Ranked No. 9 in the NWCA Coaches Poll, Nebraska started its season with a resounding 31-12 win over North Dakota State.
Despite the Bison going through a transition after their head coach left and they lost a number of starters to the transfer portal, they’re still a tough team. And they showed that on Saturday in Fargo.
Nebraska showed in this dual that it’s a top team with a number of strong wrestlers, but there are also holes in the lineup that got exploited by NDSU. The Huskers won seven of the ten matches, five of those wins with bonus points as the Husker stars shined.
Disclaimer/PSA: A new rule in college wrestling this year is that a takedown is worth three points rather than the two it was worth previously.
*FloWrestling individual rankings used
Nebraska’s No. 13 Caleb Smith took the mat for the Huskers for the first time after transferring from Appalachian St.
After a scoreless first period against NDSU’s Carlos Negrete Jr., Smith struck first with a second-period reversal before Negrete reversed him back to tie the match at 2-2. Smith then escaped and scored a takedown on a duck-under to go up 6-2. A Negrete escape made it 6-3 going into the third.
Negrete chose bottom in the third and got an escape, cutting the Smith lead to 6-4, but Smith was able to duck under for another takedown. Another Negrete escape was the last of the scoring, giving Smith a 9-5 decision win in his Husker debut.
Team Score: Nebraska 3, NDSU 0
Wrestling his first time at 133 pounds for the Huskers, redshirt freshman Jacob Van Dee didn’t disappoint.
After beating out junior Kyle Burwick in a wrestle off last week, Van Dee took the mat against NDSU’s Fernando Barreto. Van Dee started the match with a takedown after getting in on a single leg. An eventual escape for Barreto made it a 3-1 Van Dee lead after one.
Barreto chose bottom to start the second, but Van Dee put on a tough ride on top and rode out the full period. In the third, Van Dee started with an escape when Barreto elected to start from neutral. No more scoring in the match gave Van Dee a 5-1 decision win with the extra riding time point added on.
Team Score: Nebraska 6, NDSU 0
With starter Brock Hardy fresh off a bronze medal at the U23 World Championships, Nebraska elected to go with backup Blake Cushing, a Grand Island native.
Cushing was able to jump out to a 3-1 lead over Gavin Drexler in the first period. Cushing added an escape to start the second period, but Drexler was able to score a last-second takedown to tie things at 4-4.
In the third, Drexler scored an escape before getting another takedown to go up 8-4. Drexler rode Cushing out for the rest of the period, adding a riding-time point for the 9-4 win.
Team Score: Nebraska 6, NDSU 3
In his return back to the Husker lineup, top-ranked Ridge Lovett showed why he’s a title contender as he took on NDSU’s No. 12 Kellyn March.
Lovett took an early 3-0 lead with a takedown before punishing March on the mat for over two minutes to finish the period. In the second, Lovett added an escape before getting another takedown on the edge before riding the period out again.
In an attempt to avoid going underneath Lovett, March chose neutral in the third. Lovett added another takedown in the third before cutting March loose for an escape and his only point. Lovett finished the match with an 11-1 major decision with the riding-time point — he built up 3:12 on top.
Team Score: Nebraska 10, NDSU 3
Nebraska’s No. 3-ranked Peyton Robb started his season off strong against NDSU’s Landon Johnson. Robb was able to score a pair of takedowns in the first period plus two nearfall points to go up 8-1. In the second, Robb added a two-point reversal and a takedown while giving up an escape.
In the final period, Robb started on bottom when Johnson chose top. After an initial hard ride by the Bison redshirt freshman, Robb scored a reversal to go up 15-2. After trying to collect back points, Robb eventually cut Johnson loose before getting a takedown in the waning seconds for the 18-3 tech fall win.
Team Score: Nebraska 15, NDSU 3
Another newcomer to the starting lineup, redshirt freshman Antrell Taylor took the mat for the Huskers against NDSU’s Brendan Howes.
Taylor started the scoring as he caught a Howes shot and threw him over for a takedown. Shortly after giving up an escape, Taylor caught Howes in the upper body. Taylor worked through a number of positions on his way to putting Howes on his back for the pinfall.
Team Score: Nebraska 21, NDSU 3
New to the starting lineup, junior Elise Brown Ton took on NDSU’s Gaven Sax.
Brown Ton took an early lead with a takedown to go up 3-0, but the Husker didn’t score again in the match, giving up eight unanswered points to Sax, losing an 8-3 decision.
Obviously, it looks like this weight could be a hole in the Husker lineup.
Team Score: Nebraska 21, NDSU 6
To start his sophomore year, Nebraska’s Lenny Pinto was dominant in his match against NDSU’s Aidan Brenot.
Pinto was able to get a takedown in the first period before riding the period out on top. In the second, Pinto ran Brenot over for a takedown before adding two more in the period to go up 13-2.
In the third, Pinto was able to exert his will, collecting two more takedowns for the 19-4 tech fall win.
Team Score: Nebraska 26, NDSU 6
Ranked No. 6 in the country, Silas Allred took on NDSU’s Spencer Mooberry.
Allred collected two takedowns in the first period before adding an escape, two takedowns and four nearfall points in the second, blowing the match open 17-3. After conceding an escape to start the third, Allred quickly hit another takedown for the 20-4 tech fall victory.
Team Score: Nebraska 31, NDSU 6
Nebraska’s redshirt freshman Harley Andrews took the mat here against NDSU’s Devon Dawson.
Andrews fell behind initially on a Dawson takedown but was able to tie things up with a takedown of his own. In the second period, Andrews got a reversal for two points but ended up giving up his lead behind an escape and takedown by Dawson. After a late escape, Andrews was down 8-7 after two periods.
In the third, Andrews gave up an escape before getting taken down and put on his back, losing his debut as a starter via pinfall.