With a bye week this weekend, I’ll take some time to dive into some news, observations and outlook going forward.
The Nebraska wrestling team went 2-0 over the weekend but still dropped a spot in the National Wrestling Coaches Association Coaches Poll to No. 8. The Huskers were leapfrogged by Virginia Tech, which went from No. 8 to No. 4 after defeating then-No. 2 NC State.
Here is the complete NWCA Top 25 and their records (Big Ten teams in bold)
- Iowa 5-0
- Michigan 3-0
- Penn State 2-0
- Virginia Tech 8-0
- Missouri 10-0
- Oklahoma State 9-0
- NC State 5-1
- Nebraska 6-1
- Minnesota 5-2
- Ilinois 5-2
- Arizona State 3-0
- Ohio State 5-2
- Iowa State 8-2
- North Carolina 4-2
- Northern Iowa 4-2
- Pittsburgh 3-3
- Purdue 2-5
- Oklahoma 5-4
- Wisconsin 1-4
- Navy 4-1
- Virginia 3-2
- Michigan State 2-3
- Campbell 8-1
- Central Michigan 5-2
- Rider 3-1
Nebraska has a No. 1
The Huskers officially have a No. 1-ranked wrestler in his weight class in senior Eric Schultz at 197 pounds. The Husker is 7-0 on the season and has three wins over guys currently in the Top 10 at the weight.
The reason for Schultz’s move up is the fact that previously No. 1-ranked Noah Adams of West Virginia lost his first match of the season this weekend, in fact it was his first loss since the 2019 NCAA tournament when he ironically lost to Schultz.
No. 1 Iowa vs. No. 3 Penn State Postponed
One of the most anticipated duals of the season has been postponed due to Iowa shutting down all team activities due to Covid 19 cases within the wrestling program and team. The dual was slotted to air on BTN on Friday night.
This is the fourth Penn State dual that’s been postponed this year due to covid, so here’s an idea...let the Huskers fill in for the Hawkeyes.
I mean, Nebraska is on a bye week and Penn State needs to get some duals in. The Huskers just missed out a dual against Rutgers due to postponement as well. And the Huskers and Nittany Lions weren’t originally scheduled to meet this season.
Plus, there’s an empty time slot for BTN to fill. I think No. 8 Nebraska vs. No. 3 Penn State sounds like a great idea.
New Husker Commit
Nebraska picked up a big commitment from one of Nebraska’s best high school wrestlers on Sunday. Millard South’s Scott Robertson announced his commitment to the Huskers on Twitter.
I’m Grateful to be able to announce that I will be headed to Lincoln to continue my athletic and academic career at The University of Nebraska. I would like to thank everyone who helped me along the way including my family, coaches, and teamates. Go Huskers! #GBR #MWC4L pic.twitter.com/minLEy6EY1— Scott Robertson (@Soctt_ROBERTSON) February 7, 2021
Robertson won a state title in Utah before moving to Omaha. As a junior last season for Millard South, Robertson finished sixth at state at 152 pounds but has turned things up this season. He’s 38-0 on the year and is ranked No. 2 in the state at 152 pounds by the NSWCA (Nebraska Scholastic Wrestling Coaches Association).
Robertson’s commitment gives Nebraska three for the class of 2022, as he will join his teammate at Millard South Antrell Taylor and Harley Andrews out of Oklahoma. Taylor is ranked No. 9 in the country at 160 pounds (No. 1 in Nebraska) and Andrews is No. 7 at 220 pounds and looks to be Nebraska’s future heavyweight.
Nebraska’s starter Christian Lance is ranked No. 11 in the country after rattling off six straight wins, including a win over then-No. 5 Trent Hilger of Wisconsin. Lance’s only losses were a 23-8 loss by tech fall to No. 1 Gable Steveson, who beats almost everyone by tech fall or pinfall (Steveson beat No. 8 Luke Luffman of Illinois by pinfall in 34 seconds over the weekend - video below), and a 4-0 decision loss to No. 3 Tony Cassioppi of Iowa.
Up next for Lance will be No. 8 Luffman on Feb. 21 when the Huskers travel to take on the Illini. With top-ranked Steveson, No. 2 Mason Parris of Michigan, and No. 3 Cassioppi being the clear-cut top three in the Big Ten, Lance and Luffman may just be wrestling to see who will get the No. 4 seed at the upcoming Big Ten Championships.
But Lance isn’t all Nebraska has at 285 pounds. Backup and Wyoming transfer Cale Davidson is 6-0 on the year in extra matches and looks to be the heir apparent to Lance when he graduates. The former 197-pounder looks the part as a heavyweight and adds an element of height and length that Lance doesn’t have. He’s been impressive this year with two wins by pinfall and another by major decision.
Also at heavyweight for the Huskers is Landon Brown, a junior that came to Nebraska this season from the junior college ranks. He’s 1-0 on the year with his win being a pinfall in 1:35 against Minnesota’s Keaton Kluever.
Lovett and Hardy Conundrum
Sophomore Ridge Lovett has been Nebraska’s forgotten man this year. After filling in impressively as a true freshman at 133 pounds, Lovett outgrew the weight. He then moved up to 141 pounds but found himself behind All-American Chad Red Jr., the No. 6 141-pounder in the country.
That led to another move up this weekend when Lovett started Nebraska’s dual against Michigan State at 149 pounds. True freshman Brock Hardy has been manning the 149 slot this season and started for the Huskers against Indiana earlier in the day.
Lovett beat Michigan State’s Peyton Omania 13-3 by major decision and is 4-0 on the year, while Hardy is 4-3 on the year and is ranked No. 23 in the country. So, it’s interesting that the Husker coaches decided to insert Lovett into the starting spot. There has to be a strategy at play here, so I’m going to take a stab at what they may be up to with this move.
Obviously, Lovett proved to be solid in his debut at 149, so I could see him getting the nod there for the rest of the season. Hardy, who is a fairly big 149-pounder, could definitely move up to 157 pounds, where the Huskers have struggled with senior Caleb Licking going 2-4 and freshman Kevon Davenport going 0-2 this year.
So, at 149 and 157, I’d be more comfortable about the upside of a Lovett-Hardy lineup than a Hardy-Licking duo. Not only does it get Lovett off the bench and into the starting lineup, but it also maybe allows Hardy to bump up to a more comfortable weight class.