After a big-time Day 1 at Big Tens (read about it here), Nebraska was kind of brought back down to a Earth a bit in Sunday’s final round.
Out of five finalists — Nebraska’s guys no doubt fought hard in every single one of their matches — Allred was the Husker that was able to get it done. After going 5-for-5 in the semis, Nebraska went 1-for-5 in the finals, falling to a few all-timers along the way. Nebraska’s five finals opponents own a combined six NCAA titles.
Overall, Nebraska had a really good tournament and will be a force at the upcoming NCAA Championships with its Big Ten champion and four more finalists. In all, seven of Nebraska’s wrestlers qualified for nationals over the weekend.
In the team race, the Huskers finished in third place with 104.5 points. Penn State won the team title with 147 points and four individual champs, while Iowa had two champions and finished second with 134.5 points. Ohio State finished behind Nebraska for fourth place with 99 points, while last year’s champion Michigan took fifth with 84.5.
*FloWrestling rankings used
After downing both 7-seed Braxton Brown and 6-seed Michael DeAugustino on Saturday to advance to today’s final, 2-seed Liam Cronin took the mat against 1-seed Spencer Lee of Iowa.
Lee started the scoring with a single-leg shot for a takedown in the first period. Cronin did a good job of getting to his feet and earning the escape. Lee then shot in again and got a second takedown, riding out the rest of the period.
Lee then built his lead to 5-1 with a quick escape to start the second period.
In the third, Cronin chose neutral as to avoid Lee’s best position. Cronin was able to get in on Lee, but the Hawkeye was able to fend off Cronin’s best efforts, despite giving up a stall call along the way. Lee then shot in late for a double leg and got a takedown to seal things. Cronin did get an escape, but with the riding-time point Lee got the 8-2 decision win over the Cornhusker.
Despite not getting the win, Cronin laid out the groundwork for beating Lee. If you can withstand the initial first-period onslaught, then stay on him while pressuring and making him work, you can tire him out. Then you just need to hope you have enough gas in the tank to steal it in the third period.
Now it’s just 11 days before NCAAs, and the Big Ten finalist Cronin should get a very good seed in Tulsa. The senior is now 20-4 on the year.
Nebraska’s 12-seed Kyle Burwick went 0-3 on Saturday, ending his season with a 13-10 record.
Nebraska’s 3-seed Brock Hardy went 3-0 on Saturday to advance to today’s Big Ten final. Hardy knocked off 2-seed Beau Bartlett of Penn State 7-3 in the semifinal round, setting up his rematch against 1-seed Real Woods of Iowa.
Much like with Cronin vs. Lee, Hardy was facing a dominant Hawkeye in Woods. And much like Lee, Woods is kind of known for starting super fast but fading out pretty early.
Woods started the match with multiple shots on Hardy before finally getting home, elevating Hardy’s leg and getting the takedown. Woods then rode Hardy for the rest of the period, nearly getting back points along the way while racking up 2:20 in riding time.
In the second, Woods chose bottom and Hardy went to work on top with his patented hard ride. Hardy rode Woods the entire period, nearly gathering back points along the way. He did get two stalling calls on Woods, getting a point for the second, cutting Woods’ lead to 2-1.
In the final period, Hardy chose neutral much like Cronin did against Lee. Hardy was able to get in on Woods a couple times, but the Hawkeye’s defense was solid. The match ended in a scramble where both guys could have come out on top but the period ended with no points, giving Woods the 2-1 decision win.
Hardy is now 27-5 on the year going into nationals.
Nebraska’s 11-seed Dayne Morton went 0-2 on Saturday, dropping him down to the 9th-place bracket, necessary because of the Big Ten receiving nine NCAA tournament allocations.
After a first-round bye, Morton took on Rutgers’ 10-seed Tony White in today’s semifinal round. Morton struck first with a takedown in the first period before giving up the escape. Morton chose bottom to start the second period and wasn’t able to get the escape. White then tied things with an escape in the third period.
With things tied at 2-2, the match went to sudden victory where White was able to get in on Morton for the winning takedown.
With the 4-2 loss, Morton finishes his season with a 5-15 record.
Nebraska’s 1-seed Peyton Robb did what he was supposed to do on Saturday, winning two matches to make it to today’s Big Ten final against 2-seed Levi Haines of Penn State.
Against the surging true freshman from Penn State, Robb nearly ended a scoreless first period with a toe-drag takedown, but the referees called it not a takedown after a review.
Robb scored a nice escape in the second period with a roll-through, but Haines got an escape of his own to start the third. With the match tied at 1-1, the two went to overtime.
In sudden-victory overtime, the two got into an exchange that ended with Haines picking up Robb and slamming him to the mat for the emphatic takedown, ending the Husker’s conference title hopes and handing him his first loss of the year.
Levi. Haines. pic.twitter.com/5rnlfk5Sje— The Wrestling Room (Pat Mineo) (@MrPatMineo) March 5, 2023
Robb is now 25-1 on the year heading into nationals.
Despite five Huskers making it to the Big Ten finals, it’s 10-seed Bubba Wilson who may have had the best day on Saturday. After a first-round loss, Wilson then won two straight matches, advancing to today’s consolation semifinal round. Along the way, Wilson upset 4-seed Alex Facundo of Penn State in the consolation quarters.
In the consolation semis, Wilson took on 2-seed Cam Amine of Michigan. The two wrestled to a 1-1 tie before Amine won in tie-breakers on an escape and a locked-hands call on Wilson, dropping Wilson 3-1 via decision.
In the 5th-place match, Wilson faced 6-seed Maxx Mayfield of Northwestern, a Lincoln native. With the match tied at 1-1 late in the third period, Mayfield was able to take Wilson down for the 3-1 win over the Husker.
With his 6th-place finish, Wilson is heading to NCAAs with a 15-13 record on the year.
After going 2-0 on Saturday, Nebraska’s 2-seed Mikey Labriola took on Penn State’s 1-seed Carter Starocci in today’s conference final in a matchup of undefeated wrestlers.
The two wrestled a scoreless first period before Labriola scored an escape in the second but not until Starocci racked up 1:05 in riding time. Starocci then hit a clutch late takedown and ride-out, taking a 2-1 lead into the third.
Labriola then gave up an escape to start the third. Down 3-1 with Starocci over a minute of riding time, Labriola was on the hunt for offense but couldn’t get through Starocci’s defense. The Nittany Lion then scored a late takedown on Labriola to ice the match. With the riding time point, Starocci downed Labriola via 6-1 decision.
After finishing as runner-up, Labriola is now 26-1 on the year going into nationals.
Nebraska’s 7-seed Lenny Pinto started his first Big Ten tournament by going 3-1 on Saturday, advancing to this afternoon’s consolation semifinal against 4-seed Matt Finesilver of Michigan.
Against the Wolverine senior, Pinto started fast with a takedown in the first period before giving up a quick escape. Finesilver then tied things up in the second with an escape before scoring a takedown of his own. Finesilver then was able to turn Pinto over with a bow-and-arrow (look it up) for four nearfall points, jumping out to an 8-2 lead.
The third period ended scoreless, sending Pinto to the 5th-place match where he faced 8-seed Brian Soldano of Rutgers. Pinto made quick work of Soldano, picking up the first-period pinfall in just over a minute to finish fifth at his first Big Ten tournament.
Pinto is now 23-9 on the season going into nationals.
On Sunday night, the Huskers really did save the best for last. With four Huskers falling in their final matchups before he took the mat, 2-seed Silas Allred was able to secure an individual conference title for the Huskers.
After going 2-0 on Saturday to advance to today’s final, Allred took on 1-seed Max Dean of Penn State. A 2022 NCAA champion, Dean was looking to keep the Penn State momentum going after they won titles at 174 and 184.
But it was the redshirt freshman Allred who stole the show at 197 pounds. Allred scored a first-period takedown while giving up an escape, taking a 2-1 lead into the second period. Allred then gave up an escape in the second period, evening things at 2-2. Midway through the period, Allred shot from space on a low double and was able to collect Dean’s legs for the takedown before giving up another escape.
Up 4-3, Allred chose neutral to start the third, avoiding Dean’s punishing top game. Even with the lead, Allred kept shooting in the final frame before eventually icing things late with a third takedown for the 6-3 decision win and a Big Ten title.
Here’s another angle at his winning takedown. I think the joy on head coach Mark Manning’s face says it all for this Husker team that finally broke through and crowned another Big Ten champ.
With the title, Allred is now 26-5 and will certainly get a top seed at NCAAs.
Filling in for injured starter Cale Davidson, 14-seed Austin Emerson finished his career on Saturday. He went 0-3 on the day, dropping him to 10-7 on the year.