Many of you reading this may not know, but I also cover the Husker wrestling team as FloWrestling’s Husker Insider.
Just over a week ago, I was able to sit down and talk to Nebraska Head Coach Mark Manning and athletic trainer Tyler Weeda, who has been in charge of Peyton Robb’s rehab since recovering from multiple surgeries and skin grafts resulting from his bout with a rare skin infection that he contracted at the NCAA Championships. I was also able to talk to Robb himself as well and ask about his recovery and all things wrestling.
The piece recently came out at FloWrestling and you can read it here (subscription required, which I highly encourage if you’re at all a fan of wrestling).
Throughout these conversations, I was able to get more information than I could ever fit into one feature, so I’ll leave you all with some of the unused quotes from these interviews.
I’ve had the chance to interview Weeda a couple times now and he doesn’t disappoint. He knows his stuff in every way as both an athletic trainer and former college wrestler, and he’s been instrumental in Nebraska’s success on the mat — ask anyone associated with the program. Here’s what he said about Nebraska’s culture and how they’ve been able to avoid seeing any starters leave via the transfer portal.
“It says something about our culture and our family atmosphere I think — it’s really important. That’s why we don’t have guys transfer – none of our studs, our scholarship guys, are transferring,” Weeda said. “The only transfers we’ve had are guys that are behind one of those guys and we’re actually helping them out for other opportunities. You don’t see any of our high profile guys even try to seek to go anywhere else because of the culture and family atmosphere that we have – I think that’s one of the main pillars of our program that maybe gets overlooked.”
When speaking about Robb’s ordeal and the outpouring of support from the wrestling world, Weeda said he was proud of the person Robb is and how he commands such respect.
“Especially when his parents were staying with me, I remember one night specifically where we went through a lot of the messages, and I’d say 50% of them were not Nebraska fans. So just seeing how the wrestling community comes around and supports each other is really, really cool to see,” Weeda said. “It’s obviously at that point in time not about competition – it’s human beings coming together to support other human beings in times of trials and tribulations for him and for his family.
“It’s a testament to who he is as a person and the amount of respect that he has earned over his four competitive years. I mean, everyone respects the crap out of him from the competitor that he is and the person that he is and has become.”
On the topic of Robb’s leadership in the room, here’s some of what Weeda had to say
“If guys need a reminder about being more disciplined in this area or that area or if guys are slacking off, all it takes is Peyton Robb to speak up and everyone is going to listen because everyone knows how close he was to not just not being able to wrestle again, but having his life completely changed forever,” he said. “Just hearing his voice just automatically makes you check into what’s being talked about and you’re going to listen because you know this dude has been through something you’re not going to go through most likely.”
The Robb family stayed with Weeda while Peyton was in the hospital, a move that mirrors the culture the Huskers have built in their wrestling room.
“When we talk about family in our program, this incident really exemplifies that. It’s not just about wins and losses, it’s about making sure that our guys are taken care of – it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are,” Weeda said. “I would do that for any one of our guys. The last thing I want is his parents coming in and dealing with that situation and they’re going back to a hotel room every night. Trying to help them maintain the rollercoaster ride is really important. I think the bond that was created between his family and mine is going to last forever. All that stems from the main family that we have here.”
New season, same P Robb— Nebraska Wrestling (@HuskerWrestling) November 11, 2023
Peyton picks up the Huskers' third straight tech fall.
At the time, Robb recalled a whirlwind of emotions but did his best to stay even keel and focus on any positives he could find.
“At that time, I was kind of just trying to look for any positives. You’re working through rehab, so you just kind of have to keep yourself positive,” Robb said. “Once I was out of the hospital and everything, I knew I was probably going to be fine to wrestle at some point sooner or later. You have to stay patient in those moments because you don’t want to get ahead of yourself then have something happen medically.
“Thankfully I didn’t end up having any problems. It was a pretty smooth transition into getting back on the mat and wrestling.”
With this being his final season as a Husker, Robb likes what he sees from this team as he chases the elusive team trophy.
“I think we have a really good shot to push for a team trophy this year. Hopefully we can get that done, especially because this is my last year and I’d like to be on a team that gets a trophy,” he said. “We have a good solid core with the addition of some young guys also. If us older guys in that core can instill some wisdom on those young guys on how to fight through some matches then we’ll have a good shot at getting a trophy. I’m excited to see how it all plays out.”
Speaking of young guys, Antrell Taylor has been turning heads as of late. He’s 6-0 and ranked No. 17, the highest ranking of any freshman in the country at 165 pounds. In Robb’s opinion, people better take notice of the young Millard South product quick, fast and in a hurry.
“Antrell is really good – he’s tough to score on. He’s really an athlete and he’s getting tougher and tougher to score on by the week. He’s really growing in his mindset. I love that he always grabs the best guy in the room and wrestles with him every day. You can tell that he just wants to get better and he’s looking to grow and get pushed. I see a lot of good things coming from Antrell.”
If you talk to Manning often, you notice that he talks a lot about being purposeful and courageous. When talking about Robb, it’s obvious he holds the senior in rarefied air.
“I think he’s pretty much the same guy (as before the infection). I just see a different purpose in him. He’s more purposeful in his practices and his demeanor. He just looks like he’s a lot more grateful,” Manning said. “He understands – you’re a young guy and you think you’re going to wrestle for ten years and then it could be threatened. He’s just grateful for where he’s at and he’s grateful for his opportunity.”
This team has the ability to be special, but it will only go as far as Robb takes it.
“I’m grateful for his presence on our team and the leadership he provides. Really, for our team to max out, obviously we need Peyton to do that. I think his leadership and his courage is going to go a long way in motivating and inspiring other people to bring that out in themselves,” Manning said. “Just being a great teammate, and I’m not just worrying about what he’s winning – I know he’s going to win a lot. It’s about his team and I think that’s where I see him having a big desire for that.”