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Wrestling: Huskers Sending a Dozen Wrestlers to U20 and U23 World Team Trials

Nebraska is sending 12 wrestlers to the World Team Trials in the U20 and U23 divisions this weekend in Ohio

2022 NCAA Division I Men’s Wrestling Championship
Nebraska’s Ridge Lovett (left), seen here facing Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell in the 2022 NCAA final, will compete this weekend for a spot on the U23 World Team.
Photo by Jay LaPrete/NCAA Photos/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The Nebraska wrestling team is sending a total of 12 wrestlers to compete in the World Team Trials in both the U20 and U23 divisions at the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio.

In the U20 division, the entire tournament takes place Saturday with the winner of the WTT bracket going on to face the winner of the US Open (who get a bye into the WTT finals) in a best-of-three final on Saturday night.

The U23 division begins on Saturday with the preliminary and consolation rounds before more consolations as well as the quarterfinals, semis and a best-of-three finals will take place on Sunday.

The Huskers are sending a pretty star-studded contingency to Geneva. Find out below.

World Team Entries

U20 Men’s Freestyle

Dominick Serrano

61 kg (134 pounds)

One of the most decorated prep wrestlers on the team, sophomore-to-be Dominick Serrano came in as a big-time recruit out of Colorado. He went undefeated in high school and won Cadet and Junior national championships in freestyle in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Dominick Serrano (left)
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

In 2020, fresh out of high school, Serrano competed at Senior Nationals with the big boys. He did well, finishing with a 2-2 record. Then, in 2021 Serrano finished third at Junior Nationals. His only loss was to super-recruit Jesse Mendez 12-2, who nearly teched Seth Gross at the Senior WTT last month. Gross went on to win the tournament and will wrestle in Final X for a spot on the Senior World Team.

Now, Mendez will again be in this bracket, so it’ll be interesting if Serrano has narrowed the gap.

This past season, Serrano came in and started most of the second half of the season and wrestled at the Big Ten Championships. He finished with a 13-13 record on the year as a freshman.

The 61 kg bracket is loaded. It’ll be tough for Serrano to win here, but he’s capable. If he does make it through the bracket that includes Mendez, he’ll have to face the No. 4-ranked recruit in the country Nic Bouzakis in the best-of-three final.

Elise Brown Ton

79 kg (174 pounds)

Elise Brown Ton redshirted this year for the Huskers at 174 pounds, going 10-6 in the process with five wins via pinfall.

After competing without placing in 2021 in Junior Nationals, U23 World Team Trials, and Senior Nationals, Brown Ton turned a corner this year at the Junior US Open where he went 5-2 to finish in fourth place.

Brown Ton figures to be next season’s backup to three-time All-American Mikey Labriola at 174.

Nathan Haas

86 kg (190 pounds)

After redshirting and going 8-0 this past season, Nathan Haas seems poised to take over at 184 pounds for Nebraska as a freshman.

A former cadet national champion, Haas had a good U20 US Open showing. He qualified for these World Team Trials by finishing sixth with a 6-3 record.

Haas is a very talented wrestler out of California and has been impressive as a Husker. This weekend will go a long way in finding out if he’s jumped levels and is ready for a full season at 184 pounds.

Silas Allred

92 kg (203 pounds)

This past season, Silas Allred redshirted behind senior Eric Schultz at 197 pounds. Allred was impressive with a 7-0 record and will likely take over for the departed Schultz.

Without a lot of freestyle experience, Allred came out of nowhere and finished as runner-up at the 2022 U20 US Open. He ran through the bracket on the way to the final where he fell to Maryland’s Jaxon Smith. If Allred can run the gauntlet again on Saturday, he’ll have another shot at Smith in a best-of-three with a World Team spot on the line.

With Allred looking like the real deal, let’s see how he stacks up.

Zak Taylor

97 kg (214 pounds)

A former heavyweight, Zak Taylor has moved down to 197 for the Huskers and will be competing well north of that on Saturday.

Taylor redshirted this past season, finishing the year with a 4-5 record. After finishing eighth at the 2022 Junior US Open with a 1-3 record, Taylor qualified for this weekend’s trials.

U23 Men’s Freestyle

Alex Thomsen

61 kg (134 pounds)

Alex Thomsen will be competing in freestyle, but most of his success has been in Greco-Roman. Thomsen has won Junior and Senior national titles in Greco.

But he’s competing this weekend in freestyle just as he did last year at the U23 World Team Trials. He went 5-2 to finish in seventh place in 2021.

As a Husker, Thomsen has a career 19-25 record after starting at 125 pounds as a freshman and being a part-time starter at 133 the past two seasons.

Thomsen has some real freestyle abilities, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make a little run.

Ridge Lovett

65 kg (143 pounds)

Nebraska’s MVP this past season, Ridge Lovett went 24-4 on the year while finishing runner-up to Yianni Diakomihalis. Diakomihalis is the odds-on favorite to represent Team USA as he’s set to compete at Final X at 65 kg.

Lovett, on the other hand, could be considered the favorite in this weekend’s 65 kg field. The former Greco-Roman specialist, Lovett has transitioned into more of a freestyle oriented game. In 2020, Lovett won a Junior National Championship in freestyle at 61 kg. Lovett bested Pitt’s Cole Matthews 5-4 in the final in that tournament.

Then in 2021, Lovett competed at the U23 World Team Trials, finishing in sixth place up at 70 kg with a 7-3 record.

Lovett and Matthews are the favorites to make it to the best-of-three finals. And judging by their last match (see below), that would be a fun series.

Nic Stoltenberg

70 kg (154 pounds)

Freshman Nic Stoltenberg redshirted this past season and went 13-6 on the year wrestling at 157 pounds.

A former Omaha Skutt standout, Stoltenberg doesn’t have a lot of freestyle experience. Last year at Junior Nationals, Stoltenberg went 1-2.

Peyton Robb

74 kg (163 pounds)

With a 50-23 career record so far, junior-to-be Peyton Robb finished this past season as an All-American with a fourth-place finish at NCAAs.

This was after Robb won the 2021 U23 World Team Trials and went on to represent Team USA at the U23 World Championships where he went 1-1. Robb beat fellow All-American Quincy Monday twice in a row (see Match 2 below) in the best-of-three WTT final before getting a 10-0 win over Saudi Arabia’s Hassan Shaya Alharthi at Worlds.

Robb has a hard road at 74 kg, but he can definitely make his second U23 world team.

Bubba Wilson

74 kg (163 pounds)

Nebraska’s starter at 165 pounds this past year as a redshirt freshman, Bubba Wilson finished with a 14-15 record while qualifying for the NCAA Championships.

With minimal freestyle experience, Wilson entered the U23 WTT in 2021 but was injured in his first match and was forced to default out of the tournament.

This will be Wilson’s first freestyle action in awhile, and after a season as Nebraska’s starter, the seasoning may serve him well this weekend.

Adam Thebeau

74 kg (163 pounds)

Adam Thebeau redshirted this year but did not take the mat for the Huskers.

He finished eighth at Junior Nationals in 2021 and has some freestyle experience.

Out of the 12 Huskers wrestling this weekend, Thebeau is the only one that isn’t listed as wrestling for the Nebraska Wrestling Training Center. He’s listed as wrestling for BullTrained Wrestling out of Columbia, Mo.

Brandyn Van Tassell

86 kg (190 pounds)

Sophomore-to-be Brandyn Van Tassell went 6-5 at 184 pounds this past season for the Huskers.

Van Tassell has some freestyle experience as he placed at Junior Nationals in both 2017 and 2018. Now, he’ll try his hand at U23.