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Wrestling: Huskers Sitting in 8th after Up-and-Down First Round

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Nebraska won six of its first seven matches before suffering upsets at 197 and 285 pounds, will continue action tonight

Nebraska’s 8-seed Chad Red Jr. won his first-round match at the 2021 NCAA Wrestling Championships to move on to tonight’s second round.
Jon Johnston / Corn Nation

For the Huskers, it was a first round filled with ups and downs.

The Nebraska wrestling team sits in eight place after the first round of action with 11.5 points. Iowa leads the pack with 19 points, while Penn State sits in second with 17. Missouri has 14 points and is currently third, while NC State and Arizona State sit in a tie for fourth with 13 points.

The Huskers went 6-3 in the first round with some bonus-point victories but they also suffered a couple heart-breaking defeats.

You can watch the second-round action on ESPN2 tonight at 5 p.m. Central.

Weight-By-Weight Breakdown

125 pounds

Nebraska got off to a hot start when 13-seed Liam Cronin took the mat at 125 pounds. Facing 20-seed Jake Ferri of Kent State, Cronin found himself in a hard-fought match. The Husker trailed 2-1 after the first period then was down 4-3 going into the third.

In the third, Ferri scored an escape to go up 5-3, but Cronin was obviously the fresher man in the end as he scored a takedown to tie the match at 5-all. Cronin conceded an escape point and went in for another takedown to take his first lead of the match in the final minute. Cronin threw Ferri from a double-underhook position and put him on his back. After collecting nearfall points, Cronin stuck Ferri for the win by pinfall, picking up two important team points along the way.

Cronin will face 4-seed Drew Hildebrandt of Central Michigan in tonight’s second round.

141 pounds

Nebraska’s 8-seed Chad Red Jr. got all that he could handle from 25-seed Drew Mattin of Michigan in the first round. Red instantly drove through Mattin for a takedown to start the match. After elevating Mattin’s leg, Red scored another takedown with a trip before riding out the period to take a 4-1 lead to the second period.

In the second period, Red scored on an acrobatic cartwheel for an escape (see below). In the third, Mattin cut the Red lead to 5-2 with an escape before scoring two late takedowns while giving up an escape in between to tie the match at 6-all. Luckily for Red, he scored the deciding point with riding time, which he piled up in the first period.

With the 7-6 decision win, Red moves on to face 9-seed Dresden Simon of Central Michigan in tonight’s second round.

149 pounds

The Huskers found themselves in another tight match with 5-seed Ridge Lovett taking on 28-seed Peyton Omania of Michigan State. Lovett beat Omania by major decision in the season, but Omania gave Lovett about as much as he could handle.

Omania built up an early 4-1 lead when Lovett scored a reversal to cut the Omania lead to 4-3 before riding out the period. Lovett scored the only points of the second period with an escape to tie things up at 4-all.

The third period, which Omania chose to start neutral rather than on bottom, was full of scrambles on the mat, but neither wrestler managed a score. In the one-minute sudden victory period, the two again engaged in a scramble on the mat, but Lovett came around for a takedown and a 6-4 decision win.

Lovett will face 12-seed Max Murin in tonight’s second round action.

157 pounds

Nebraska’s 28-seed Caleb Licking took on 5-seed Kaleb Young of Iowa in the first round. Despite showing his grit, Licking was outmatched by Young.

Young took Licking down four times and scored an escape while Licking was only able to score on a pair of escapes in the 10-2 major decision loss.

Licking moves down to the consolation bracket where he’ll first face 21-seed Andrew Cerniglia of Navy.

165 pounds

Nebraska’s 14-seed Peyton Robb was solid in his opening match against 19-seed Gerrit Nijenhuis of Purdue. After a nearly scoreless first period, Robb was able to shoot for a low single-leg attack to get a takedown with nine seconds left to go up 2-0. In the second, Robb started on top and rode Nijenhuis for well over a minute before surrendering the escape. Robb scored an escape of his own in the third to go up 3-1. The Husker fended off the Boilermaker’s attacks to end the match with a 4-1 decision victory after tacking on the riding time point.

Robb moves on to face 3-seed Jake Wentzel of Pitt in tonight’s second round.

174 pounds

Nebraska’s 4-seed Mikey Labriola earned a win via medical forfeit over 29-seed Lance Runyan of Northern Iowa.

Labriola will face 20-seed Trent Munoz of Arizona State in tonight’s second round.

184 pounds

Nebraska’s 8-seed was simply dominant against 25-seed Matthew Waddell of Chattanooga.

Venz instantly took Waddell down before scoring four nearfall points to go up 6-0 in the first period. In the second, Venz chose bottom and scored a quick escape before getting another takedown and four more nearfall points to go up 13-0.

Venz wasted little time in the third in lifting and downing Waddell for the 19-0 win by technical fall.

Venz moves on to face 9-seed Jeremiah Kent of Missouri in tonight’s second round.

197 pounds

In what was the upset of the tournament so far, Nebraska’s 2-seed Eric Schultz was stunned by 31-seed Owen Pentz of North Dakota State.

In a scoreless match, Pentz was able to throw Schultz and get him on his back before eventually sticking Schultz for the pin.

The loss knocks Schultz down to the consolations where he’ll need to win seven straight matches if he wants to finish in third place. He’ll start his consolation run against 18-seed Jacob Koser of Navy tonight.

285 pounds

Nebraska continued to struggle at the biggest weights as 12-seed Christian Lance was also upset in the first round. After beating 21-seed Tate Orndorff at the Big Ten tournament, 12-seed Lance lost to the Ohio State heavyweight 2-1 with the deciding factor being riding time in Orndorff’s favor.

Lance will face 28-seed Zachary Knighton-Ward of Hofstra tonight in the consolations.