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Wrestling: Huskers Put Three Into Finals

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Nebraska will have three finalists Sunday while others attempt to wrestle back

Nebraska’s 6-seed Taylor Venz at 184 pounds finds himself in Sunday’s final against top-seeded Aaron Brooks of Penn State.
Jon Johnston / Corn Nation

After a strong Session I, the No. 8 Nebraska wrestling team finds itself in third place after Session II on Saturday night. The Huskers went 3-4 in the semifinal round with one loss being a medical forfeit by Christian Lance at heavyweight.

Iowa leads things with 126.5 points, while Penn State is in second with 111.5 points and the Huskers sit in third place with 88 points. Michigan sits in fourth with 76 points.

In Session II, Nebraska struggled at times, finishing 5-7 in their semifinal and consolation matches. But the Huskers do have three Big Ten finalists in Ridge Lovett, Taylor Venz and Eric Schultz.

The Huskers will be back in action tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. Central with the consolation matches on BTN+ before the finals Sunday at 3 p.m. on BTN.

Weight-By-Weight Breakdown

125 pounds

The Huskers fell way short of expectations here, as the 2-seed Liam Cronin went 0-2 and was bounced from the tournament early on.

After falling in the quarterfinal round to Purdue’s 7-seed Devin Schroder, Cronin fell to 8-seed Michael DeAugustino of Northwestern 4-1 in the consolation bracket. Cronin just hasn’t been able to get any offense going in the tournament.

Cronin will move on to face 13-seed Dylan Shawver of Rutgers in the semifinal round of the 9th-place bracket Sunday morning.

133 pounds

After falling to 2-seed Austin DeSanto in a hard-fought match in in the quarterfinals, Nebraska’s Tucker Sjomeling again came up just short in the consolation bracket.

Against 9-seed Kyle Burwick of Wisconsin, Sjomeling fell behind early but was able to cut the deficit to one with a third-period reversal, but the Badger scored a reversal of his own in the third period to down the Husker 6-3.

Sjomeling went on to down 14-seed Shane Metzler of Rutgers by pinfall when he was up 16-2 to start the 9th-place bracket. Sjomeling will move on to the ninth-place match against either 5-seed Jack Medley of Michigan or 13-seed Jackson Cockrell of Maryland.

141 pounds

Nebraska’s 4-seed Chad Red Jr. started the day with a pair of major decision wins but again ran into a buzzsaw in top-seeded Jaydin Eierman of Iowa. Eierman built up a 6-0 lead in the third and won 7-1 with Red’s only point being an escape when Eierman simply let him go.

Red moves on to the consolation semifinal to face Valdiviez, who’s won three straight in the consolation bracket since losing to Red in the first round by major decision.

149 pounds

After upsetting 2-seed Max Murin of Iowa, Nebraska’s 7-seed Ridge Lovett followed that performance with an encore in the semis. Lovett found a way to down 6-seed Michael Blockhus of Minnesota 2-1 in the tiebreaker period.

After a scoreless first period, Lovett was able to rack up 49 seconds of riding time in the second period before a Blockhus escape put the Badger up 1-0. Lovett scored an escape of his own to start the third period, and the two went into sudden victory tied 1-all.

The two wrestled for a scoreless minute and moved to two tiebreaker rounds, where each wrestler gets 30 seconds starting from the top position. In the first tiebreaker period, Lovett scored a quick escape to go up 2-1. Lovett, who is known for his abilities in top position, started on top in TB-2 and was able to get both of his legs in and flatten Blockhus out for a ride-out and a 2-1 win.

Lovett will take on top-seeded Sammy Sasso of Ohio State in Sunday’s final.

157 pounds

After getting pinned in the first round, Nebraska’s 10-seed Caleb Licking earned his first win of the tournament with a 2-1 decision over 9-seed Elijah Cleary of Ohio State in the second round of the consolation bracket.

In the consolation quarters, Licking fell to 5-seed Brady Berge of Penn State 12-2 by major decision. Licking will face 6-seed Will Lewan of Michigan in the 7th-place match on Sunday.

165 pounds

After upsetting 2-seed Dan Braunagel in the quarters, Robb wrestled tough but fell short against 3-seed Ethan Smith of Ohio State in the semifinal round.

After a scoreless first period, Robb fell behind 3-0 before scoring a reversal on a beautiful granby roll to cut the lead to 3-2. Robb scored a quick escape to start the third period and the match went to sudden victory tied at 3-all.

In sudden victory, Robb was in on a shot but Smith was able to scramble and counter the attempt for a takedown of his own. Robb fell to Smith 5-3 and moves onto the consolation semifinal round to face 9-seed Geritt Nijenhuis of Purdue.

174 pounds

After surviving a scare in the quarterfinal round, Nebraska’s 2-seed Mikey Labriola took on Penn State’s freshman phenom Carter Starocci in the semis. The 3-seed Nittany Lion proved to be game.

After a scoreless first period, Labriola fell behind 1-0 on a Starocci escape in the second. In the third, Labriola scored a quick escape of his own to tie the match up. Labriola was in on a shot late in the third that looked to be almost a takedown. A challenge brick was thrown, but it was ruled no takedown, so the match went to sudden victory.

In sudden victory, the two took part in a scramble that saw Starocci come out on top, upsetting the Husker junior 3-1.

Labriola moves on to face five-seed DJ Washington of Indiana in Sunday’s consolation semifinal round.

184 pounds

March Taylor Venz continues to impress. Nebraska’s sixth-seeded senior beat both No. 3 Layne Malczewski of Michigan State and No. 2 Chris Weiler of Wisconsin. And he did so fairly handily.

After downing Malczewski 13-6, Venz controlled Weiler in their semifinal matchup on the way to a 10-3 decision. Venz used three takedowns and a reversal to advance to Sunday’s final against top-seeded Aaron Brooks.

As I mentioned in the preview, Venz is the only wrestler to ever beat Penn State’s Brooks in college, so it’ll be an interesting final.

197 pounds

After a workmanlike 2-0 win in the quarters, Schultz pulled off an equally technical win in the semis. Nebraska’s 1-seed Eric Schultz dropped 4-seed Cam Caffey 2-1 in a lethargic affair. Schultz scored on an escape and a stalling call on Caffey, while the Spartan scored an escape in the third period.

Schultz moves to Sunday’s final to face 2-seed Myles Amine.

285 pounds

After a solid Session I, Nebraska’s 5-seed Christian Lance was forced to forfeit his semifinal match against top-seeded Gable Steveson due to a shoulder injury.

Lance downed Purdue’s 12-seed Dorian Keys 4-0 in the first round and 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 finish in sixth place after defaulting out.

Final Result: 6th Place, 2-1 Injury Default