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Wrestling: Huskers in the Hunt at NCAAs

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Nebraska went a combined 12-4 on Day 1 and sits in a tie for 6th place in the team race

Nebraska’s 12-seed Christian Lance, seen here after a win at the Big Ten Championships, advanced to the quarterfinal round at 285 pounds Thursday night with an upset win over 5-seed Wyatt Hendrickson of Air Force in the second round of the NCAA Championships in Detroit.
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

After an impressive first day highlighted by some Husker upset wins, Nebraska sits in a tie for sixth in the team race at the 2022 NCAA Championships in Detroit with 14.5 points.

Penn State is in first place with 27.5 points, while Arizona State is second with 22. NC State has 21.5 points and sits in third place, while Michigan has 21 at fourth, and Iowa has 20.5 and sits in fifth. Virginia Tech sits in sixth place with Nebraska with 14.5 points.

Michigan leads the tournament with seven wrestlers advancing to Friday morning’s quarterfinal round. Penn State and Iowa have six in the quarters, Arizona State has five, and Nebraska is in a six-team tie with four quarter-finalists.

The Huskers will be back in action Friday morning at 10 a.m. with the quarterfinal round followed by two round of consolation, televised on ESPNU. On Friday night at 7 p.m., the semifinal round will air on ESPN with two round of consolation to follow

Weight-By-Weight Breakdown

141 pounds

Nebraska’s 19-seed Chad Red Jr. had a tough opponent in the round of 32 in 14-seed Dresden Simon of Central Michigan.

Red hit an early takedown and rode out the rest of the first period before going up 3-0 with a quick escape to start the second period. Simon then caught Red in a headlock and whipped him over to his back for a takedown and two nearfall points. Red then immediately slipped out for a reversal, giving him the lead back at 5-4 right before Simon tied it back up at 5-all with an escape. In the third, Red rode out the entire period to earn a narrow 6-5 decision win with the riding-time point.

Then in the round of 16, Red faced off against 3-seed Sebastian Rivera of Rutgers. Rivera came into the match with a 25-0 record on the year and scored the first points with a first-period takedown before riding out the period.

In the second period, Red put on a hard ride in the top position before eventually giving up the escape. Red then cut the Rivera lead to 2-1 with a quick third-period escape. Soon after, Red got in for a single-leg takedown on Rivera, tying the match at 3-all.

Red put on a hard ride before Rivera scored a reversal to go up 5-3, but Red countered with a reversal of his own to tie it at 5-all. Red was called for stalling in the top position late in the period, giving Rivera the 6-5 lead, but the riding-time point for Red tied the match at 6-all, sending it into sudden victory.

In overtime, Red was called for stalling again as he backed out of bounds. In all honesty, that kind of ticky-tac stall call in that situation in overtime at NCAAs to decide the match was just awful. Red went on to drop the match 7-6.

Red will face 13-seed Ian Parker of Iowa State in Friday morning’s second round of consolation.

149 pounds

Nebraska’s 10-seed Ridge Lovett wasn’t overly impressive on Thursday, but he did enough to advance to Friday’s quarterfinal round.

Against 23-seed Jaden Abas of Stanford in the round of 32, Lovett gave up the initial takedown before scoring a pair of escapes and a third-period takedown to earn the 4-2 decision victory.

In the round of 16, Lovett took on 7-seed Josh Heil of Campbell. After a scoreless first period, Lovett chose bottom to start the second. He worked his way for a reversal into a headlock that gave him two more nearfall points. Heil scored an escape before the end of the period to cut the Lovett lead to 4-1.

In the third period, Heil decided to go underneath Lovett. That’s generally not a good idea, as Lovett proved once again by riding Heil out for the full two minutes to earn the 5-1 decision victory.

Lovett will take the mat Friday morning in the quarterfinal round against undefeated 2-seed Tariq Wilson of NC State.

157 pounds

In the round of 16, Nebraska’s 10-seed Peyton Robb didn’t waste much time, as he scored a quick takedown against 23-seed Markus Hartman of Army. Robb turned his takedown into a cradle before putting Hartman on his back for a first-period win by pinfall.

Then in the round of 16, Robb faced off against 7-seed Josh Humphreys of Lehigh. Both wrestlers traded takedowns before Robb injured his right knee with a 5-3 lead. Robb then gave up an escape after taking injury time.

With a 5-4 lead going into the second, Robb was noticably limited. Humphreys then rode out the Husker for the entire second period, putting his riding time well over a minute.

In the third, Humphreys tied things up with an escape before scoring another takedown and a ride-out for the 8-5 win over Robb who was limping heavily after the match.

If Robb can still wrestle, he’ll face 24-seed Doug Zapf of Penn in the consolation round Friday morning.

165 pounds

In his first NCAA tournament, Nebraska’s 27-seed Bubba Wilson took the fight to 6-seed Cam Amine of Michigan. Wilson beat Amine in the regular season, so it was obvious his confidence was high.

After a scoreless first period highlighted by some solid defense by Wilson, Amine got on the board first with an escape. In the third, Wilson tied things up at 1-all with an escape of his own. Amine was able to score the deciding takedown with under 20 seconds left in the match to get the 3-1 decision win over Wilson.

In the first round of consolation, Wilson faced 22-seed Rodrick Mosley of Gardner-Webb. After a scoreless first period, Wilson gave up a quick second-period escape before getting a late takedown to go up 2-1. Wilson then scored an escape in the third before fending off Mosley’s late shots to get the 3-1 decision win.

Wilson moves on to face 12-seed Zach Hartman of Bucknell in Friday’s consolation action.

174 pounds

Nebraska’s 9-seed Mikey Labriola did what he had to do to advance to Friday’s quarterfinal round.

In the round of 32, Labriola scored two third-period takedowns in a 5-2 win over 24-seed Joel Devine of Iowa State.

Then Labriola got a chance to redeem himself for a regular season loss in the round of 16. Against 25-seed Gerrit Nijenhuis of Purdue, who beat Labriola in their dual matchup, the Husker never trailed.

After a scoreless first period, Labriola scored an escape and a takedown to go up 3-0 before giving up two escapes, advancing with the 3-2 decision win.

Labriola moves on to face undefeated 1-seed Carter Starocci of Penn State in Friday morning’s quarterfinal round.

184 pounds

Nebraska’s 10-seed Taylor Venz started his final NCAA tournament with a round of 32 matchup against 23-seed Travis Stefanik of Princeton.

Venz scored a takedown in both the first and second periods before adding a reversal and another takedown in the third to get the 9-2 decision win.

Then in the round of 16, Venz fell to a familiar foe in 7-seed Kaleb Romero of Ohio State. Venz led the match 1-0 late in the second period before Romero got a late takedown.

Romero added an escape and a takedown in the third to down Venz 5-1 via decision.

Venz will take on 24-seed Caleb Hopkins of Campbell in Friday’s consolation bracket.

197 pounds

Nebraska’s highest seeded wrestler, 3-seed Eric Schultz faced off against 30-seed Cale Urbas of Penn in the round of 32.

Urbas actually struck first with a first-period takedown, but Schultz cut the deficit with an escape. Schultz then tied the match at 2-all with a second-period escape before going up 4-2 with a late takedown.

In the third, Schultz turned into a takedown machine as he racked up five takedowns on the way to a 15-6 major decision win, his 100th in a Husker singlet.

In the round of 16, Schultz took on 14-seed Greg Bulsak of Rutgers. After a scoreless first period, Schultz scored a takedown while Bulsak earned two escapes in the second, going into the third tied at 2-all. Schultz then got a third-period takedown before giving up an escape and holding on for the 4-3 decision win.

Schultz moves on to face 6-seed Jacob Warner of Iowa in Friday morning’s quarterfinal round.

285 pounds

Saving the best for last, Nebraska’s 12-seed Christian Lance had himself a day.

Lance used a second-period takedown to propel him to a 3-2 decision win in the round of 32 against 21-seed Tyrie Houghton of NC State.

But it was in the round of 16 that Lance pulled off one of the upsets of the day.

Facing 5-seed Wyatt Hendrickson, who came into the match undefeated at 25-0 with 17 wins by pinfall, Lance showed that all of those matches against the Big Ten heavies really paid off. The Husker was able to stifle the offense of Hendrickson, something nobody has done to him all season.

After a scoreless first period, Lance took a 1-0 lead with a second-period escape before Hendrickson tied things at 1-all with an escape of his own to start the third. In the third, Lance was called for stalling just before shooting in for a takedown, giving the Husker big man a 3-2 lead.

Lance then cut Handrickson for an escape, tying the match at 3-all. Lance then got in on a single leg for another takedown before conceding the escape. Lance held on to earn the 5-4 decision victory.

Lance moves on to face 4-seed Greg Kerkvliet of Penn State in Friday’s quarterfinal round.