clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Wrestling: Huskers to Face #9 Minnesota and Purdue This Weekend

Nebraska’s matchup against Golden Gophers will air on BTN Friday night as we’ll see seven ranked matchups

Lenny Pinto vs Jon Halvorsen
Nebraska’s #3 Lenny Pinto has a big match against Minnesota’s #10 Isaiah Salazar at 184 pounds on Friday night.
Dylan Guenther / Corn Nation

After starting its conference slate with a 22-10 loss to #3 Iowa, Nebraska has a pair of duals this weekend, one on the road and the other at home.

The 6th-ranked Huskers (5-1 on the year) travel to face #9 Minnesota on Friday night before hosting Purdue on Sunday afternoon.

Nebraska will face a tough test in Minnesota who’s also 5-1 on the year with their only loss coming this past weekend against Iowa by an eerily similar final score of 22-9. The Golden Gophers have eight ranked wrestlers in their starting lineup.

Purdue has four ranked wrestlers, led by NCAA finalist Matt Ramos at 125 pounds.

The Huskers currently have nine ranked wrestlers out of their 10 starters, meaning we’ll see seven ranked matchups against Minnesota and four more against Purdue.

Friday’s dual will air live on the B1G Network at 9 p.m. Sunday’s dual with Purdue at the Devaney Center will stream on B1G+ (subscription required) at 1 p.m.

Weight-by-Weight Breakdown

Rankings according to FloWrestling

125 pounds

Nebraska’s #5 Caleb Smith has lost two of three matches since returning from the holiday break and has a couple big matchups on tap this weekend. Smith took losses the past two weekends to #4 Jore Volk of Wyoming and #1 Drake Ayala of Iowa.

Facing easily the hardest pair of matches this weekend on the team, Smith will first take on 2x All-American #20 Patrick McKee of Minnesota before returning home to face #8 Matt Ramos, a 2023 NCAA finalist.

McKee and Smith have wrestled once before, with Smith earning an 8-5 win at NCAAs in 2022 while at Appalachian State. McKee is 8-3 this year with two losses to Ayala and another to #18 Tanner Jordan of SDSU. McKee lost 9-4 to Jordan, while Smith beat him 6-4 in their dual matchup. Don’t let his #20 ranking fool you, a win over McKee is a real accomplishment.

As for Ramos, he and Smith had a wild marathon match at CKLV that Smith ended up winning 8-4 in overtime. Ramos is 15-3 on the year with some nice wins but also some head-scratching losses, like when he lost to superstar high school wrestler Marcus Blaze at an open tournament early in the season.

Both of these matches will be extremely tough for Smith as he tries to get back on track after such a hot start to his season.

133 pounds

Nebraska’s #25 Jacob Van Dee got his signature win over then-#9 Brody Teske of Iowa last weekend, a 10-4 decision where he secured a takedown in all three periods.

This weekend, Van Dee (12-5) will face Minnesota’s #22 Tyler Wells and Purdue’s Dustin Norris.

Wells, a freshman for the Gophers, is 8-2 this season with some nice wins against Missouri’s #23 Kade Moore (twice) while splitting matches with SDSU’s #16 Derrick Cardinal. In the battle of freshmen, Van Dee is going to need to be on his game if he wants this win.

Purdue’s Norris is 4-8 on the year and has struggled throughout his career, going 17-24 so far as a Boilermaker.

A pair of wins would go a long way in solidifying Van Dee as a top-20 guy.

141 pounds

Going through an apparent sophomore slump, Nebraska’s #8 Brock Hardy has lost two matches in a row to #1 Real Woods of Iowa and #7 Cael Happel of UNI. Hardy lost to Happel in sudden victory but was kind of dominated by Woods in an 8-2 decision. He’s 10-5 on the year.

Looking to get back to his winning ways, Hardy will take on #21 Vance Vombaur of Minnesota and Purdue’s #32 Greyson Clark.

Vombaur is 10-3 on the year and just dropped his own match against Woods 5-2. He’s a solid sophomore in this Gopher lineup. Including his loss to Woods, Vombaur has wrestled the top guys he’s faced tough, including a 7-4 loss to #5 Lachlan McNeil.

A freshman, Clark has been a bright spot for Purdue in their youth movement this season — they have four freshmen and four sophomores in their lineup. He’s 13-3 on the year but has struggled against top competition, falling to #4 Ryan Jack of NC State via 17-2 tech fall. Hardy went 1-1 against Jack last season.

Both of these matches are certainly winnable for Hardy, but these opponents are good enough that he can’t get caught sleeping on them.

149 pounds

Nebraska’s #1 Ridge Lovett is in the middle of an impressive junior season as he’s a perfect 15-0. He’s coming off a 6-0 shutout of Iowa’s #14 Caleb Rathjen. In the six matches since his 4-3 win over #2 Caleb Henson at CKLV, Lovett hasn’t given up more than a single point in a match.

This weekend, he’ll face Minnesota’s Drew Roberts and Marcos Polanco of Purdue. Roberts is a solid 13-3 this season but is coming off a 7-3 loss to Rathjen. Polanco is 6-11 this year and has been beaten badly by each of the top guys he’s faced.

Lovett looks to be on another level this year and I don’t expect him to stumble this weekend against either of these opponents.

157 pounds

It’s been a long time since #3 Peyton Robb lost two matches in a row (if you don’t count when he was fighting a flesh-eating bacteria at NCAAs). You have to go all the way back to February of 2022 when he fell to eventual NCAA Champion Ryan Deakin and Michigan All-American Will Lewan in straight duals.

Despite being 14-2 on the year, he’s coming off a 6-5 loss to UNI’s #10 Ryder Downey and a 5-4 loss to #2 Jared Franek of Iowa. He’s looking to right the ship this weekend against Minnesota’s #14 Michael Blockhus and Purdue’s #23 Joey Blaze.

In Blockhus, Robb has a serious test. This past summer, Blockhus was thought to be done with wrestling and moved on to MMA where he had a fight for Bellator, a first-round TKO via ground and pound. Since that win, he’s returned to the Minnesota program and moved up from 149 to 157 for his senior season. He’s 8-1 on the year and just knocked off Franek 5-4 in a dual on Sunday. His only loss was a 4-2 decision to George Mason’s #30 DJ McGee.

In contrast to the returning senior in Blockhus, Blaze is a true freshman who’s made a splash with his 13-4 record and penchant for big moves and pouring on pace. His best win of the year came in sudden victory over #9 Ed Scott of NC State.

Both Blockhus and Blaze will test Robb, especially with him on a losing skid. Being a senior who’s been through the grind, I expect Robb to bounce back in a big way this weekend.

165 pounds

Nebraska’s #17 Antrell Taylor took his first career dual loss this past weekend when #6 Michael Caliendo beat him 8-3. The redshirt freshman Husker is now 11-3 on the year.

This weekend, he’ll face both Minnesota’s Blaine Brenner and Purdue’s #32 Stoney Buell. Brenner is 13-6 this year and just held Caliendo close in a 5-1 loss.

Buell is 10-6 on the year and actually gave Taylor one of his three losses, a 12-1 major decision loss at CKLV. It’s by far Buell’s best win of the year and Taylor’s worst loss.

Both of these matches present problems for Taylor. I’ll chalk up that major to Buell as an anomaly in Vegas where Taylor struggled as a freshman. I expect he’ll be motivated to get that one back.

174 pounds

Nebraska’s #19 Bubba Wilson has officially entrenched himself as the guy at 174 after losing his spot to Taylor and moving up. He’s coming off a 9-5 loss to Iowa’s Patrick Kennedy but has a 10-5 record on the year.

This weekend, he’ll face both Sam Skillings of Minnesota and Brody Baumann of Purdue. Skillings is 7-2 on the year but just lost to Kennedy via 13-2 major decision. He wrestled #4 Cade DeVos of SDSU tough in a 4-1 loss. Similarly, Wilson wrestled DeVos tough in a 4-2 loss.

Baumann is a redshirt freshman for the Boilermakers with a 9-6 record this year. He’s coming off a pinfall loss to #17 Jackson Turley of Rutgers.

Wilson against Skillings is going to be a good match, one I’m excited to watch. Against, Baumann, Wilson should win comfortably. Beating guys you’re “supposed to” beat will go a long way in Wilson getting the best seed possible at Big Tens and NCAAs.

184 pounds

Nebraska’s #3 Lenny Pinto has one of the biggest matchups on his calendar coming up Friday night against Minnesota’s #10 Isaiah Salazar. Pinto is 12-2 with his losses coming to the top two wrestlers in the country. He’ll also face Purdue’s James Rowley.

Last year, Pinto lost to Salazar 7-6 on a late takedown in a match he was winning up until the final seconds. The Husker sophomore looks much improved this season. This is one of the best Husker matchups this weekend.

Rowley is 6-11 on the year, but don’t let that fool you. He has close losses to #5 Bernie Truax of Penn State, #7 Chris Foca of Cornell and #11 Dylan Fishback of NC State. He also has a win over Ohio State’s super freshman recruit/backup while redshirting Ryder Rogatzke, a 13-10 thriller. With Pinto’s big-move potential, this could be a fun one.

Looking to prove he belongs this high in the rankings, these are the kinds of matches you’re expected to win.

197 pounds

After an 11-2 major decision loss to #13 Zach Glazier of Iowa, Nebraska’s #14 Silas Allred is down, but he’s anything but out. I’ve talked with him in the past and he’s solid mentally. He’s just figuring it out and has taken a few lumps along the way. After winning a Big Ten Championship as a redshirt freshman, there were high expectations coming into this year and he’s struggled at times against better competition. He’s still 13-4 on the year with his losses to #5, #9, #12 and #13 in the rankings. He’ll be fine.

This weekend, he’ll take on Minnesota’s #26 Garrett Joles, a veteran who even stepped up to heavyweight for a season and went 15-16. Joles is 12-5 on the year with all his losses coming to ranked opponents. He lost two close matches to Glazier (4-2 and 5-4).

Against Purdue, Allred will face Ben Vanadia. A sophomore, Vanadia is 6-10 on the year and just got beat by #11 John Poznanski of Rutgers 18-3 via tech fall.

A win in the Joles match would do a lot to ease the worry about Allred as he tries to bounce back.

285 pounds

I think it’s clear that Nash Hutmacher is going to be Nebraska’s starter, although I do think they’ll give Harley Andrews some matches for competition and development. Hutmacher is 1-1 this year, while Andrews is 8-9. After pinning his first opponent from Wyoming, Hutmacher fell to Iowa’s Bradley Hill 4-1.

This weekend, Nebraska will face Minnesota’s #30 Bennett Tabor and Purdue’s Tristan Ruhlman.

Tabor was a big-time recruit and is 14-3 on the year. He most recently fell to Iowa’s #29 Ben Kueter, the football player/wrestler for the Hawkeyes that was a possible opponent for Hutmacher last weekend. A U20 World Champion, Kueter is a true freshman and can wrestle in five duals and keep his redshirt. It’s likely we would have seen Kueter vs. Hutmacher last week if the Hawkeyes hadn’t had the dual locked up going into heavyweight. He was warming up in the tunnel during Allred’s loss to Glazier, but Iowa opted for Hill against Hutmacher.

Ruhlman is 3-13 on the year and coming off a 14-3 major decision loss to #7 Yaraslau Slavikowski of Rutgers.

With such a small sample size so far and so many variables with Hutmacher’s move to wrestling, it’s hard to say what will happen here against Tabor. I think it will go a long way in determining if Hutmacher can compete against NCAA-qualifier caliber guys.

Against Ruhlman, we could see Andrews get a shot at impressing. He was a high-caliber recruit for a reason. As a redshirt freshman, life can sometimes be tough in Division I, especially in the Big Ten.