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Wrestling: Huskers Take Down Fighting Illini 23-11

No. 8 Nebraska wins seven of 10 matches on way to third Big Ten win

Nebraska’s No. 10 Chad Red Jr. puts Illinois’ No. 11 Dylan Duncan on his back in the second period Sunday at the Devaney Center.
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

After falling short against a pair of top teams last weekend, the No. 8-ranked Huskers overwhelmed the Fighting Illini of Illinois 23-11 Sunday morning at the Devaney Center.

Nebraska started off slow but ended up winning seven of the 10 matchups with two wins coming with bonus points.

With both teams pretty much sending out their full lineups, it was a dual that could help determine seeding at Big Tens and NCAAs.

Match-By-Match Breakdown

*FloWrestling individual rankings used

133 pounds

Starting the dual at 133 pounds, Nebraska’s Dominick Serrano took on No. 5 Lucas Byrd of Illinois.

The Husker freshman was able to hold Byrd at bay in the first period, giving up just one takedown. But the talented Byrd opened things up in the final two periods with three takedowns, a reversal and a stalling point on Serrano.

Byrd improves to 18-1 on the year with the win while Serrano falls to 12-9.

Team Score: Illinois 4, Nebraska 0

141 pounds

In the match of the dual, this one was anything but ordinary. Nebraska’s No. 10 Chad Red Jr. took on No. 11 Dylan Duncan of Illinois.

After a scoreless first period, it didn’t take long for controversy to hit in the second. Starting on bottom, Red tried a couple granby rolls to escape but got caught on his back on his second attempt. The official swiped twice and threw two fingers down and held them there as if he was going to award Duncan with two nearfall points. Nebraska’s bench immediately threw the challenge brick, but the officials let the action go for over a minute before stopping it. In that time, Red was able to reverse Duncan near the edge once he got a leg, elevated it, and tripped Duncan.

After review, the officials decided that there was no nearfall points for Duncan, but that they were going to go back and resume action with 1:48 on the clock in the second period with Red on the bottom and the match scoreless.

Starting again, Red found a way to roll through from underneath for a reversal while catching Duncan on his back for four nearfall points and what appeared to be a pin, but the officials didn’t see it. Up 6-0, Red rode out Duncan for the remainder of the period.

In the third, Red started on top and built up to nearly two minutes of riding time before letting Duncan go. The Husker held off Duncan for the rest of the match to secure the 7-1 decision win.

With the victory, Red improves to 11-3 on the year.

Team Score: Illinois 4, Nebraska 3

149 pounds

Nebraska’s No. 6 Ridge Lovett kept the Husker momentum going against the Illini in his match against senior Christian Kanzler.

In a match that featured a lot of stalling from Kanzler, Lovett earned a stalling point in the first minute of the match. Lovett then scored a takedown on a go-behind before eventually giving up the escape to take a 3-1 lead into the second.

Nebraska’s No. 6 Ridge Lovett awaits any sort of activity from Illinois’ Christian Kanzler Sunday at the Devaney Center.
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

Lovett scored a quick escape in the second period before getting another stalling point on Kanzler. In the third period, Kanzler chose neutral and the period ended pretty uneventfully with Lovett securing the 6-1 win with riding time.

Team Score: Nebraska 6, Illinois 4

157 pounds

Next up was No. 8 Peyton Robb taking on Illinois’ Joe Roberts.

After a scoreless first period, Robb surrendered an escape to start the second and fell behind 1-0. Then while in a front headlock, Robb slipped out and pulled off a slick go-behind for a takedown and a 2-1 lead. Roberts was able to even things with an escape after a hard ride by Robb.

In the third, Robb was cut to start the period, increasing his lead to 3-2. Robb was able to hold off Roberts the rest of the period to sneak out with the 3-2 win.

Robb improves to 10-5 on the year.

Team Score: Nebraska 9, Illinois 4

165 pounds

In what looked like a coin flip on paper, Bubba Wilson of Nebraska struggled against Illinois’ Danny Braunagel.

After a scoreless first period, Wilson took a 1-0 lead with a quick escape to start the second. Braunagel then opened the match up when he locked up a cradle on Wilson and put the Husker on his back for a takedown and four nearfall points. Wilson then got an escape, but Braunagel scored another takedown late in the period to go up 8-2.

Nebraska’s Bubba Wilson (left) scrambles with Illinois’ Danny Braunagel in a dual match Sunday at the Devaney Center.
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

Braunagel then added an escape and takedown in the third to earn the 12-2 major decision victory.

With the loss, Wilson falls to 10-9 on the year.

Team Score: Nebraska 9, Illinois 8

174 pounds

Nebraska got the momentum right back after the intermission when No. 6 Mikey Labriola put it on No. 24 DJ Shannon.

Labriola scored two takedowns in the first period before adding another takedown in the second to go with a stall warning while riding out the period. In the third period, Labriola scored an escape and another takedown, but Shannon did get an escape at the last second.

Nebraska’s Mikey Labriola (right) works for a takedown against Illinois’ No. 24 DJ Shannon Sunday at the Devaney Center.

With the riding-time point, Labriola earned the 11-3 major decision and improves to 15-2 on the year.

Team Score: Nebraska 13, Illinois 8

184 pounds

Next up for the Huskers was No. 12 Taylor Venz taking on No. 21 Zac Braunagel.

In a rematch of a match that ended with Venz earning a major decision a year ago, Zac Braunagel turned the tables on Venz this year.

Braunagel scored three first-period takedowns to go up 6-2, but Venz cut the deficit with a second-period takedown. Braunagel then scored an escape and a takedown of his own to go up 9-4 heading into the third period.

In the final period, Venz got a quick escape, but Braunagel scored another takedown to go up 11-6 after cutting Venz in an attempt to get a major. He couldn’t get another takedown on Venz, but Braunagel really did control the majority of the match.

With the loss, Venz falls to 12-6 on the year

Team Score: Nebraska 13, Illinois 11

197 pounds

With the Huskers only ahead by two on the team score, No. 6 Eric Schultz continued his steady ways over Matt Wroblewski of Illinois.

After a scoreless first period, Schultz rode the Illinois junior for the entire second period. Then, in the third period, Schultz scored a quick escape to go up 1-0 with the riding-time point already locked up.

In was then that Schultz really turned things on against a tired opponent in Wroblewski. Schultz scored two third-period takedowns to earn the 6-2 decision win.

Schultz improves to 13-1 on the year with the win.

Team Score: Nebraska 16, Illinois 11

285 pounds

At heavyweight, Nebraska’s No. 10 Christian Lance faced off against No. 17 Luke Luffman of Illinois.

After a scoreless first period, Luffman scored first with an escape before Lance got a takedown on a low shot. Luffman tied the match at 2-all with an escape before the end of the period.

In the third, Lance took the lead back with an escape and extended that lead with a takedown on a counter shot. Lance cut Luffman loose and got another takedown late before conceding another escape.

Lance won the match 7-4 and improves to 13-5 on the season.

Team Score: Nebraska 19, Illinois 11

125 pounds

In what may have been the highlight of the dual, Nebraska freshman Jeremiah Reno earned his first career Big Ten victory over Illinois backup Dane Durlacher.

Reno scored a takedown in the first period before giving up a quick escape, taking a 2-1 lead into the second period. Reno then extended his lead in the second to 5-1 with an escape and takedown.

In the final period, Reno started on top and was able to tilt Durlacher for two nearfall points before giving up the escape. The young Husker then got a takedown on a counter shot to go up 9-2 and eventually earned the 10-2 major decision victory with the riding-time point.

Husker freshman Jeremiah Reno gets his hand raised after downing Illinois’ Dane Durlacher 10-2 via major decision for his first career Big Ten win Sunday at the Devaney Center.
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

With the win, Reno improves to 4-11 on the year.

Team Score: Nebraska 23, Illinois 11

What’s Next for Nebraska?

The Huskers will play host to No. 2 Iowa on Sunday, Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. The dual will be televised live on BTN.