The Huskers will send a pair of competitors to their age-level World Championships this year.
In the U20 division, incoming recruit Camden McDanel won his best-of-three series to earn a spot on the World Team at 97kg (214 pounds). Current Husker and sophomore-to-be Brock Hardy won his bracket in the U23 division competing at 65kg (143 pounds).
The U20 World Championships will take place in Warsaw, Poland in mid August. The U23 World Championships will be in late October in Tampere, Finland.
Beyond Hardy and McDanel, Nebraska had a number of other impressive performances — some expected and some not so expected. Overall, it was a very positive performance from this group of young Huskers.
Two years ago, Nebraska had two wrestlers make the U23 World Team in Peyton Robb and Mikey Labriola. Last year, Robb, Ridge Lovett and Bubba Wilson all made it to the semifinal round but fell short of putting anyone on the team.
This year, Nebraska got back on the U23 World Team with Hardy winning the 65kg bracket, going 7-0 over the weekend.
Looks like Brock Hardy will be heading to the U23 World Championships pic.twitter.com/MO0xSCn4qq— NEwrestle (@NEBwrestle) June 4, 2023
Seeded second, Hardy started his weekend with two straight wins via tech before pinning 18-seed CJ Composto in 45 seconds, putting him in the quarterfinal round.
Hardy beat 7-seed Jesse Vasquez of Arizona State 10-8 in the quarters before downing 6-seed Kyle Rowan of Stanford 13-3 via tech fall, putting him in the best-of-three finals against 13-seed Ryan Jack of NC State.
Jack upset 1-seed Cole Matthews in the semis to get to the finals against Hardy. These two spit matches during the NCAA season.
In these freestyle finals, Hardy and Jack went back and forth but Hardy ended up on the winning end of things both times, winning the first match 9-5 and the second 10-5.
If not for Hardy, the Husker story at U23s would have been the tournament had by Bubba Wilson who finished third and went an astonishing 10-1. A junior-to-be, the 23-seed Wilson won his first two matches before falling to 10-seed Matt Lee 9-4 in the round of 32. Wilson then went on an absolute tear, winning eight straight matches in the consolation bracket to finish third. Wilson recorded three wins via pinfall and two more via tech fall during his run through the back side, including a pin against 6-seed Cael Swensen in the 3rd-place match.
Another Husker who shined was 6-seed Kyle Burwick who will be a junior this season after starting for most of last year as a sophomore. Wrestling at 61kg, Burwick won his first three matches before falling to 14-seed Ethan Oakley 7-5 in the quarterfinal round. Burwick then beat 4-seed Kurtis Phipps and 7-seed Alex Almeyda before losing to 1-seed Cullan Schriever in the consolation semis, dropping him to the 5th-place match.
In the 5th-place match, Burwick took on 2-seed Dominick Serrano, a former Husker starter that transferred this past season to Northern Colorado. Burwick beat Serrano 11-0 via first-period tech to finish in 5th place.
Big Ten Champion Silas Allred won his first three matches at 92kg via tech fall before losing to 1-seed Luke Surber in the semis. Allred then forfeited out of the tournament and finished in 6th place.
At 79kg, Elise Brown Ton had a nice tournament but failed to place. He won his first match via 10-0 tech fall before getting pinned in his second match while leading in the second period. Brown Ton then won his next four matches on the back side before losing to 3-seed Dan Braunagel. The front-runner to start for the departed Labriola at 174 pounds, Brown Ton went 5-2 on the weekend.
Recent Appalachian State transfer Caleb Smith competed at 57kg. He went 3-2 on the weekend and didn’t place. Incoming recruit Chris Minto went 6-2 at 74kg but did not place.
Leading the Huskers at U20 was McDanel. One of the best recruits in the country that projects as a 197-pounder, McDanel won the US Open Championship in April which earned him a bye into the best-of-three finals at the World Team Trials at 97kg.
McDanel took on 3-seed Steven Burrell Jr., the winner of Saturday’s World Team challenge tournament. The future Husker pretty comfortably won both matches against Burrell, a Virginia signee. McDanel won the first match 11-6 before downing Burrell 8-2 in the second to earn his spot on the World Team.
Another finalist for the Huskers in U20 was Antrell Taylor at 70kg. Taylor redshirted this year at 157 pounds for Nebraska. He recently made it to the US Open final where he fell to super-recruit Meyer Shapiro of Cornell. The top recruit in the class of 2021, Shapiro redshirted this past season and is likely the replacement for the departed 4-time NCAA Champion Yianni Diakomihalis at 149 pounds.
On Saturday, Taylor went 3-0 as the 1-seed at 70kg to win the challenge tournament, giving him another crack at Shapiro in a best-of-three series. Against Shapiro, Taylor lost the first match 8-0 before losing via 11-0 tech fall in the second.
This year’s likely heavyweight for the Huskers is Harley Andrews. As the 5-seed, Andrews lost his first match in the quarters 13-3 via tech fall to 4-seed Nathan Taylor. Andrews then won two matches on the back side via tech fall before losing again to Taylor in the 3rd-place match, this time via 14-4 tech fall. Going 2-2, Andrews finished in 4th place.
Incoming freshman Ethan Stiles competed at 70kg as the 10-seed. After falling in his first match via tech fall to 7-seed Beau Mantanona, Stiles then beat 8-seed Ty Whalen and 5-seed Ryder Downey in the consolations — both via tech fall. In the consolation semis, Stiles fell to 11-seed Kaleb Larkin 10-0 before winning via no contest to finish in 5th place.
Last but not least was Ismael Ayoub, the 11-seed at 65kg. A former Fargo All-American, Ayoub upset 6-seed Dylan Chappell 8-5 in the Round of 16. He then fell to 3-seed Cole Brooks via pinfall in the quarters as a result of a shoulder injury that knocked him out of the tournament. At the time of the injury, Ayoub was leading Brooks 6-3. Likely a backup at 141 pounds, Ayoub redshirted last season and will have time to heal up before the season.
Wrestling on Friday, Nebraska’s Tyler Antoniak competed at 72kg as the 5-seed. Antoniak won his first match in the quarterfinal round via 11-1 tech fall before winning an 8-0 tech in the semis.
In the finals of the challenge tournament, Antoniak fell to 3-seed Braden Stauffenberg 8-0 in the first period, ending his tournament with a 2-1 record.