clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Wrestling: Who Will #2 Nebraska Face Off Against in 2024?

Nebraska has a trio of non-conference duals as well as Big Ten dual season to look forward to as we turn the calendars over to 2024

Nebraska’s #1 Ridge Lovett is undefeated on the year and could stay that way heading into the postseason.
Dylan Guenther / CORN NATION

Now that we’ve taken stock of the season so far, it’s time to take a look ahead to 2024 and what lies ahead for the 2nd-ranked Huskers.

Nebraska has a tough slate coming with 11 duals between now and the postseason. Here’s Nebraska’s remaining schedule (FloWrestling team tournament rankings used):

Jan. 6 — vs. #31 Wyoming (2 p.m.)

Jan. 6 — vs. #16 UNI (4 p.m.)

Jan. 12 — vs. #4 Iowa (6:30 p.m.)

Jan. 19 — at #35 Minnesota (9 p.m.)

Jan. 21 — vs. #25 Purdue (1 p.m.)

Jan. 26 — at #42 Northwestern (7 p.m.)

Jan. 28 — at #27 Wisconsin (1 p.m.)

Feb. 4 — vs. #25 Illinois (2 p.m.)

Feb. 9 — vs. #12 Michigan (6 p.m.)

Feb. 18 — at #1 Penn State (3 p.m.)

Feb. 25 — at #7 Arizona State (TBA)

Mar. 9-10 — Big Ten Championships

Mar. 21-23 — NCAA Championships

Obviously, the Huskers’ schedule is tough with Top-10 duals against #1 Penn State, #4 Iowa and #7 Arizona State on the horizon. And if you break it down to potential matchups, 10 of Nebraska’s 11 upcoming opponents have at least one Top-10 wrestler on their roster.

Let’s break down the possible upcoming matchups this year’s Huskers may face.

Upcoming Matches vs. Ranked Opponents

125 pounds

#5 Caleb Smith (13-1)

#3 Matt Ramos - Purdue

#4 Richard Figueroa - Arizona St.

#7 Jore Volk - Wyoming

#10 Michael DeAugustino - Michigan

#14 Eric Barnett - Wisconsin

#17 Drake Ayala - Iowa

#19 Patrick McKee - Minnesota

#23 Trever Anderson - UNI

#29 Braeden Davis - Penn State

Caleb Smith hit the ground running as soon as he arrived in Lincoln and he’ll need to keep it up as he could face nine currently ranked foes in duals.

This upcoming weekend, he’ll get a shot at redemption against #7 Jore Volk, the only wrestler to beat him this year. He’ll also face #23 Trever Anderson this next weekend.

Smith opens Big Ten action against #17 Drake Ayala who will likely be ranked much higher soon as he beat both Volk and #19 Patrick McKee this weekend at the Soldier Salute.

At the end of the year, Smith could face #4 Richard Figueroa, but the Sun Devil redshirt freshman has struggled to get on the mat this year as he’s dealt with injury.

With a schedule like this, Smith will have ample opportunity to prove he’s a national championship contender. There certainly won’t be any gimme matches along the way.

133 pounds

#33 Jacob Van Dee (10-4)

#4 Aaron Nagao - Penn State

#7 Chris Cannon - Michigan

#11 Brody Teske - Iowa

#19 Julian Farber - UNI

#20 Julian Chlebove - Arizona State

#21 Tyler Wells - Minnesota

#25 Anthony Madrigal - Illinois

Facing a slightly more manageable path than Smith, redshirt freshman #33 Jacob Van Dee still has a number of matches against top competition as he attempts to prove himself. He’s fresh off a 2nd-place finish at the Soldier Salute where he fell to #11 Brody Teske in a tight 5-4 decision.

After a ranked matchup against #19 Julian Farber this next weekend, Van Dee will get another crack at Teske in Nebraska’s conference-opening dual against Iowa. The Big Ten isn’t as deep as usual at 133 pounds, so the Husker won’t see another highly ranked opponent until taking on #7 Chris Cannon and #4 Aaron Nagao to end the conference slate.

141 pounds

#6 Brock Hardy (9-3)

#1 Real Woods - Iowa

#2 Beau Bartlett - Penn State

#9 Cael Happel - UNI

#19 Danny Pucino - Illinois

#22 Jesse Vasquez - Arizona State

#31 Vance Vombaur - Minnesota

#33 Sergio Lemley - Michigan

Hardy has been solid this year but has had some setbacks. He has the opportunity these next couple months to re-insert his name in the championship conversation.

He starts his 2024 with a Top-10 matchup against #9 Cael Happel this weekend. At CKLV, Happel downed Hardy in a wild 15-13 match, so this one is a must-watch.

To start the Big Ten slate, Hardy will again see top-rated Real Woods. Hardy wrestled him three times last year, falling in all three matches but the matches were close — Woods won a 2-1 match in the Big Ten final but beat Hardy via major decision at NCAAs after Hardy suffered a broken rib in the beginning of their match. Woods also beat Hardy 6-4 in their dual matchup last year.

After facing Woods, Hardy sees a little bit of a lull in his schedule as the highest ranked guy on the schedule is #19 Danny Pucino before he travels to take on #2 Beau Bartlett to end his Big Ten season. Hardy and Bartlett have wrestled once with Hardy winning a 7-3 decision at Big Tens last year.

With upcoming matches against Nos. 1 and 2 in the rankings, Hardy controls his destiny in an attempt to win conference and national titles.

149 pounds

#1 Ridge Lovett (12-0)

#3 Kyle Parco - Arizona State

#8 Victor Voinovich - Iowa

#12 Joseph Zargo - Wisconsin

#16 Kannon Webster - Illinois

#21 Sam Cartella - Northwestern

#24 Gabe Willochell - Wyoming

#32 Drew Roberts - Minnesota

Facing possibly the “easiest” remaining schedule is #1 Ridge Lovett. A lot of that is because previously #2-ranked Shayne Van Ness of Penn State is out for the year with an injury. I guess we’ll have to wait until next season to see that matchup.

Against Iowa, it’s unclear who will be the starter. Eighth-ranked Victor Voinovich has been the starter but he was beaten by teammate Caleb Rathgen 6-3 in the semis of the Soldier Salute this past weekend. Rathgen went on to beat incoming Hawkeye freshman Anthony Ferrari in the final 7-2, a match that caused a lot of controversy and threw this weight into limbo for the Hawkeyes.

After that, the only real threat to Lovett would be #3 Kyle Parco to end the regular season. There is also the possibility that Lovett could face former foe Austin Gomez (now with Michigan) this year after he was granted another year of eligibility from the NCAA from his time battling injuries at Iowa State. Gomez beat Lovett twice two seasons ago while wrestling for Wisconsin, a 4-2 decision in a dual before pinning Lovett in just 20 seconds at Big Tens.

In my opinion, the only guy that could pose a threat to Lovett capturing Big Ten and NCAA gold would be Gomez, especially after Lovett took out #2 Caleb Henson of Virginia Tech 4-3 in the CKLV final.

157 pounds

#3 Peyton Robb (13-0)

#1 Levi Haines - Penn State

#2 Jared Franek - Iowa

#4 Jacori Teemer - Arizona State

#8 Will Lewan - Michigan

#13 Ryder Downey - UNI

#15 Trevor Chumbley - Northwestern

#17 Michael Blockhus - Minnesota

#22 Joey Blaze - Purdue

#32 Joseph Roberts - Illinois

Facing probably the toughest schedule on the team would be its leader #3 Peyton Robb. A beloved senior, Robb has already faced two Top-10 wrestlers and beaten them both. Still to come for Robb are tilts against #1 Levi Haines, No. 2 Jared Franek, #4 Jacori Teemer and #8 Will Lewan.

Last season, Robb lost two really close matches to NCAA finalist Haines while going 2-1 against Franek. One loss to each Haines and Franek came at NCAAs where it was later found out that Robb was dealing with a flesh-eating bacterial infection in his leg, so I think he deserves a pass in those matches. In the Big Ten final, Robb lost to Haines in sudden victory.

Robb won a CKLV title by beating Teemer 6-4 this year and is 3-0 against the Sun Devil. Robb also thoroughly controlled Lewan in an 8-2 decision win at CKLV.

Much like Hardy, Robb controls his own destiny and will have the chance to prove he’s the top guy at 157 pounds.

165 pounds

#17 Antrell Taylor (9-2)

#5 Cam Amine - Michigan

#6 Dean Hamiti - Wisconsin

#7 Michael Caliendo - Iowa

#19 Mitchell Messenbrink - Penn State

#22 Maxx Mayfield - Northwestern

The Big Ten doesn’t have the top talent it’s used to here at 165 pounds — the Big 12 boasts NCAA champions #1 Keegan O’Toole of Missouri and #2 David Carr of Iowa State. I say this not to diminish Taylor’s schedule but to show that it’s manageable.

The Big Ten does have a trio of established guys at this weight in #5 Cam Amine, #6 Dean Hamiti and #7 Michael Caliendo. Amine is a three-time All-American for the Wolverines, while Hamiti is a two-time placer. Caliendo is a sophomore Hawkeye who transferred from NDSU this offseason after placing 7th as a freshman.

Beyond that trio, Taylor’s biggest test will be #19 Mitchell Messenbrink. A redshirt freshman, Messenbrink won a gold medal at the U20 World Championships this fall.

174 pounds

#20 Bubba Wilson (8-4)

#1 Carter Starocci - Penn State

#5 Edmond Ruth - Illinois

#6 Gabe Arnold - Iowa

#10 Shane Griffith - Michigan

#21 Andrew Sparks - Minnesota

#22 Max Maylor - Wisconsin

It seems like Nebraska has figured out its 174-pound starter with #20 Bubba Wilson, but he’ll have to prove himself against six remaining ranked foes.

The former 165-pounder may struggle against some of the top guys in the country like three-time NCAA Champion Carter Starocci of Penn State, but then again everyone has trouble against him. After giving #3 Cade DeVos a tight match, I anticipate Wilson keeping things close against guys like #5 Edmond Ruth and #6 Gabe Arnold.

Another tough test will be former 165-pound national champ Shane Griffith who won his title while wrestling for Stanford. He’s since moved on to Michigan and moved up to 174 for his final season. Wilson lost a 10-0 major decision to Griffith last season at NCAAs.

184 pounds

#5 Lenny Pinto (11-2)

#1 Parker Keckeisen - UNI

#2 Bernie Truax - Penn State

#10 Isaiah Salazar - Minnesota

#12 Jaden Bullock - Michigan

#22 Tony Negron - Arizona State

#27 Dylan Connell - Illinois

For #5 Lenny Pinto, the fireworks on his remaining schedule are early and late. A sophomore, Pinto has had a solid start to his year with his only losses coming to #1 Parker Keckeisen and #3 Dustin Plott of Oklahoma State — Pinto split matches with Plott at CKLV, winning 12-10 before falling 11-7.

This next weekend, Pinto will get another crack at Keckeisen in a dual after dropping an 8-4 decision at CKLV. Pinto is one of two wrestlers this season to hold Keckeisen to a regular decision.

Pinto will have tough matchups that can’t be overlooked against guys like #10 Isaiah Salazar and #12 Jaden Bullock coming up. He’s 0-1 against Salazar but beat Bullock 9-6 at CKLV. After those, he’ll end his season against #2 Bernie Truax then #22 Tony Negron. A transfer from Cal Poly, Truax is a three-time All-American at three different weights (174, 184, 197) and looks like another Penn State national title contender in his final season at 184.

Don’t sleep on Negron, a Penn State transfer who’s now lacing it up for the Sun Devils. He’ll likely be ranked much higher when he meets Pinto.

197 pounds

#13 Silas Allred (11-3)

#1 Aaron Brooks - Penn State

#19 Joey Novak - Wyoming

#23 Garrett Joles - Minnesota

#24 Evan Bates - Northwestern

#25 Zach Glazier - Iowa

#29 Wyatt Voelker - UNI

After an up-and-down start to the year, #13 Silas Allred has a pretty manageable schedule.

Assuming he’s healthy after sustaining a concussion against SDSU a couple weeks ago, Allred could face a pair of ranked foes this weekend as the Huskers host Wyoming and UNI. He could face #19 Joey Novak and #29 Wyatt Voelker.

In my time watching Allred, he pretty reliably beats the guys he’s supposed to, and he’s supposed to beat Novak and Voelker. It’s the top guys that he’s struggled against at times.

And after going through an uncharacteristically weak 197-pound weight class in the Big Ten, he’ll end his conference slate against three-time NCAA Champion #1 Aaron Brooks. Brooks pushed Olympic Champion David Taylor for a World spot this past summer and has moved up from 184 where he won his three NCAA titles. He’s next level. Allred could have trouble with him, as pretty much everyone does.

With a remaining schedule devoid of top-tier opposition outside of Brooks, Allred could be in the Top 5 when these two guys hit in February.

285 pounds

Harley Andrews (8-8)

#1 Greg Kerkvliet - Penn State

#4 Lucas Davison - Michigan

#5 Cohlton Schultz - Arizona State

#9 Luke Luffman - Illinois

#16 Tyrell Gordon - UNI

#33 Bennett Tabor - Minnesota

Nebraska’s Harley Andrews bounced back from a rough start to his season with a 7th-place finish this past weekend at the Soldier Salute. He’s 8-8 on the year with all of his wins coming with bonus points.

This is the type of schedule that certainly prepares a young prospect for the rigors of life at heavyweight in the Big Ten. He could end up facing four Top-10 guys in the next two months in #1 Greg Kerkvliet, #4 Lucas Davison, #5 Cohlton Schultz and #9 Luke Luffman.

Luckily for Andrews, those four matches are the final four duals of the year for him, so he’ll gain some much-needed experience and time in the room between now and then.

This weekend’s match against #16 Tyrell Gordon will go a long way in finding out what we have in Andrews. A two-time NCAA qualifier, Gordon will be a nice measuring stick.