Things may not be going Nebraska’s way in the team race, but the Huskers still have a lot to root for as two of their best have battled their way up the podium and will seek third-place finishes Saturday morning.
Nebraska has 33.5 team points and sits in 11th place after two days of the 2021 NCAA Wrestling Championships at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Mo. Iowa (109) and Penn State (94.5) are in a showdown for the team title while Oklahoma State (86.5) lurks not far behind. Arizona State is in fourth with 67 points. Penn State has four wrestlers in Saturday’s finals while Iowa has only three so the Nittany Lions have a slim chance at catching the Hawkeyes.
Nebraska went 6-3 as a team in Thursday’s first round that saw 2-seed Eric Schultz fall in the tournament’s biggest upset before finishing 4-5 on Thursday night in the second round and consolations.
On Friday, the Huskers saw six of their wrestlers get knocked out of the tournament but also had two secure All-American status by making some noise in the consolation bracket.
The medal rounds can be seen Saturday on ESPN2 starting at 10 a.m. while the finals will air on ESPN Saturday night at 6 p.m. central.
After going 1-1 on the first day of the tournament, Nebraska’s 13-seed Cronin wrestled Friday morning in the second round of the consolation bracket against 14-seed Jaret Lane of Lehigh.
In a wild match, Cronin took an early lead with a takedown in the first period before falling behind 8-2 after getting taken down and put on his back. Cronin scored a reversal to cut the lead to 8-4. Cronin slowly cut into Lane’s lead in the second period as he scored two takedowns and two escapes to go into the third down 12-9.
In the third period, Cronin scored a quick escape and followed that up with a takedown to tie the match at 12-all with 1:07 left in the match. With riding time close to a minute, Cronin just needed to ride Lane for a short time but the Husker was content cutting Lane loose, not only falling behind 13-12 but also stopping his riding time at 54 seconds. Cronin bet on himself to be able to get a takedown in the final minute but fell short by a point and was knocked out of the tournament.
Tournament Finish: DNP, 1-2 record, 3 team points scored.
They call him Mr. March for a reason. Nebraska’s 8-seed Chad Red Jr. had a stellar day as he plowed through the consolation bracket on the way to Saturday morning’s consolation semis. Along the way, Red secured All-American status for the fourth time in his career.
Hey @_cjred, how many times have you been an All-American? pic.twitter.com/vimfC6BmoR— Husker Wrestling (@HuskerWrestling) March 20, 2021
After falling in the second round on Thursday, Red fell to the consolation second round where he had a tough matchup against 7-seed Ian Parker of Iowa State. Red took an early 6-0 lead with a takedown and nearfall points on the way to a 12-8 decision over the Cyclone.
Red then took on 18-seed Parker Filius of Purdue in the consolation third round. Red scored a first-period takedown before riding out the Boilermaker. Red then scored a reversal and a takedown in the second to go up 6-1. In the third, Redd was able to add on just enough points to earn an 11-3 major decision and a move to the consolation fourth round, also known as the blood round because a win guarantees All-American status (Top-8 finish).
In the consolation fourth round, Red faced 6-seed Allan Hart of Missouri. Hart struck first with a takedown before Red tied things up with a reversal straight into a cradle. Right on the edge of the mat in front of the Husker coaches’ corner, Red put Hard on his back for four nearfall points and a near pin while dragging his toe in bounds. A Hart escape cut Red’s lead to 6-3 after one period.
In the second, Hart scored a second-period escape but Red countered with a third-period escape before Hart took Red down to tie the match at 7-all, taking Red’s riding time under a minute in the process. Needing an escape to break the tie, Red got one with 20 seconds and was able to hold off the Tiger in the end for a tight 8-7 win.
In the consolation round of four, Red faced 10-seed Zach Sherman of North Carolina. Sherman scored the first takedown, but Red reversed him with one of his patented cartwheels. Sherman then scored an escape to end the first period and another in the second to go up 4-2 heading into the third period. Red scored an escape to cut the Sherman lead to 4-3 (although Red had riding time over a minute, making the match essentially a 4-all tie) and Red was unable to score before the end of regulation.
The match went to sudden victory, a one-minute extra period where the first score wins. That period went scoreless between Red and Sherman.
Then came the tie-breakers (two 30-second period in which each wrestler starts on bottom once and whoever scores more after both periods wins). Red started the first tiebreaker on top and was able to ride out Sherman for the 30 seconds and didn’t give up the escape. In the second tiebreaker, Sherman conced the escape point and elected to start neutral. Red, up 5-4, was able to fend off Sherman’s offense for the win.
Red is 5-1 this week and will face 4-seed Tariq Wilson of NC State in Saturday morning’s consolation semifinal.
After falling to 12-seed Max Murin in the second round Thursday, Nebraska’s 5-seed took on 27-seed Josh Finesilver of Duke Friday morning in the consolation bracket.
The Husker sophomore took an early 2-0 lead before conceding an escape. Finesilver was able to get to Lovett’s leg and got it elevated high off the mat. Lovett tried to roll through to get free but got caught by Finesilver on his back where the Blue Devil got the big upset win by pinfall, ending Lovett’s season.
Tournament Finish: DNP, 1-2 record, 1 team point scored.
Nebraska’s 29-seed Caleb Licking saw his tournament end on Thursday with a 0-2 record.
Tournament Finish: DNP, 0-2 record, 0 team points scored.
After going 1-1 in the opening day, Nebraska’s 14-seed Peyton Robb took on 20-seed Cole Moody of Wyoming in the consolation second round.
Robb used a takedown and six total nearfall points to take an 8-1 lead in the first period, but Moody scored an escape and a takedown in the second to cut Robb’s lead to 8-4. In the third, Robb was cut loose by Moody and the Husker immediately blew through for a takedown. In a late flurry, Moody and Robb each scored a takedown and an escape with Robb coming out on top 15-7 by major decision with the riding-time point.
Robb faced 11-seed Cam Amine of Michigan in the consolation third round, a rematch of the Big Ten’s third-place match that Robb lost.
Amine scored a first-period takedown while Robb tied the match at 3-all with a second-period takedown. A late escape gave Amine the lead going into the third period. Robb started on bottom in the third and tied the match at 4-all with an escape. As both wrestlers hunted for an opening, it was Amine who came out on top when he secured the deciding takedown with 15 seconds left, dropping Robb 6-4.
Tournament Finish: DNP, 2-2 record, 2.5 team points scored.
Nebraska’s 4-seed Mikey Labriola started Friday with a quarterfinal match against 12-seed Bernie Truax of Cal Poly.
Labriola started the scoring with a first-period takedown before conceding an escape. Labriola chose the bottom position to start the second period but Truax put on a seriously solid ride as he rode out Labriola for the full two minutes. Labriola couldn’t break through Truax’s defense in the match, losing 4-2 by decision.
Labriola fell to the blood round where he faced 16-seed Clay Lautt of North Carolina. Labriola scored a quick takedown before upping his lead with another takedown and an escape in the second. Labriola got another takedown and secured riding time in the third period for an 8-4 decision win.
Labriola moved on to the consolation round of four where he faced off against 8-seed Daniel Bullard of NC State. Through the first two periods, Labriola got two takedowns to Bullard’s three escapes. After choosing neutral to start the third, Labriola got another takedown and gave up an escape to secure the 7-4 win with the riding-time point.
Labriola is currently 4-1 in the tournament and advances to Saturday morning’s consolation semifinal match against 2-seed Demetrius Romero of Utah Valley.
Nebraska’s 8-seed Taylor Venz started the day with a tough assignment as he squared off against top-seed Aaron Brooks of Penn State in the quarterfinal round.
Venz fell behind 2-1 in the first period after getting taken down, but after choosing down to start the second period Venz grabbed a 3-2 lead on a reversal before Brooks escaped to tie things up. The Nittany Lion got another takedown to take a 5-3 lead into the third.
In the final period, Venz gave up a takedown and an escape to Brooks while scoring a late escape, falling to Brooks 9-4.
Venz fell to the blood round where he faced 11-seed Dakota Geer of Oklahoma State. Geer took the early lead with a first-period takedown before Venz scored on an escape. Geer then scored the next five points of the match on the way to downing the Husker senior 8-2, ending his tournament and his season.
Tournament Finish: DNP, 2-2 record, 3.5 team points scored.
After a disappointing first day, Nebraska’s 2-seed Eric Schultz started Friday with a match against 16-seed Jake Jakobsen of Lehigh in the consolation second round.
Schultz scored two first-period takedowns before adding two more in the second period to go up 8-2 going into the third. Schultz chose bottom in the third and was nearly ridden out before a last-second reversal gave him the major decision win 10-2.
In the consolation third round, Schultz took on Missouri’s 7-seed Rocky Elam. Elam started things off with a big lift before driving Schultz into the mat and putting him on his back for two nearfall points. Elam added another takedown later in the first to go up 6-1 into the second period. Elam scored on a second-period escape and a pair of third-period takedowns on the way to the 12-3 major decision win over Schultz.
Tournament Finish: DNP, 2-2 record, 2 team points scored.
Nebraska’s 12-seed Christian Lance saw his season end in the consolation second round against Missouri’s 11-seed Zach Elam.
The match went to sudden victory tied at 1-all but it was Elam who came out with the overtime takedown and the 3-1 win.