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Wrestling: Huskers Smash No. 14 Tar Heels

No. 10 Nebraska put on a show in a 27-6 win over No. 14 North Carolina

Big Ten Championship
Nebraska’s Peyton Robb took out NCAA Champion Austin O’Connor of North Carolina in the night’s biggest match.
Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

In its first Division I action after going 2-0 at the Nebraska Duals, the No. 10 Nebraska wrestling team put a hurting on No. 14 North Carolina with a 27-6 dual victory, highlighted by a Husker upset over a defending NCAA Champion.

Facing one of the ACC’s better teams, Nebraska’s lineup exceeded expectations in winning eight of 10 matches, moving the Huskers to 3-0 on the year.

Not only did Nebraska hold serve in most of the matches it was supposed to win, but the Huskers also secured a couple big upset wins.

I guess it’s good when you catch your new Athletic Director’s attention, too.

Match-By-Match Breakdown

*FloWrestling individual rankings used

125 pounds

Husker senior No. 17 Liam Cronin took the mat for the first time this season against North Carolina. After a scoreless first period against freshman Spencer Moore, Cronin gave up an escape before scoring the match’s first takedown to go up 2-1.

In the third, Cronin started on bottom and got an escape before a long scramble ate up the rest of the period with nobody scoring. Cronin starts the season with a 3-1 decision victory.

Team Score: Nebraska 3, N. Carolina 0

133 pounds

Nebraska’s Alex Thomsen took the mat against No. 14 Jaime Hernandez and started things off well with a quick duck-under takedown for a 2-0 lead. After that, Hernandez scored an escape and a takedown in the first period before reversing Thomsen in the second and riding him out for the rest of the period. In the third, Hernandez took Thomsen down twice while cutting him loose for escapes twice. Thomsen moves to 1-1 on the year with the 10-4 decision loss.

Team Score: Nebraska 3, N. Carolina 3

141 pounds

In one of the best matches of the night, Nebraska’s No. 8 Chad Red Jr. took on North Carolina’s No. 17 Kizhan Clarke.

After a scoreless first period, Red took a 1-0 lead in the second period with an escape. In the third, Clarke earned an escape to even things up. With Red fending off a strong double-leg attack by Clarke to end the period, the match went into sudden victory (first score wins).

In sudden victory, both wrestlers found ways to fend off some deep attacks, but it was Clarke who picked up a takedown with 17 seconds left to get the 3-1 win.

Team Score: N. Carolina 6, Nebraska 3

149 pounds

After two straight losses, Nebraska looked to No. 11 Ridge Lovett to get back on track. Facing No. 8 Zach Sherman of North Carolina, Lovett came out and scored an early takedown, but Sherman took a 3-2 lead with an escape and a takedown of his own. Lovett evened things at 3-all to end the first with an escape.

In the second period, Sherman chose neutral because he didn’t want to deal with Lovett’s top game. The period ended scoreless.

Lovett chose bottom in the third period, giving him a 4-3 lead after a quick escape. Then after an extended scramble on the edge of the mat, the North Carolina coaches chose to challenge that Sherman secured a takedown. After review, the call stood that there was not a takedown. Lovett held on for the 4-3 upset win.

Team Score: Nebraska 6, N. Carolina 6

157 pounds

Here is where the Huskers really took control. Nebraska’s No. 12 Peyton Robb brought it against No. 2 Austin O’Connor, the 2021 NCAA Champion at 149 pounds.

In the first period, Robb was able to take a 2-0 lead with a takedown that he had to work for on the edge of the mat with five seconds remaining.

O’Connor then scored on a second-period escape before Robb got an escape in the third to go up 3-1. Robb then secured another takedown with a go-behind on O’Connor. Eventually, Robb released O’Connor for an escape, but the Husker secured the big-time upset 5-2.

With the sophomores Lovett and Robb securing huge upsets, the Huskers were in control against the Tar Heels.

Team Score: Nebraska 9, N. Carolina 6

165 pounds

After the intermission, Nebraska’s redshirt freshman Bubba Wilson took on redshirt freshman Sonny Santiago.

Wilson secured an early takedown on a counter shot before giving up an escape. Both wrestlers put their defense on display to end the first period, as they both fended off deep shots that looked like takedowns.

Wilson took a 3-1 lead in the second period with an escape, while Santiago got his own escape in the third. Wilson was able to hold off Santiago in the third period for a 3-2 decision win.

Team Score: Nebraska 12, N. Carolina 6

174 pounds

Nebraska’s No. 5 Mikey Labriola made his season debut against North Carolina’s Clay Lautt, the No. 18-ranked wrestler at 184 pounds.

After a scoreless first period, Labriola came up big in the second with a quick escape and takedown before giving up an escape.

Up 3-1 going into the third, Labriola gave up an escape to Lautt but held on for the 3-2 win with some pretty solid defense.

Team Score: Nebraska 15, N. Carolina 6

184 pounds

Nebraska’s No. 10 Taylor Venz took on North Carolina’s Hunter Queen and was dominant. In the first period, Venz whipped Queen over onto his back for what looked like a pin, but the official wasn’t in position for the call. Venz took a 6-0 lead with the near-fall points.

Then in the second, Venz gave up an escape but also scored a takedown and a point on stalling on Queen. Venz then scored six more points in the third to earn a convincing 15-2 major decision win.

Team Score: Nebraska 19, N. Carolina 6

197 pounds

Facing North Carolina’s Mark Chaid, normally a 184-pounder, Nebraska’s No. 11 Eric Schultz was also fairly dominant.

Schultz used four nearfall points to go up 8-1 in the first period before scoring three more in the second. In the third period, Schultz added two more takedown for a 16-3 major decision win.

Team Score: Nebraska 23, N. Carolina 6

285 pounds

Nebraska’s No. 13 Christian Lance took on North Carolina’s Brandon Whitman and was able to do almost whatever he wanted to on the feet. Lance secured a first-period takedown before taking Whitman down three times in the second and three more in the third for a 17-6 major decision win.

Team Score: Nebraska 27, N. Carolina 6

What’s Next for Nebraska?

The Huskers travel this Sunday to Brookings, S.D. to compete in the Daktronics Open.