lovett at 157 here. Live and learn, I suppose.

Obviously, senior Chad Red Jr. will start for Nebraska at 141, and Lovett looks to be the heavy favorite at 149 after finishing as runner-up at the Big Ten Championships. I’d bet on the true freshman Hardy redshirting if he in fact does stay at 141.

Robb at 157

Sophomore Peyton Robb, who will represent Team USA at the U23 World Championships along with teammate Mikey Labriola next week, is listed this season at 157 pounds after starting in 2021 at 165. He did compete at 157 as a freshman, so he has plenty of experience and success at the weight.

COLLEGE WRESTLING: MAR 07 Big Ten Wrestling Championships
Peyton Robb
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now, being listed at a weight on the roster and competing there are two different stories. I’ll wait for the season to start before I believe some of these roster moves.

Incoming Studs On Roster

Incoming blue-chip recruits Jagger Condomitti and Lenny Pinto, who were scheduled to spend a gap year at the Olympic Training Center, are both listed on the roster. Now, that may not mean anything, but I’m thinking their inclusion on the roster may mean that they are joining the team in Lincoln a year early. Normally, when guys take gap years, be it for going to the OTC or for Mormon missions, they generally don’t show up on the roster until they join the team.

In Condomitti’s case, if he’s in fact a part of the team this year, he’d absolutely have a shot at starting for Nebraska at 165 pounds. Pinto would likely redshirt behind Labriola at 174.

Who Starts at 165?

Nebraska has five wrestlers listed at this weight, and all five are freshmen. Nebraska has redshirt freshman Bubba Wilson, going into his third season with the Huskers, as a leading candidate.

The Huskers also have four true freshmen listed. Elise Brown-Ton is a talented 2020 recruit, while Condomitti, Adam Thebeau and Jenkins-Harris are talented true freshmen from the class of 2021.

It’s anyone’s guess, but if Condomitti is with the team, I think he’s the favorite. If not, it’ll likely be Wilson, who’s dealt with multiple injuries throughout his career. Brown-Ton and Thebeau are dark horse candidates.

Upper Weights Set

With junior Mikey Labriola at 174 pounds and seniors Taylor Venz (184), Eric Schultz (197), and Christian Lance (285) rounding out the lineup, Nebraska’s upper-weights are stacked.

In addition, these guys’ heir apparents are already on the roster. Lenny Pinto will likely be Labriola’s future replacement, while Nathan Haas looks to be the future at 184. Silas Allred will redshirt this year but will be Nebraska’s future 197-pounder.

At heavyweight, Nebraska will have a pair of options after Lance graduates in Cale Davidson and Landon Brown.

Notable Omissions

Four total wrestlers are not listed on the roster that were a year ago.

Most notably is 2021 starter at 157 pounds Caleb Licking. The senior announced he would not use his extra year after graduating.

Tyler Deen (149) entered the transfer portal and is not listed, while redshirt freshmen Isaiah Alford and John Henrich are both off the team roster at 165 pounds. Alford would have had a chance to earn the starting spot this year.

Final Lineup Prediction

125 - Liam Cronin, Senior

133 - Boo Dryden, Senior

141 - Chad Red Jr., Senior

149 - Ridge Lovett, Sophomore

157 - Peyton Robb, Sophomore

165 - Bubba Wilson, RS Freshman

174 - Mikey Labriola, Junior

184 - Taylor Venz, Senior

197 - Eric Schultz, Senior

285 - Christian Lance, Senior