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Wrestling: Four Former Huskers Punch Tickets to Olympic Trials in April

Christian Lance, Tyler Berger, Liam Cronin and Eric Schultz all qualified for Olympic Trials with Top-5 finishes at Senior Nationals

Former Husker Christian Lance, seen here at the 2022 Big Ten Championships, made it to the Senior Nationals final this weekend.
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

Out of six former Huskers competing at Senior Nationals, four of them punched their tickets to compete in the 2024 Olympic Trials in April.

At 57 kg, Liam Cronin enters the freestyle scene after earning All-American honors for the Huskers this past March. He quickly established himself as a real threat at 57 kg.

The 8-seed, Cronin started his tournament with a pin over Ben Kamali before falling to 2-seed Nico Megaludis (who eventually fell to Spencer Lee in the final) via 7-0 decision. Down in the consolation bracket, Cronin rattled off a pair of techs and a pin, including a 11-1 tech over former NCAA finalist Brandon Courtney, before downing 4-seed Daniel DeShazer 5-0 in the 3rd-place match.

With his 3rd-place finish, Cronin is officially into the Olympic Trials Tournament.

At 74 kg, Nebraska had two former wrestlers entered. Former NCAA finalist and last year’s Final X competitor at 70 kg, Tyler Berger came in as the 3-seed, while former All-American Isaiah White was the 11-seed.

Berger started his tournament with an upset loss to Terrell Barraclough in the Round of 16. After that, he won four straight matches on the back side of the bracket — including impressive wins over White (9-5), 8-seed Doug Zapf (8-8 via criteria), and 5-seed super high-schooler Joe Sealey (10-0 tech).

Berger then fell to 6-seed Alex Facundo in the consolation semis before avenging his loss to Barraclough in the 3rd-place match with a 10-0 tech over the Penn State wrestler. With his 5-2 record and 5th-place finish, Berger is officially qualified for the Olympic Trials at 74 kg.

Also at 74, White won his first match via 10-0 tech before falling to the 6-seed Facundo 11-0. White then won his first consolation match 10-0 before falling to Berger 9-5, ending his tournament with a 2-2 record.

Another weight with two former Huskers was 97 kg. With there being only six Olympic weights compared to the normal ten-weight format at the World Championships, both 6-seed Eric Schultz and 7-seed Timothy Dudley have moved up from 92 to 97 kg. Much like how Berger was forced to move up to 74 but he’s really a natural 70 kg guy.

Schultz started his tournament with a 10-0 tech over 11-seed Kallen Kleinschmidt before facing a slimmed-down Tony Cassioppi (3-seed) in the quarters. Schultz fell behind early but used his constant pressure to get the 11-6 win.

In the semis, Schultz fell to 2-seed Nate Jackson in a razor-thin 9-8 decision. Down in the consolation semis, Schultz beat 4-seed Jacob Warner 16-14 in a wild match. Then in the 3rd-place match, Schultz fell to 5-seed Jay Aiello 9-4.

With his 3-2 record and 4th-place finish, Schultz qualified for the Olympic Trials.

Dudley started his tournament with a 6-3 win over 10-seed Morgan Smith before falling to Jackson 12-2 in the quarters. He then dropped his first consolation match to Tyrie Houghton 10-9, ending his tournament short of earning an Olympic Trials bid.

Saving the best for last, former Husker All-American Christian Lance came in as the 3-seed.

He won his first match 5-2 over 6-seed Gary Traub before downing 2-seed Demertius Thomas 8-2 in the semis.

Facing one of his childhood heroes in 1-seed Dom Bradley in the final, Lance was unable to get any offense going against the veteran big man. Bradley downed Lance 2-1.

With the runner-up finish and a previous runner-up finish at the Bill Farrell, Lance has his Olympic Trials ticked punched already and will be a tough out in April.