Four former Huskers competed at the Bill Farrell Memorial Open this weekend with two of them earning qualification into the World Team Trials on May 20-22.
Former Husker offensive lineman and former Concordia wrestler Tanner Farmer went on to win his round-robin weight class in Greco-Roman wrestling at 130 kg (286 pounds), while former NCAA finalist Tyler Berger earned a World Team Trials bid at 70 kg in freestyle by winning his bracket.
Former Huskers Collin Purinton and Isaiah White also competed but did not qualify for a spot at the World Team Trials.
130 kg (Greco-Roman)
The former offensive lineman for Nebraska who played from 2014-18 also dabbled on the mat. While on the football team, Farmer often worked out and practiced with the Husker wrestling team. In fact, he competed as a freshman in 2015 at heavyweight, going 5-1 in open tournaments. As he became a bigger part of the football team’s success, Farmer didn’t compete after that season, mainly because of the weight cut to 285 pounds when Farmer was playing football well north of 300 pounds.
After graduating, Farmer went on to get some looks from some NFL teams like the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans before moving on to the CFL with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
After that brief stint with professional football, Farmer found himself taking graduate classes at Concordia while being a volunteer assistant for the football team. After finding out that he had a semester of eligibility in another sport, Farmer joined the Concordia wrestling team and had to cut 25 pounds to make the 285-pound weight limit, but he went 26-1 and finished as the runner-up at the NAIA National Championships in 2020.
Since, Farmer has competed pretty consistently, highlighted by a win at last year’s Last Chance Olympic Qualifier tournament.
This weekend, Farmer was dominant on the way to the 130 kg Greco title. He started by downing Kaleb Reeves 8-0 in 28 seconds with two big four-point throws.
Then, Farmer took out Tom Foote 8-0 in two minutes time. Next, Farmer beat Courtney Freeman of the Marines 9-1.
Farmer won his final match via forfeit.
With the win, Farmer will represent Team USA at the Pan-Am Championships and has qualified for the World Team Trials in May.
Day 1 Update from the Bill Farrell. Max Nowry and Tanner Farmer both won their brackets and qualified to represent America at the Pan-Am Championships. Kamal Bey lost a “questionable” match and will go for 3rd. @inzanerichards wrestles tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/jUPhgO9ueL— Illiniois RTC (@IlliniRTC) April 1, 2022
70 kg (Freestyle)
One of Nebraska’s best wrestlers in the past decade, Tyler Berger dropped down to 70 kg on Saturday to win the Bill Farrell title.
A three-time All-American and the 2019 NCAA runner-up at 157 pounds, Berger made quick work of his first two matches.
In the quarterfinal round, Berger beat Indiana’s Deondre Wilson 10-0 in 52 seconds. Then in the semis, Berger downed Christian Monserrat 11-0 in 2:21.
In the finals, Berger took on 2020 Pan-Am Gold Medalist Anthony Ashnault. The former Rutgers great won the 2019 NCAA title at 149 pounds and is the all-time Rutgers leader in wins with 123.
Berger struck first in this one, getting in on a single leg before working for the takedown. Then Ashnault evened things up with an exposure as he countered off of Berger’s aggressive attack style.
In the second period, Berger scored two big takedowns. First, he blew through Ashnault and took him from the center to out of bounds. Then, in what looked like a pure Jordan Burroughs blast double-leg, Berger went straight through Ashnault’s face for the takedown.
Ashnault kept things interesting, however, as he scored a takedown and two step-out points to even the match at 6-6, but Berger earned the win via criteria.
Now wrestling out of the California Regional Training Center, Berger will join fellow Husker James Green at the World Team Trials in the 70 kg bracket.
74 kg (Freestyle)
Collin Purinton started for the Huskers in 2019-20 at 149 pounds, going 18-9 while finishing third at the Big Ten Championships before the NCAA tournament was eventually cancelled.
Now wrestling for the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club out of California, Purinton had an impressive showing on Saturday.
Purinton first beat Tony Tolbert 10-0 in 26 seconds before falling to Josh Shields 15-4, Purinton’s teammate at Sunkist Kids. Shields went on to win the tournament. Purinton started the match with a 3-0 lead, but Shields poured it on in the second period with 12 unanswered points.
Purinton went on to beat Garrett Johnson 10-0 in 40 seconds in the consolation semis before beating Dillon Williams 11-0 in 5:36 in the 3rd-place match.
79 kg (Freestyle)
An All-American in 2019 for Nebraska, Isaiah White went 2-2 this weekend but did not place.
He started things off with an 8-3 win over Devan Hendricks before falling to Quentin Perez 5-4 in the quarters.
Then in the consolation bracket, White beat Jeremiah Reed 11-0 before losing to Jared Krattiger 3-1.