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Wrestling: Lovett Falls to All-Timer Yianni Diakomihalis in Finals

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No. 10-seed Ridge Lovett finishes as national runner-up as the Huskers finish 5th in the team race

2022 NCAA Division I Men’s Wrestling Championship
Nebraska’s Ridge Lovett (left) and Cornell’s Yianni Diakomihalis shake hands after their NCAA final match Saturday night.
Photo by Jay LaPrete/NCAA Photos/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

After putting in some really impressive performances on Day 1 and Day 2 of the 2022 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Detroit, the Huskers finished just short of a team trophy on Saturday in Detroit.

Nebraska finished in fifth place with 59.5 points, its best finish at nationals since taking 4th-place in both 2008 and 2009. Nebraska leaves Detroit with five NCAA All-Americans. That’s the most since five Huskers earned that honor in 2008.

Penn State blew the field away with five individual champions to earn the team title with 131.5 points, its ninth team title in the last 11 NCAA tournaments. Michigan took second place with 96 points, while Iowa finished third with 74. Arizona State took fourth place to earn the final team trophy with 67 points.

This impressive team finish by the Huskers was a few years in the making. After qualifying at all 10 weights in 2020, the NCAA tournament was cancelled due to COVID. Then in the shortened 2021 season, the Huskers underperformed at NCAAs with a 12th-place finish and just two All-Americans (Mikey Labriola and Chad Red Jr.).

After that disappointing finish to 2021, five Husker seniors decided to use their extra year of eligibility to come back for one more go at it. Senior Liam Cronin went down with an injury early in the year at 125 pounds, but he’ll be back next year due to a medical redshirt. Seniors Taylor Venz and Red fell one match short of All-American honors on Friday, while Eric Schultz and Christian Lance both finished seventh to secure their first career All-American honors.

In fact, it was Nebraska’s sophomores that led the charge in Detroit. Lovett blew through the bottom half of the bracket before falling in the finals to top-seeded Yianni Diakomihalis. Along the way, Lovett pinned 2-seed Tariq Wilson of NC State in the quarters to earn the all-important bonus points. Fellow sophomore Peyton Robb wrestled back after a second-round loss to finish fourth while adding two pinfalls for four more bonus points.

Weight-By-Weight Breakdown

141 pounds

Nebraska’s 19-seed Chad Red Jr. finished his tournament with a 3-2 record, but he fell just one win short of his fourth career NCAA All-American honors.

Red finished the year with a 15-8 record and fell just one win short of entering the 100-career win club. His final career record is 99-46.

149 pounds

Nebraska’s 10-seed Ridge Lovett was impressive as he ran through the bottom half of the 149-pound bracket on the way to Saturday night’s NCAA final against top-seeded Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell.

On the way to the finals, Lovett pulled upsets over 7-seed Josh Heil and 2-seed Tariq Wilson. Lovett pinned Wilson in the quarters in one of the biggest upsets of the tournament.

In the NCAA final, a rematch of an overtime loss for Lovett early in the season, Diakomihalis showed that he really is a few levels ahead of the field at 149 pounds.

Diakomihalis recorded two takedowns in the first period to go up 4-1. He then added an escape and two more takedowns in the second to increase his lead to 9-3. In the third, Lovett gave up another takedown while getting two escapes, falling to the Cornell product via 11-5 decision.

Now a three-time NCAA Champion, Diakomihalis won his first two at 141 pounds before moving up this year to 149. Diakomihalis spent two years away from the college mat after 2019 NCAAs. He took an Olympic redshirt in 2019-20 before the Ivy League shut down its winter sports in 2020-21. Now a junior, Diakomihalis holds a 75-match win streak, easily the longest in the country. He’s 93-1 in his college career and has also been very successful at the senior level in freestyle. He was a 2021 World Team member for Team USA and owns multiple wins over former Husker great and two-time World medalist James Green.

2022 NCAA Division I Men’s Wrestling Championship
Nebraska’s Ridge Lovett (right) gets taken down by Cornell’s Yianni Diakomihalis in Saturday’s NCAA Final at 149 pounds.
Photo by Jay LaPrete/NCAA Photos/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

I say all of this not to make excuses for Lovett getting worked in the finals, but to put into perspective just who he toed the line against. Lovett has been impressive for the Huskers the last few years, but he’s still just a sophomore. He finished his season with a 24-4 record as the NCAA runner-up. He’s now 50-15 in his career.

I expect Lovett to get back here to the NCAA finals, but sometimes you just run into an all-timer like Diakomihalis, who has the chance next season to win four NCAA titles and throw his name into the conversation for the greatest college wrestlers of all time.

157 pounds

Nebraska’s 10-seed Peyton Robb started his tournament with a first-round win before falling to 7-seed Josh Humphreys after hurting his knee.

Robb came back on Day 2 and rattled off four straight wins in the consolation bracket to secure All-American honors, highlighted by a pinfall victory over 4-seed Ed Scott of NC State.

On Day 3, Robb took on 3-seed Jacori Teemer of Arizona State in the consolation semifinal round. Teemer, who lost his first match of the season in the semis to Northwestern’s Ryan Deakin, is a two-time Pac 12 champion.

Robb started the match with an early takedown before riding the period out, racking up 2:27 in riding time. After a scoreless second period, Robb scored an escape in the third to go up 3-0 before Teemer made a late surge. Teemer got two third-period takedowns but was forced to concede escapes in an attempt at a comeback. Robb held on in the end for the 6-4 decision win and a berth in the 3rd-place match.

It seems six-time Olympic and World Champion Jordan Burroughs approved.

Against top-seeded and defending NCAA Champion David Carr of Iowa State, Robb didn’t have a lot of answers. Robb scored two escapes, but Carr earned a takedown, a reversal, and two nearfall points on the way to a 7-2 decision win over Robb.

With the loss, Robb finished in fourth place with a 6-2 record, pushing his season tally to 19-10.

165 pounds

Husker freshman Bubba Wilson, the 27-seed this weekend, showed a lot of promise in the country’s toughest tournament.

He went 1-1 on Thursday before losing his only match on Friday to 12-seed Zach Hartman of Bucknell. Wilson finishes the year with a 14-14 record.

174 pounds

Nebraska’s 9-seed Mikey Labriola went 3-2 through the first two days of competition, putting him in Saturday’s 7th-place match against 10-seed Clay Lautt.

After a scoreless first period, Labriola gave up an escape to start the second period. In the third, Labriola tied the match with an escape of his own before securing a late takedown on the way to a 3-2 decision win.

With the win, Labriola finished the tournament with a 4-2 record to take seventh place. He finishes his season with a 23-5 record.

184 pounds

Nebraska’s 10-seed Taylor Venz finished his season on Friday when he fell to 4-seed Parker Keckeisen of Northern Iowa in the Round of 12, one win short of All-American honors.

Venz went 3-2 in the tournament, finishing the year with a 19-9 record. Venz joined Schultz in the 100-win club after Schultz recorded his 100th win in a Husker singlet on Thursday. Venz ends his career with a 101-41 record.

197 pounds

Nebraska’s 3-seed Eric Schultz won both his matches Thursday before falling to 6-seed Jacob Warner of Iowa in the quarters on Friday afternoon. Schultz followed that up with a win over 17-seed Jay Aiello of Virginia to secure All-American honors. Schultz then finished his Friday slate with a loss to Missouri’s 7-seed Rocky Elam, sending the Husker senior to the 7th-place match on Saturday.

In that match, Schultz again took on 14-seed Greg Bulsak of Rutgers. After downing Bulsak in the second round via 4-3 decision, Schultz again won a close 3-2 decision .

Schultz scored a takedown in the second period while giving up two escapes, but the difference proved to be Schultz’s ability to ride, as the riding-time point gave Schultz the win.

With the win, Schultz finished in seventh place with a 4-2 record in the tournament, pushing his season record to 20-4 and his career record to 103-41.

285 pounds

After knocking off 5-seed Wyatt Hendrickson of Air Force on Thursday, Nebraska’s 12-seed Christian Lance earned All-American honors on Friday with a win in the Round of 12.

Lance then fell to Northwestern’s 9-seed Lucas Davison and dropped down to Saturday’s 7th-place match against 3-seed Tony Cassioppi of Iowa.

Lance fell to the Hawkeye 2-0 via decision, ending his tournament with a 3-3 record and a seventh-place finish.

Lance moved to 19-11 on the year, finishing his Husker career with a 56-31 record.