The No. 8 Nebraska wrestling team arrived to the Big Ten Championships and means business. The Huskers went 13-3 in the first and quarterfinal rounds.
Nebraska has an astounding seven wrestlers in the semifinals, while top-ranked Iowa has eight. Michigan has five and Penn State has four. The Huskers sit in second place with 63 team points. As it sits right now, Iowa leads with 75.5 and Michigan is a distant third with 47.5.
The Huskers will be back in action tonight at 6:30 p.m. Central on BTN for the semifinal round. The consolation matches will air on BTN+.
In probably the lone major disappointment so far for the Huskers is that 2-seed Liam Cronin lost his first match, a 3-1 decision in sudden victory to 7-seed Devin Schroder of Purdue. Up next for Cronin is a consolation match against 8-seed Michael DeAugustino of Northwestern.
Cronin will have to work his way through the consolation bracket if he wants a chance at third place.
Tucker Sjomeling earned a win by forfeit in the first round, so his quarterfinal matchup against 2-seed Austin DeSanto was his only match so far. Going against a guy who puts up nearly 20 points a match in DeSanto, Sjomeling exhibited some very impressive defense in fighting off the Hawkeye in a scoreless first period. DeSanto then scored a second-period escape and finally got in on his offense with 30 seconds left when he took Sjomeling down.
In the final period, Sjomeling got an escape but wasn’t able to get any offense going. DeSanto took a hard-fought 4-1 decision, but Sjomeling showed he’s game against one of the best in the country.
Sjomeling will face off against 9-seed Kyle Burwick of Wisconsin in the consolation bracket tonight.
Nebraska’s 4-seed Chad Red Jr. won both of his matches in Session I, as the senior downed 13-seed Colin Valdiviez 10-2 by major decision before beating 5-seed Dylan Duncan convincingly in a 12-3 major decision.
Red looks impressive, but so has top-seeded Jaydin Eierman, the last man to beat Red. Eierman pinned 9-seed Parker Fillius of Purdue in the second period in the quarterfinal round. Red will get another shot at Eierman tonight in the semis.
Boy, did I call this one. Nebraska’s 7-seed Ridge Lovett tore through the bottom of the bracket in Session I. The sophomore first beat 10-seed Graham Rooks 6-1 before upsetting 2-seed Max Murin of Iowa 11-6.
Lovett used a first-period upper body throw to bury Murin in a 6-0 hole that the Hawkeye couldn’t dig out of.
We Lovett, you Lovett, everybody Lovett. ❤️— Nebraska On BTN (@NebraskaOnBTN) March 6, 2021
A closer look at one of the biggest upsets of the afternoon, @RidgeLovett over the two seed Max Murin.@HuskerWrestling // @trackwrestling pic.twitter.com/PXc8sf2upA
Up next for Lovett is a semifinal match against 6-seed Michael Blockhus of Minnesota.
Nebraska’s 10-seed Caleb Licking started off strong against 7-seed Chase Saldate of Michigan State, taking a 3-2 lead into the second period, but Saldate was able to get Licking on his back for the pin.
Licking will next face 9-seed Eliah Cleary of Ohio State in the consolation bracket tonight.
This is where Nebraska really started to turn things up. Nebraska’s 7-seed Peyton Robb starts a Husker run of five straight guys into the semifinals.
Robb started things off by beating 10-seed Nick South of Indiana 10-4 in the first round before upsetting 2-seed Dan Braunagel of Illinois 9-5 in the quarterfinal round. Robb used three takedowns and a reversal to down the undefeated Braunagel.
Next up for Robb is a semifinal matchup against 3-seed Ethan Smith of Ohio State.
Nebraska’s 2-seed Mikey Labriola survived a scare in the quarterfinal round to advance to tonight’s semifinal. After going up 6-3 going into the third, there was a wild exchange that even had the scorekeepers and announcers confused about what the scoring was. Labriola used a late takedown to earn the win, an 11-9 decision with the riding time point.
Labriola is going to have to turn things up if he wants to beat 3-seed Carter Starocci of Penn State in tonight’s semifinal.
Another Husker outperforming his seed was 6-seed Taylor Venz, who went 2-0 and is moving onto the semifinal round.
Venz started things off with a win by pinfall over 11-seed Kyle Cochran before getting up and screaming “Bonus points, baby!” in celebration.
Venz then went on to upset 3-seed Layne Malczewski of Michigan State 13-6 in a dominant effort. Venz moves on to face 2-seed Chris Weiler of Wisconsin in tonight’s semifinal round.
Nebraska’s 1-seed Eric Schultz gutted out a tough 2-0 win over 9-seed Gavin Hoffman of Ohio State. Schultz scored a second-period escape before riding Hoffman out in the third for a riding time point.
Schultz moves on to tonight’s semifinal against 4-seed Cam Caffey of Michigan State, who beat 5-seed Lucas Davison 6-5 in the quarterfinal round.
Nebraska’s 5-seed Christian Lance exacted some revenge in Session I, as he went 2-0 to advance to tonight’s semis.
After downing Purdue’s 12-seed Dorian Keys 4-0 in the first round, Lance took on Illinois’ Luke Luffman in the quarters. In an almost identical match to their showdown in the regular season, the two went to sudden victory tied at 1-all. This time though it was Lance who scored the overtime takedown, winning 3-1.
Lance will face top-seeded Gable Steveson tonight. That’s a tough draw for Lance, but he’s not going to back down to the Golden Gopher.