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Wrestling: A Look Back at the Careers of Departing Huskers

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Nebraska will have big shoes to fill replacing these four senior starters

Nebraska senior Eric Schultz waves to the crowd after a win in a dual against Illinois in February.
Dylan Guenther / CORN NATION

With the 2021-22 season behind us, it’s easy to immediately look forward. And we’ll be doing that soon enough.

But let’s take a look back at the guys who are leaving the Husker wrestling program:

Chad Red Jr. (141 pounds) - 5x NCAA qualifier, 3x NCAA All-American

Taylor Venz (184 pounds) - 5x NCAA qualifier, 2018 All-American

Eric Schultz (197 pounds) - 5x NCAA qualifier, 2022 All-American

Christian Lance (285 pounds) - 2x NCAA qualifier, 2022 All-American

Tucker Sjomeling (141 pounds) - 2019 starter at 133 pounds

Jevon Parrish (149 pounds) - backup to both Ridge Lovett and Peyton Robb

Colton Wolfe (184 pounds)

Jordan Kelber (133 pounds)

Landon Brown (285 pounds)

Anthony Gaona (197 pounds)

Now let’s take a look back at the careers of the four starters Nebraska is losing in Red, Venz, Schultz and Lance.

Between the four of them, they combined for 359 wins in a Husker singlet, 17 NCAA qualifications, 6 All-American seasons, and five Big Ten finals appearances.

Those will be big shoes to fill.

Eric Schultz

103-41 career record

Eric Schultz was extremely consistent throughout his Husker career, winning at least 20 matches in every season except for the shortened 2021 season when he went 12-3.

Eric Schultz, then a junior getting his hand raised after a win in a dual against Minnesota.
Jon Johnston / Corn Nation

Schultz was extra stingy in dual meets. After winning 10 duals matches in both his freshman and sophomore seasons, Schultz finished his final three seasons in a Husker singlet with a 31-1 dual record. During his senior seasons (due to the NCAAs free year of eligibility), Schultz was 18-0 in duals.

It was in the postseason that Schultz seemed to struggle though, especially at the NCAA Championships. He went 2-2 and didn’t place in his first three trips to nationals, but he broke through for his first All-American honors just this past week, finishing in seventh place with a 4-2 record.

In his five trips to the Big Ten Championships, Schultz finished runner-up three straight times to end his career. He fell to three different opponents in those finals. Ohio State’s Kollin Moore was the top 197-pounder in the country in 2019-20 and took out Schultz in the final. Then Michigan’s Myles Amine bumped up to 197 in 2021 to down Schultz 7-3 in the Big Ten final. Amine went on to win an Olympic bronze medal that summer in Tokyo wrestling for San Marino. Finally, Schultz fell to Cornell transfer Max Dean of Penn State earlier this month in the Big Ten final. Dean went on this past week to win the NCAA title.

With his 103 career wins, Schultz ranks No. 25 in Husker history in career wins, just ahead of two-time All-American Chris Nelson and his teammate Taylor Venz (both with 101 wins each).

Taylor Venz

101-41 career record

For many fans watching, Taylor Venz could sometimes be frustrating during his career at 184 pounds. He showed huge potential in 2019-20 by nearly defeating NCAA Champion Zahid Valencia before giving now two-time champion Aaron Brooks his only loss in his first two seasons, but he also took some head-scratching losses.

Nonetheless, Venz has been a mainstay in the Husker lineup for five years. The five-time NCAA qualifier earned All-American honors as a freshman in 2018 but never found his way back to the national podium.

Nebraska’s Taylor Venz
Dylan Guenther / CORN NATION

Showing early bonus-point potential, Venz led the team in pins as a freshman (7) and sophomore (8). Then as a junior in 2019-20, Venz scored bonus in 14 of his 20 wins on the year with 7 pins.

In 2020-21 as a senior during the NCAA’s free COVID year, Venz made it all the way to the Big Ten final, falling to Brooks of Penn State. Venz then fell to Brooks again in the NCAA quarters.

This season, Venz went 19-9 and came one win away from another visit to the podium at NCAAs.

All in all, Venz had a solid career for the Huskers. His 101 career wins, as mentioned above, tied him for No. 26 on the Huskers’ all-time wins list.

Chad Red Jr.

99-46 career record

Nebraska’s Chad Red Jr. did a really good job holding down the 141-pounds spot for the Huskers for half a decade.

Nebraska competing in a dual against Michigan on Feb. 14, 2020 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
Nebraska’s Chad Red Jr.
Dylan Guenther / CORN NATION

He started out as the hot shot recruit who kind of took the country by storm with his March heroics. But his vast potential never really materialized into the national champion many though he could have been.

But earning All-American status at the NCAA Championships three times is the kind of career many guys dream of.

As a freshman, Red may have earned his career highlight when he earned All-American honors in the Round of 12 at NCAAs with a pin over two-time defending NCAA Champion Dean Heil of Oklahoma State.

As a sophomore, Red made an unlikely run to the Big Ten finals before again capturing All-American status. Then as a junior, Red finished third at Big Tens before the NCAA Championships were cancelled due to COVID. Red was named to the coaches’ first-team All-American list that year.

In his first senior year, Red earned All-American honors again with his highest career finish at nationals (6th place). This season, Red had a few big wins in the regular season, but he under performed in the postseason, failing to place at either Big Tens or NCAAs.

Red’s 99-46 career record and 17 career NCAA tournament wins will be hard to replace.

Christian Lance

56-31 at Nebraska

After transferring to Nebraska from Division II Fort Hays State, Lance took a little time to crack the lineup.

Nebraska’s Christian Lance.
Dylan Guenther / CORN NATION

As a sophomore, Lance went 8-4 in a reserve role before splitting starting duties with then-senior David Jensen as a junior, going 10-7. Then as a senior in 2020-21, Lance was the lone starter and qualified for his first NCAA tournament but didn’t place.

This past season, Lance put together his best season as a Husker. After a 7th-place finish at Big Tens, Lance secured his first career All-American honors by going 3-3 for 8th place at the NCAA tournament, highlighted by a win over undefeated 5-seed Wyatt Hendrickson of Air Force in the second round.

Lance was never spectacular, but in an era of all-time Big Ten heavyweights like Gable Steveson, Mason Parris, Tony Cassioppi and Greg Kerkvliet, Lance was solid and he held down the weight admirably.

Also Leaving Husker Program

As evidenced by the list of “seniors” leaving the program during Senior Night, Nebraska seems set to lose 10 wrestlers.

Tucker Sjomeling leaves with a career record of 24-16. He was a part-time starter with Alex Thomsen at 133 pounds in 2020-21.

Jevon Parrish backed up both Ridge Lovett (149 pounds) and Peyton Robb (157) this past season. He leaves with a 27-16 career record.

Colton Wolfe, a career reserve at 184 pounds behind Venz, leaves with a 20-16 career mark.

Jordan Kelber leaves with a 5-6 career mark, while former JUCO transfer Landon Brown held a 1-1 career record at heavyweight. At 197, Anthony Gaona leaves the program after going 1-5 in his career.