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Wrestling: Who’s Leaving and Who’s Coming Back

Nebraska is graduating eight seniors, including two All-Americans. Six starters returning, including two All-Americans

2023 NCAA Division I Men’s Wrestling Championship
Senior Mikey Labriola, seen here celebrating after a win in the NCAA semifinals against Virginia Tech’s Mekhi Lewis. has exhausted his eligibility.
Photo by Shane Bevel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Naturally, with every sport at the end of the year there’s a look back at the careers of those departing but also a look ahead to what’s in store.

After an 8th-place finish at NCAAs for Nebraska, we’ll look back at the careers of eight departing Huskers, including two All-Americans.

Liam Cronin (125 pounds) - 2023 All-American

Mikey Labriola (174 pounds) - 4x All-American

Dayne Morton (149 pounds) - 2022-23 starter

Cale Davidson (285 pounds) - 2022-23 starter

Boo Dryden (133 pounds) - part-time 2022-23 starter

Austin Emerson (285 pounds) - part-time 2022-23 starter

Alex Thomsen (133 pounds)

Daniel Monahan (141 pounds)

Nebraska will certainly miss Labriola and Cronin next season, but the future seems to be pretty bright in Lincoln. Let’s take a look back at what these guys accomplished.

Who’s Leaving?

Liam Cronin

80-53 career record

37-14 record at Nebraska

Wrestling at 125 pounds, Liam Cronin started his career at Indiana where he wrestled three seasons in addition to a redshirt year. He then transferred to Nebraska in the summer of 2020 with a 43-39 career record.

As a Husker, Cronin started strong in the shortened 2021 season which didn’t count against eligibility, going 7-1 to start the season before struggling in the postseason. Cronin ended the year 10-5.

Laim Cronin vs. Michael DeAugustino
Liam Cronin
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

In 2021-22, Cronin suffered an early-season hand injury that kept him out for the year. After receiving a medical redshirt, Cronin returned this season for his final year of eligibility. Cronin vastly improved, going an impressive 24-6 this season while earning his first All-American honors as he finished in 5th-place at the NCAA Championships.

Cronin will be a tough guy to replace in the lineup for next year, but the Huskers will have options as they’ve been recruiting the 125-pound spot pretty heavily leading up to Cronin’s departure.

Mikey Labriola

120-28 career record

Mikey Labriola has been one of Nebraska’s most consistent performers for half a decade. Labriola started his career with a 30-win freshman campaign and never looked back as he finished with a 120-28 record, good enough for 9th on the Nebraska all-time wins chart.

Mikey Labriola vs Ankaa Enhmandakh
Mikey Labriola
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

Labriola wrestled in four NCAA tournaments and finished on the podium all four times. As a freshman, Labriola took sixth. Then after the 2020 tournament was cancelled due to Covid, Labriola went 17-2 and finished third at nationals during the shortened 2021 season. Labriola then finished seventh in 2022 before making it to the finals this season. Labriola fell to three-time NCAA champion Carter Starocci in the finals of both the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, his only two losses on the year. Labriola finished his final season with a 30-2 record.

Labriola will be the hardest wrestler to replace from this year’s squad. His consistency in beating almost everyone in front of him will leave a big void in this lineup at 174 for the first time in a long time.

Also Leaving Husker Program

In addition to Labriola and Cronin, Nebraska is losing two more starters from this year’s team in Dayne Morton at 149 and Cale Davidson at 285.

Replacing the redshirting Ridge Lovett, Morton went 5-15 on the year and didn’t qualify for nationals. He was a tough wrestler and held his own against a pretty rough slate, but Nebraska fans will be happy to see Lovett back in the lineup.

Dayne Morton vs Yahya Thomas
Dayne Morton (left)
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

Davidson went 9-15 at heavyweight for Nebraska before an injury kept him out of the postseason. The former Wyoming transfer showed some flashes and always wrestled hard, but the former 197-pounder was often just too small for the role.

Taking Davidson’s place at Big Tens was Austin Emerson. Emerson saw limited action during his Husker career, going 24-15. He went 10-7 this season and 0-3 at the Big Ten tournament.

A part-time starter this year at 133 pounds, Boo Dryden is graduating. The former Minnesota transfer redshirted first at Nebraska then went 6-6 in his only season as a Husker.

Alex Thomsen is a former starter at 125 and 133 for Nebraska. A former Greco-Roman national champion, Thomsen finished his career for Nebraska with a 23-29 record.

Daniel Monahan went 4-6 for the Huskers during his career at 141 pounds.

Who’s Coming Back?

Nebraska is set to return two All-Americans from this year’s team in Peyton Robb (157) and Brock Hardy (141) in addition to three other NCAA qualifiers in Bubba Wilson (165), Lenny Pinto (184) and Silas Allred (197).

2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Wrestling Championship
Peyton Robb
Photo by Scott Rovak/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

In addition to that, Nebraska will also get NCAA finalist Ridge Lovett back at 149 pounds after redshirting this season. A junior, Lovett will immediately compete for an NCAA title.

Ridge Lovett
Dylan Guenther / CORN NATION

Robb is a two-time All-American after finishing fourth in 2022 and sixth this past season. He will also be an NCAA title threat after an impressive 2022-23 season where he went 28-4.

A redshirt freshman, Hardy had a breakout season before injuring his ribs at NCAAs. He did wrestle through the injury, showing his toughness, but he lost those matches on the way to a 6th-place finish, giving him All-American honors. He finished his first season with a 30-8 record. After making it to the finals of the Big Tens and placing at nationals, Hardy will continue to be a title threat as long as he’s on the mat.

Also a redshirt freshman, Allred had one of the best seasons of anyone on the team. Allred went 28-7 while winning a Big Ten Championship at 197 pounds. Allred twice beat NCAA Champion Max Dean of Penn State and fell just one win shy of All-American honors at NCAAs.

Lenny Pinto was easily Nebraska’s most exciting wrestler, routinely throwing guys on their backs. Pinto finished his redshirt freshman season with a 24-11 record. He did qualify for NCAAs but failed to place. He has room for improvement, but his raw talent makes him a high-ceiling type of prospect.

Qualifying for his second NCAA tournament, Wilson finished his second year starting for Nebraska with a 17-15 record. Wilson went 2-2 at NCAAs as a sophomore this season.

Also returning for Nebraska is Kyle Burwick, Nebraska’s starter at 133 pounds. Burwick went 13-10 on the year but went 1-6 in Big Ten duals and 0-3 at the Big Ten tournament. This spot will most likely be a wide-open competition this next season.