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Wrestling: Huskers Underwhelm at Big Tens

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Nebraska finished in seventh place as a team after a lackluster final day at the Big Ten Championships

Nebraska Associate Head Coach Bryan Snyder (right) and assistant coach Tervel Dlagnev look on during a match Saturday at the 2022 Big Ten Championships at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

After a disappointing Day 1 at the 2022 Big Ten Championships, the Huskers limped across the finish line to finish in seventh place as a team with 75.5 points Sunday at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.

Nebraska had a runner-up finish from senior Eric Schultz at 197 pounds, dropping his third-straight Big Ten final match. Sophomore Ridge Lovett finished fourth at 149 pounds, while Peyton Robb (157), Mikey Labriola (174) and Taylor Venz (184) all finished in fifth place. Freshman Bubba Wilson came in sixth at 165 pounds, while Christian Lance finished seventh at heavyweight to round out the Husker placers.

In the team race, Michigan made an unlikely run to the title with 143 points and two individual champs (Nick Suriano at 125, Myles Amine at 184), while Penn State came up just short with 141.5 points and four individual champs (Roman Bravo-Young at 133, Nick Lee at 141, Carter Starocci at 174, and Max Dean at 197). Considered a major title contender, Iowa underwhelmed on the final day as the Hawkeyes finished in third place with 129.5 points and just one individual conference champ in Alex Marinelli at 165 pounds. Ohio State took fourth with 91.5 points, while Northwestern finished fifth with 90.5 points. Minnesota placed sixth with 78.5 points.

As for individual NCAA qualifiers, the Huskers qualified seven guys this weekend while Chad Red Jr. will likely receive an at-large bid despite not placing this weekend.

Also of note for the Huskers, assistant coach Tervel Dlagnev finally received his bronze medal for the 2012 Olympic Games. After originally finishing fifth in 2012, Dlagnev was elevated to the bronze medal due to a pair of wrestlers getting stripped of their medals for testing positive for banned substances.

Weight-By-Weight Breakdown

125 pounds

Freshman Jeremiah Reno finished a tough season with a tough tournament showing.

Nebraska’s Jeremiah Reno defends a shot by Ohio State’s Malik Heinselman in the first round of the Big Ten Championships.
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

Reno, the 13-seed, went 0-3 and did not place at the Big Ten Championships and will finish his season with a 4-15 record.

133 pounds

After going 1-2 on the first day of action, Nebraska’s Dominick Serrano struggled in the 9th-place bracket on Sunday.

Serrano, the 10-seed, fell to 8-seed Joe Olivieri of Rutgers in the semifinal round. In the third-place match (essentially the 11th-place match), Serrano took an initial 3-1 lead, but Wisconsin’s 11-seed Kyle Burwick went up 5-3 with a takedown and two nearfall points before Serrano evened things up 5-5 with a reversal. Burwick notched an escape with 11 seconds left to go up 6-5 and held off Serrano for the win.

Nebraska’s Dominick Serrano (left) ties up with Northwestern’s Chris Cannon in the first round of the Big Ten Championships.
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

After finishing the weekend with a 1-4 record, Serrano is now 13-13 on the year. It’s possible he’ll get an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships, but it’s not likely.

141 pounds

Nebraska’s 4-seed Chad Red Jr. was eliminated on Saturday with a 1-2 record and did not place.

Nebraska’s Chad Red Jr. returns Indiana’s Cayden Rooks to the mat in the first round of the Big Ten Championships.
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

Red is 12-6 on the year and will need an at-large bid to get back to the NCAA Championships. He’ll likely receive one.

149 pounds

After going 2-1 on Day 1, Nebraska’s 3-seed Ridge Lovett made it to the consolation final before medical forfeiting out of the 3rd-place match.

Nebraska’s gets his hand raised after beating Purdue’s Alec White in the first round of the Big Ten Championships.
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

Lovett started the day with a match in the consolation semis against 10-seed Michael Blockhus of Minnesota. Blockhus started the scoring as he scored a quick takedown before Lovett quickly reversed him to tie things at 2-all. Lovett rode Blockhus for nearly a minute before giving up a late escape.

Blockhus chose bottom against Lovett to start the second period, something that is generally a bad idea. Lovett proved again he’s a hammer on top as he rode out the Gopher for the full period while scoring four nearfall points along the way, taking a 6-3 lead into the third.

In the final period, Lovett scored a takedown while giving up a pair of escapes. With riding time, Lovett earned the 9-5 decision victory.

With the medical forfeiture, Lovett finished with a 3-1 record on the weekend and will take his 20-3 record into the NCAA tournament.

157 pounds

After going 2-1 and falling to 1-seed Ryan Deakin of Northwestern in the semifinal round on Day 1, Nebraska’s 5-seed Peyton Robb battled back for fifth place on Sunday.

Nebraska’s Peyton Robb lifts Illinois’ Joe Roberts in the first round of the Big Ten Championships.
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

To start Day 2, Robb faced 2-seed Kaleb Young of Iowa in the consolation semis. After a scoreless first period, Robb took a 1-0 lead with an escape in the second, but not before Young amassed 1:08 riding time. In the third, Young scored a quick escape to tie the match at 1-all while also keeping his riding time over a minute at 1:02, essentially giving the Hawkeye a 2-1 lead.

Knowing this, Robb was looking for his offense. He tried a duck-under but Young caught Robb on his back for a takedown and four nearfall points as time expired, nearly securing the pin. Robb ended up losing the match 8-1 after the riding time point for Young.

In the 5th-place match, Robb faced 4-seed Kendall Coleman in a rematch of their quarterfinal showdown that Robb won 6-4 in overtime. Robb left no doubts in this one as he scored a takedown on a go-behind on the edge of the mat. He then scored four nearfall points on a roll-through tilt before riding out the rest of the period.

In the second period, Robb increased his lead to 7-0 with an escape before holding Coleman off the remainder of the match to get the 8-0 major decision after factoring in the riding-time point.

With his fifth-place finish, Robb is now 13-8 on the year going into NCAAs.

165 pounds

After going 3-1 on Day 1, Nebraska’s 8-seed Bubba Wilson lost his only match on Sunday.

Wilson found himself facing 3-seed Dean Hamiti of Wisconsin in the consolation semis on Sunday morning. In the regular season, the freshman sensation Hamiti pinned Wilson in the first period.

Nebraska’s Bubba Wilson gets his hand raised after beating Minnesota’s Cael Carlson in the first round of the Big Ten Championships.
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

On Sunday, Wilson put up more resistance but still fell in the end. Wilson did get the first takedown of the match in the first period to go up 2-0, but Hamiti scored three takedowns and a reversal to earn the 10-4 win.

In the 5th-place match, Wilson medical forfeited out against 11-seed David Ferrante of Northwestern.

Wilson finished the weekend with a 3-2 record to finish in sixth place. He’s now 13-12 on the year going into his first NCAA tournament.

174 pounds

After a solid day on Saturday that saw him narrowly lose to 2-seed Logan Massa of Michigan in the semifinal round, Nebraska’s 3-seed Mikey Labriola dropped his only match on Sunday in the consolation bracket.

Nebraska’s Mikey Labriola gets his hand raised after downing Michigan State’s Nate Jimenez in the first round of the Big Ten Championships.
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

On Sunday, Labriola fell to 5-seed Ethan Smith of Ohio State in the consolation semis. The two wrestled to a 2-2 tie at the end of regulation, but the Buckeye came through in sudden victory with a takedown, dropping Labriola to the 5th-place match.

In the 5th-place match, Labriola was slated to face Iowa’s 4-seed Michael Kemerer. However, Kemerer medical forfeited out of Saturday’s semifinal against 1-seed Carter Starocci of Penn State, finishing in 6th place.

Labriola went 2-2 this weekend to finish in fifth place. He’s now 18-4 on the year going into NCAAs.

184 pounds

After going 2-1 on Day 1 with a loss to NCAA Champion Aaron Brooks of Penn State, Nebraska’s 4-seed Taylor Venz split a pair of matches on Sunday.

Nebraska’s Taylor Venz wrestles Purdue’s Max Lyon in the first round of the Big Ten Championships.
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

Venz faced off against 12-seed Zac Braunagel of Illinois in the consolation semis on Sunday.

After a scoreless first period, there was a lot of action in the second. Venz scored first with a quick escape from the bottom position before Braunagel scored a takedown. Another escape by Venz tied things up at 2-all before Venz got a bear hug on Braunagel and slammed him down on the edge of the mat to go up 4-2. Braunagel scored a late escape to cut the lead to 4-3.

In the third period, Venz eventually gave up the escape to Braunagel to tie the match. In the final minute, Braunagel again took Venz down before Venz scored a late escape. Braunagel held on for the 6-5 win over Venz.

In the 5th-place match, Venz took on 8-seed Kyle Cochran of Maryland. Venz used an impressive upper-body throw from his knees to take down Cochran in the first period. Venz rode Cochran for over a minute before giving up a late escape.

Venz gave up an escape in the second period before getting an escape of his own to start the third. The Husker then got another takedown after stuffing a Chochran shot to go up 5-2. Venz gave up an escape but held off Cochran for the 6-3 win with the riding-time point.

Finishing in fifth place with a 3-2 mark on the weekend, Venz will take his 16-8 record to the NCAA tournament.

197 pounds

After taking care of business on Saturday as the 1-seed, Nebraska’s Eric Schultz faced off against Penn State’s 2-seed Max Dean in Sunday’s final.

Nebraska’s Eric Schultz
Dylan Guenther / CORN NATION

It was a tough matchup for Schultz, as Dean routinely stuffed the Husker’s offense.

In the first period, Dean got a takedown before a late escape by Schultz cut the lead to 2-1. In the second, Schultz was able to tie things up at 2-all with an escape, but not before Dean put his riding time over two minutes.

In the third, Dean started on bottom and earned an escape when Schultz cut him loose. Schultz was unable to get in on a shot against Dean in the final period with the Nittany Lion showing off his heavy hips. Schultz went on to drop his third-straight Big Ten final match 4-2 via decision.

With his 2-1 record on the weekend and runner-up finish, Schultz will go to NCAAs with a 16-2 record on the year.

285 pounds

After going 2-2 on Day 1 of Big Tens, Nebraska’s 6-seed Christian Lance faced off against Ohio State’s 8-seed Tate Orndorff in the 7th-place match.

Nebraska’s Christian Lance blasts through Purdue’s Michael Woulfe for a takedown in the first round of the Big Ten Championships.
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

After a scoreless first period, Lance took a 1-0 lead with a second-period escape. In the third, Orndorff tied things with an escape of his own. Then Lance pulled off one of his patented low single-leg shots for a takedown to go up 3-1. Lance conceded the escape and fended off Orndorff’s late flurry to secure the 3-2 win.

Lance finished the weekend with a 3-2 record to finish in seventh place. He’s now 16-8 on the year heading into NCAAs.

What’s Next for Nebraska?

The 11th-ranked Huskers will travel to Detroit to compete in the NCAA Championships March 17-19.