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Wrestling: Huskers Fall Short in Comeback Bid Against Hawkeyes

No. 10 Nebraska saw big upsets by Mikey Labriola and Eric Schultz in near comeback win against No. 2 Iowa

Nebraska’s No. 6 Mikey Labriola, seen here after a win against Illinois, took down No. 2 Michael Kemerer of Iowa in a dual Sunday at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
Dylan Guenther / CORN NATION

Just when the Hawkeyes looked to be running away with the dual, Nebraska’s upper weights showed out with upsets and some bonus points before falling just short in the dual’s final match.

The No. 10-ranked Huskers dropped the dual 20-15 to No. 2 Iowa, but it was clear that the Huskers are near prime form going into the postseason.

On senior night, the Huskers saw a massive crowd while wrestling on an elevated mat under the spotlight. The match started with some big Iowa wins, but it was apparent from the beginning that the Huskers were there to fight and weren’t backing down to the Hawkeyes.

Match-By-Match Breakdown

*FloWrestling individual rankings used

125 pounds

Nebraska’s Jeremiah Reno took the mat to start the dual for Nebraska against No. 10 Drake Ayala. The Hawkeye freshman hadn’t wrestled for a few duals due to injury, but he made his return Sunday night against Reno.

Nebraska’s Jeremiah Reno (right)
Dylan Guenther / CORN NATION

In a battle of freshmen, Ayala got the better of Reno as he scored five takedowns to Reno’s one in a 13-6 decision win.

With the loss, Reno is now 4-12 on the year.

Team Score: Iowa 3, Nebraska 0

133 pounds

After seeing freshman Dominick Serrano start the past five duals, Nebraska sent out sophomore Alex Thomsen in this one to face Iowa’s No. 3 Austin DeSanto.

Thomsen, who has struggled this season, was no match for the senior DeSanto, who jumped out to a 12-3 lead in the first period behind four takedowns and four nearfall points.

In the second period, DeSanto used four more takedowns and two more nearfall points to earn the 22-7 win via tech fall.

With the loss, Thomsen falls to 3-7 on the year.

Team Score: Iowa 8, Nebraska 0

141 pounds

With the Huskers down, No. 10 Chad Red Jr. started things early against No. 2 Jaydin Eierman of Iowa. Off the opening whistle, Red got in on a shot and nearly shot Eierman off the raised stage. It was clear from the start that this was going to be a chippy match.

Red struck first in the first period as he secured a takedown as he transitioned from a single to a double leg. After cutting Eierman, Red took his 2-1 lead to the second period.

Red gave up an escape to start the second, tying the score at 2-all. Late in the period, Eierman secured the decisive four-point move as he secured a takedown in a crazy scramble and caught Red on his back for two nearfall points.

Down 6-2 going into the third, Red scored a quick escape to start the period but was unable to get any offense going through Eierman’s head and hands defense, falling to the Hawkeye 6-3.

With the loss, Red falls to 11-4 on the season.

Team Score: Iowa 11, Nebraska 0

149 pounds

For Nebraska, No. 5 Ridge Lovett took care of business against backup Vince Turk who was taking the place of No. 10 Max Murin.

In both of the first two periods, Lovett showed off impressive defense as Turk was active on his offense. Going into the third period, the match was still scoreless, but Lovett got on the board first with an escape. Later in the round, Lovett secured a takedown on a go-behind off of Turk’s shot. Lovett gave up a late escape in the final seconds, securing the 3-1 decision to get the Huskers on the board.

With the win, Lovett will head into the Big Ten Championships with a 17-2 record on the year.

Team Score: Iowa 11, Nebraska 3

157 pounds

In the last match before the intermission, Nebraska’s No. 8 Peyton Robb took on Iowa’s No. 13 Kaleb Young.

Young got out to an early lead on a single-leg takedown, but Robb rolled through for a quick reversal on the edge. Robb put on a hard ride and racked up over a minute of riding time before giving up the escape to Young.

In the second period, Young brought his lead to 4-2 with an escape.

Then in the third, Robb started on bottom and was unable to get away from Young. Young even caught Robb on his back on a roll-out attempt, getting two nearfall points. Young did give up a point for stalling on top, but the Hawkeye dropped Robb via 6-3 decision.

Robb drops to 10-6 on the season with the loss.

Team Score: Iowa 14, Nebraska 3

165 pounds

Next up for Nebraska was freshman Bubba Wilson taking on No. 5 Alex Marinelli.

The senior Hawkeye started the scoring with a quick takedown before giving up the escape. But Wilson did show some really impressive defense as he nearly scored a takedown on an ankle pick while in full splits.

Wilson did tie the match in the second period with an escape, but Marinelli re-took the lead with a late go-behind for a takedown.

In the final period, Marinelli scored an escape and takedown, earning the 8-2 decision win with the riding-time point.

Team Score: Iowa 17, Nebraska 3

174 pounds

With their backs against the wall, the Huskers looked to No. 6 Mikey Labriola to knock off No. 2 Michael Kemerer of Iowa and keep them in the dual.

And the Husker junior did just that, breaking through for a statement win against one of the best in the country.

In the first period, Kemerer scored first when he locked up a cradle for a takedown, but Labriola rolled through for a reversal and nearly scored back points before the end of the period.

Starting on top in the second period, Labriola fell behind 3-2 on a quick Kemerer escape before the rest of the period went by without much action.

In the third, Labriola evened things up with an escape of his own before the exchange of the match as Labriola came out on top in a scramble for a takedown. The officials reviewed the takedown to see if Labriola scored nearfall points but didn’t award any.

Up 5-3, Labriola gave up a late escape but was able to fend off the final onslaught by Kemerer to earn one of the biggest wins of his career.

Labriola is now 16-2 on the year and should get a very favorable seed at Big Tens

Team Score: Iowa 17, Nebraska 6

184 pounds

Riding some momentum and a rocking crowd, Nebraska’s No. 13 Taylor Venz took on Iowa’s No. 16 Abe Assad.

Coming in on a three-match skid, Venz fell behind early against Assad as the Hawkeye scored on a double leg before giving up an escape to Venz.

In the second, Venz rode Assad for over 90 seconds before giving up the escape. Then in the third, Venz scored an escape to cut Assad’s lead to 3-2.

Venz then secured the move of the night as he got in on a single leg before moving up to a body lock and a brutal takedown straight to Assad’s back, eventually securing the win via pinfall.

With the win, Venz is now 13-6 on the year.

Team Score: Iowa 17, Nebraska 12

197 pounds

Then as if that wasn’t enough, next up was a Top-5 matchup between Nebraska’s No. 5 Eric Schultz and No. 2 Jacob Warner of Iowa.

After a scoreless first period, Schultz took the initial lead with an escape in the second, but not until after Warner racked up over a minute of riding time.

Warner then evened things up 1-all with an escape of his own in the third, but with riding time over one minute he essentially held a 2-1 lead.

Then Schultz exploded for a low shot that saw him gather both ankles to earn the takedown on the edge. After riding long enough to cut Warner’s riding time under a minute, Schultz cut him for an escape and was able to fend off the late offense by Warner for the 3-2 win.

With the win, Schultz finishes the conference dual season undefeated and is 14-1 overall on the year.

Team Score: Iowa 17, Nebraska 15

285 pounds

With the dual going to the winner at heavyweight, Nebraska’s No. 10 Christian Lance took on Iowa’s No. 2 Tony Cassioppi.

Lance has never beaten Casioppi, and he wasn’t able to get anything going against him Sunday night.

After a scoreless first period, Lance gave up an escape to start the second. The Husker senior did demonstrate incredible leg defense, as Cassioppi got in on Lance’s leg and got it off the mat only for Lance to kick out and avoid both takedowns.

In the third period, Lance chose bottom but was unable to get out from under Cassioppi. Lance dropped the match 3-0 with the Hawkeyes securing the dual win.

With the loss, Lance falls to 13-6 on the year.

Team Score: Iowa 20, Nebraska 15

What’s Next for Nebraska?

The Huskers will stay home in Lincoln for the Big Ten Championships on March 5-6 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena. The tournament will air on BTN and BTN+.