The No. 7 Nebraska wrestling team flexed its muscles on the Big Ten’s little guys on Saturday afternoon, downing both No. 23 Michigan State and Indiana to improve to 6-1 on the year.
Nebraska won 18 of the 20 individual dual matchups with the only losses coming against guys that haven’t been in the Husker starting lineup much this season. For Nebraska, it was a statement that they deserve to be talked about as one of the elite teams this year.
The Huskers shut out the Hoosiers 47-0 in their second shutout win of the year. They then beat the Spartans soundly 27-10.
*FloWrestling individual rankings used
Nebraska’s No. 6 Liam Cronin comes in having a solid year and took advantage of his opportunity to face off against two solid Big Ten wrestlers in one day and took home a pair of wins. The Husker senior improved to 6-1 on the year.
Cronin, a former Hoosier, took on Indiana’s Jacob Moran to start the day for the Huskers. Cronin worked for an early takedown but a Moran escape cut the Husker’s lead to 2-1. In the second period, Cronin scored an escape after starting on bottom to go up 3-1. In the final period, Cronin started on top and rode Moran until he got riding time over a minute before Moran scored a late escape. Cronin fended off the Hoosier’s attacks to end the match and hold on for a 4-2 decision with the riding time point.
In a highly anticipated match, Cronin faced off against Michigan State’s No. 13 Rayvon Foley. Unfortunately, the video feed for BTN plus wasn’t up until midway through the 133-pound match, so I wasn’t able to watch it.
And it sounds like it was a good one, as Cronin won a tight 14-13 decision over the Spartan to give the Huskers a 3-0 lead.
Team Score: Nebraska 3, Indiana 0
Team Score: Nebraska 3, Michigan State 0
Sophomore Alex Thomsen started in Nebraska’s dual against Indiana. It wasn’t always pretty, in fact it was never anything close to pretty, until the very end. Thomsen picked up an unlikely win to improve to 2-3 on the year.
Thomsen got the start against Indiana’s Kyle Luigs and things didn’t start well for the Husker sophomore. Luig scored a takedown on the edge of the mat before tilting Thomsen for four nearfall points to go up 6-0. In the second, Thomsen started on bottom and Luigs scored four more nearfall points when he again tilted Thomsen to go up 10-0. Not long after, Thomsen reversed Luigs into a side headlock of his own and put the Hoosier on his back for a come-from-behind win by pinfall at the 3:53 mark while he was trailing 10-0.
133 | Alex Thomsen trailed 10-0 before ending this one early with a pin ⚡️ (3:53) pic.twitter.com/9Pj9UlS5Hv— Husker Wrestling (@HuskerWrestling) February 6, 2021
Tucker Sjomeling got the start for the Huskers against Michigan State’s Jordan Hamdan. The BTN plus feed came in with the match tied at 4-all and it was all Sjomeling from there. The junior scored two takedowns and two escapes to pick up a 10-4 decision win and improve to 3-2 on the year (1-1 in duals).
Team Score: Nebraska 9, Indiana 0
Team Score: Nebraska 6, Michigan State 0
Nebraska’s No. 6 Chad Red Jr. was dominant on Saturday as he picked up two wins to improve to 7-1 on the year.
Red started things off fast against Indiana’s Cayden Rooks when he hit a fast takedown and quickly put the Hoosier in a cradle and put him on his back for a pinfall at the one minute mark.
141 | RED ALERT BACK-TO-BACK PINS ❗️— Husker Wrestling (@HuskerWrestling) February 6, 2021
Red pins Rooks (1:00) and Huskers lead 15-0. pic.twitter.com/JiQYdenDh4
Against Michigan State’s Jaden Enriquez, Red was able to take the junior Spartan down with ease and hold him down as long as he wanted. Red scored two takedowns and an escape on the way to a 6-1 decision where he was only scored on when he cut Enriquez loose late in the second period.
Team Score: Nebraska 15, Indiana 0
Team Score: Nebraska 9, Michigan State 0
No. 22 Brock Hardy got the start against Indiana for Nebraska and including a win in the extra matches, improving to 4-3 on the year.
Against Indiana’s Jonathan Moran, who was filling in for No. 14 Graham Rooks, Hardy wasted little time as he scored a quick takedown and put Moran in a cradle and turned him over onto his back to record the pin in 51 seconds for the third straight pinfall win for the Huskers against the Hoosiers.
After starting at 133 pounds a year ago, sophomore Ridge Lovett has been listed at 141 pounds and wrestled there in a pair of extra matches this season. Stuck behind Red at 141, Lovett has moved up to 149 pounds and got the start against the Spartans.
Against Michigan State’s Peyton Omania, Lovett showcased his infamous ability to ride an opponent from the top. It was unclear if this skill of his would translate as well to higher weight classes, but it sure looked that way on Saturday. Lovett took Omania down in the first period and rode him out to the end. In the second period, Lovett started on bottom, scored an escape and another takedown followed by a ride-out.
In the third, Omania chose a neutral start, which is something that typically happens in wrestling when the wrestler’s opponent is good in the top position. After getting taken down and cut loose by Omania, Lovett scored another takedown of his own to go up 8-3. The Husker then turned Omania and put him in danger as he racked up four nearfall points. With the additional riding time point, Lovett won his first dual match of the year 13-3 by major decision.
Lovett also won his extra match by major decision, improving to 4-0 on the year.
Team Score: Nebraska 21, Indiana 0
Team Score: Nebraska 13, Michigan State 0
Caleb Licking has struggled this year but found a way to get his second win of the season on Saturday, improving to 2-4.
Against Indiana’s Matt Ortiz, Licking did well to control things throughout the match, as he scored takedowns in the first and third periods on the way to a 6-0 decision win. After the match, it seemed like Licking was injured in some way but it was unclear what happened.
Nebraska went with sophomore Jevon Parrish at 157 pounds against the Spartans. Listed at 149, Parrish bumped up to fill in for Licking. It didn’t go well for the Husker, as Michigan State’s Chase Saldate had his way with Parrish on the way to an 8-0 major decision loss for Parrish. Parrish falls to 2-3 on the year with the loss.
Team Score: Nebraska 24, Indiana 0
Team Score: Nebraska 13, Michigan State 4
No. 18 Peyton Robb continues to improve as the year goes on. The sophomore improved to 6-2 on the year with a pair of wins.
Robb faced off against Indiana’s Nick South, who came out firing with a quick takedown of Robb on a fireman’s carry. Robb quickly escaped and eventually took a 3-2 lead on a fireman’s carry takedown of his own before riding out South for the rest of the period. Robb added to his lead with an escape and another takedown in the second as time expired. In the third, Robb took South down again and scored another point on a stalling call on South. With the riding time point, Robb records the 10-2 major decision victory.
Against Michigan State’s Caleb Fish, Robb didn’t leave much doubt as he scored four takedowns on the way to a 10-3 decision victory.
Team Score: Nebraska 28, Indiana 0
Team Score: Nebraska 16, Michigan State 4
No. 3 Mikey Labriola continues to impress as he won two matches, staying undefeated at 7-0 on the year for the Huskers. Labriola faced his biggest test of the season against Indiana and showed that he’s at a new level as a junior.
In the marquee matchup of the dual, Labriola took on Indiana’s No. 6 DJ Washington. Labriola showed why he’s one of the best in the country with a quick takedown into a cradle. Labriola put Washington on his back to get four nearfall points to go up 6-0 before riding out the period. Labriola added three more in the second period with an escape and a slick duck-under for a takedown.
The Husker All-American started the third with another takedown to extend his lead to 11-0, but Washington put a big scare into the Huskers when he escaped, turned and immediately took Labriola down and put him in a cradle and got him on his back for nearfall points. Labriola nearly gave up the pin but was able to squeeze out. After Washington cut Labriola loose, the Husker was able to fend off the late-match push and hold on to a 13-7 win with the riding time point.
Against Michigan State’s Nathan Jimenez, Labriola was dominant. The Husker had two first-period takedowns before adding three more to go up 11-3 after two periods. In the third, Labriola got another takedown and two nearfall points to finish a 16-4 major decision win.
Team Score: Nebraska 31, Indiana 0
Team Score: Nebraska 20, Michigan State 4
Nebraska went with true freshman Nathan Haas here rather than No. 11 Taylor Venz. It’s unclear why Venz didn’t wrestle. This isn’t new territory for the freshman Haas though, as he filled in for Venz in the season’s first dual, earning a 5-2 win over then-No. 18 Owen Webster of Minnesota.
On Saturday, Haas went 1-1 overall and is now 2-2 on the year. He’s 2-1 in duals.
Against Indiana, Haas took on fellow true freshman Drayton Harris. Haas was clearly the better wrestler in this one, as he built a 5-0 lead before giving up his first point on an escape. In all, Haas was in control for the entirety of the match and racked up five takedowns on the way to a 12-3 major decision victory.
Against Michigan State’s No. 12 Layne Malczewski, Haas found out he has a ways to go if he wants to be at the top someday. The Spartan was instantly in on a shot at the opening whistle against Haas and worked from the top until getting the Husker on his back for a pin at the 1:38 mark.
Team Score: Nebraska 35, Indiana 0
Team Score: Nebraska 20, Michigan State 10
For Nebraska’s No. 2 Eric Schultz, he passed another big test as he went a perfect 2-0 on the day to improve to 7-0 on the year.
Against Indiana’s Nick Willham, Schultz came out firing as he picked up two quick takedowns to go up 4-2 going into the second period. After giving up an escape, Schultz blasted through the Hoosier for another takedown before cutting him loose for an escape. In the following exchange, while the wrestlers were tied up their heads collided and Willham came out of it holding his mouth and teeth. The match ended there with Schultz picking up a win by injury default.
In possibly the most anticipated match of the entire triangular, Schultz took on No. 8 Cam Caffey of Michigan State. Caffey wrestled at 184 pounds last year and he looked noticeably bigger than Schultz on Saturday. I honestly can’t even fathom how Caffey was able to make 184 last year.
Caffey started things off by muscling Schultz to the edge for an early takedown. Schultz quickly escaped and the two men exchanged attacks for the remainder of the first period.
In the second, Schultz started on bottom and scored a quick escape and a takedown to go up 4-2. Schultz then gave up an escape before the Husker scored another takedown. A late escape was called for Caffey and the Huskers challenged the call. After review, the call stood as an escape and Schultz took his 6-4 lead into the final period.
Schultz gave up an escape to start the third, cutting his lead to 6-5. With Caffey desperate for a takedown, Schultz exhibited impressive defense as he stuffed Caffey’s shots, worked the big Spartan’s head around and controlled the pace and direction of the match, holding on for the 6-5 decision win.
With this win, Schultz now has wins this season over wrestlers currently ranked Nos. 4, 7 and 8.
Team Score: Nebraska 41, Indiana 0
Team Score: Nebraska 23-10
Nebraska’s No. 10 Christian Lance continues his hot streak as he went 2-0 on the day, improving to 6-2 on the year.
In his first matchup of the day, Lance took on Indiana’s Jacob Bullock. Early in the match, Bullock went down with an apparent non-contact knee injury. The trainers taped it up and Bullock went back out there against Lance. Shortly after, Lance hit a takedown on a go-behind and Bullock again came up noticeably in pain. The match ended there for the second straight Husker win by injury default.
Against Michigan State’s Christian Rebottaro, Lance was able to get to the Spartan’s ankle easily. Three times in the match, Lance was able to just pluck Rebottaro’s front ankle up off the mat to get a takedown. Lance scored five total takedowns on the way to a 12-4 major decision win.
Team Score: Nebraska 47, Indiana 0
Team Score: Nebraska 27, Michigan State 10
As mentioned, Lovett and Hardy each won extra matches in addition to their dual wins. Lovett won a 6-0 decision over Michigan State’s Eddie Homrock, while Hardy downed Michigan State’s Jackson Renicker 10-0 by major decision.
Cale Davidson continues to impress at heavyweight behind Lance. The junior went 3-0 on Saturday in extra matches to improve to a perfect 6-0 on the year. Davidson beat Michigan State’s Brad Wilton 5-1 while also pinning Indiana’s Andrew Irick at the 2:30 mark of the first period. Davidson also beat Indiana’s Rudy Streck 7-1 by decision.
The only other win for the Huskers in the extra matches was by true freshman Brandyn Van Tassell, who downed Indiana’s Sean Grim 15-0 by technical fall. Van Tassell also fell to Michigan State’s Austen Malczewski 7-2, evening his season record up at 2-2.
True freshman Jeremiah Reno lost a tight 3-2 decision to Michigan State’s Andrew Chambal at 133 pounds, falling to 0-2 on the year, while Jordan Kelber fell to 1-1 on the year after losing to Michigan State’s Matt Santos 9-5.
Making his season debut was true freshman Dominick Serrano who took on Michigan State’s Andrew Chambal at 133 pounds. Serrano fell to the Spartan 6-4 in sudden victory.
Redshirt freshman Isaiah Alford made his season debut, wrestling three extra matches for the Huskers. At 165 pounds, Alford fell to No. 17 Jake Tucker 23-7 by tech fall while getting pinned by Indiana’s Sammy Cokeley in the second period. At 174, Alford fell to Indiana’s Robert Deters 10-7.
What’s Next for Nebraska?
The Huskers travel on Feb. 21 to take on No. 9 Illinois in Champaign, Ill. The dual will be Nebraska’s regular season finale before the Big Ten Championships on March 6-7.
With a bye week this coming weekend, don’t be surprised if we hear news about a rescheduled date for the Nebraska-Rutgers dual that was supposed to take place on Saturday.