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Wrestling: Nebraska Hits the Road to Face Northwestern and #21 Wisconsin

The 6th-ranked Huskers are heavy favorites to defeat both the Wildcats and the Badgers this weekend

A perfect 17-0, Nebraska’s #1 Ridge Lovett looks to stay perfect on the Huskers’ road weekend.
Dylan Guenther / CORN NATION

Nebraska rebounded from its loss to #3 Iowa with wins last weekend against #9 Minnesota and Purdue.

This weekend, the 6th-ranked Huskers will take on Northwestern on tonight before traveling to Madison to face #21 Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon.

Nebraska has nine of its 10 starters ranked going into the weekend, but it’s unclear who will take the mat for sure. After sending out freshman backup Alan Koehler at 125, Kyle Burwick at 133, and Blake Cushing at 141 for matches last weekend, it’s possible that Nebraska wrestles a few backups or freshmen on redshirt this weekend in a couple duals that Nebraska looks to have some margin for error.

Northwestern is 0-2 in duals this year and will have four ranked guys, led by former Lincoln East star #18 Maxx Mayfield at 165 pounds, setting up a big matchup between Nebraska natives as he’ll take on #16 Antrell Taylor for the Huskers. That would be the match of the dual even if it wasn’t two Nebraska boys toeing the line.

The Badgers of Wisconsin are 6-2 on the year and have six ranked wrestlers with two in the Top-10, led by #5 Dean Hamiti at 165 pounds, setting up Taylor with another big matchup this weekend.

Tonight’s dual will air live on the B1G+ (subscription required) at 7 p.m. Sunday’s dual at Wisconsin will stream on B1G+ at 1 p.m.

Weight-by-Weight Breakdown

Rankings according to FloWrestling

125 pounds

Nebraska will send out either #10 Caleb Smith or true freshman Alan Koehler this weekend, or maybe both. A junior, Smith is 14-4 on the year but is 1-3 in his last four matches, dropping a 19-4 tech fall to Minnesota’s #14 Patrick McKee last time out. Alan Koehler is 3-1 on the year and set to redshirt — he can wrestle three more duals without pulling his redshirt. Last weekend, he fell to NCAA finalist #3 Matt Ramos of Purdue via 19-4 tech fall.

On deck this weekend will be Northwestern’s Massey Otto and Wisconsin’s #3 Eric Barnett. Otto is a true freshman with a 3-8 record on the year. He’s coming off a 21-4 tech fall win over Maryland’s Tommy Cupul. This could be a good match for Koehler to get some more action while giving Smith some rest before taking on Barnett on Sunday.

A two-time All-American, Barnett is 16-2 on the year. His losses are to Iowa State’s #24 Kysen Terukina 14-3 and an 8-5 decision to #1 Luke Stanich of Lehigh. He’s coming off a pinfall win over Ohio State’s #21 Brendan McCrone. In what will be the only Top-10 matchup of the dual, this match is sure to set the tone for the Huskers.

133 pounds

Another weight where Nebraska wrestled two guys last weekend, it will be either #26 Jacob Van Dee or Kyle Burwick. A redshirt freshman, Van Dee is 13-5 on the year and has won two matches in a row. A junior, Burwick is a former Wisconsin transfer and is 3-3 this season. Against Minnesota, Burwick fell to #23 Tyler Wells 6-3 in sudden victory.

This weekend, Nebraska will see Northwestern’s Patrick Adams and Wisconsin’s #32 Nicolar Rivera. A sophomore, Adams is 0-6 this season and just lost to #15 Braxton Brown of Maryland via 18-3 tech fall.

A redshirt freshman, Rivera is 8-5 on the year. Last time out, he fell to Ohio State’s #10 Nic Bouzakis via 19-11 major decision. He will certainly pose a challenge to either Van Dee or Burwick.

I anticipate Nebraska wrestling both guys this weekend. I think, ideally, Van Dee would take on Rivera and Burwick could face Adams, but with Burwick being a former Badger, he could get the nod in Madison.

141 pounds

Nebraska’s #7 Brock Hardy is 11-5 this season and coming off an 8-3 win over Minnesota’s Vance Vombaur. He’s lost two of his last three matches. Filling in for Hardy this past weekend against Purdue was Blake Cushing who downed #32 Greyson Clark 7-5. Cushing is 12-3 this year and 4-2 against DI competition.

Nebraska will face off against Northwestern’s Joel Vandervere and Wisconsin’s Felix Lettini. Vandervere is a sophomore and holds a 4-2 record this year and is on a two-match losing streak. Lettini is 2-10 this season and coming off a 21-5 tech fall loss to #3 Jesse Mendez of Ohio State.

Regardless of who wrestles for Nebraska in these matches, they’ll be the favorite.

149 pounds

Still perfect on the year, #1 Ridge Lovett is coming off a pinfall win over Purdue’s Marcos Polanco and a pair of shutouts against Minnesota and Iowa.

This weekend, Lovett could take on Sam Cartella of Northwestern and Wisconsin’s #15 Joe Zargo. Cartella is a true freshman with a 13-7 record on the year, but it looks like the Wildcats plan to redshirt him as they’ve been wrestling Aiden Vandenbush in duals — he’s 3-10 this year and coming off an 18-3 tech fall loss to #22 Ethen Miller of Maryland.

A junior for the Badgers, Zargo is 11-4 on the year. Last time out, he lost to #7 Dylan D’Emilio via 12-4 major decision. For persepective, Lovett beat D’Emilio this year 11-0 by major.

Again, Lovett likely rolls through this weekend’s opponents.

157 pounds

Having lost four straight matches, #12 Peyton Robb (14-4) is looking for a rebound weekend as he gets set to face Northwestern’s #22 Trevor Chumbley and Wisconsin’s Luke Mechler.

Chumbley is 10-5 on the year but was pinned by #32 Michael North of Maryland last time out. He finished as runner-up at Midlands, falling to #4 Jacori Teemer 11-6 in the final. At CKLV, Robb downed Teemer 6-4. Robb is 2-0 in his career against Chumbley.

Mechler is a sophomore with a 5-10 record on the year. Last time out, he fell to #23 Isaac Wilcox of Ohio State 4-2.

It’s possible that Robb needs a break at this point in the season. If that happens, I’d expect to see true freshman Ethan Stiles take the mat. He’s 14-1 this year (2-1 against DI) and looks like one of Nebraska’s better freshmen. He’s wrestled in three tournaments, so he can still get in on two duals while keeping his redshirt.

165 pounds

Facing the toughest set of opponents this weekend will be #16 Antrell Taylor (13-3 this season) as he gets set to wrestle #18 Maxx Mayfield of Northwestern and #5 Dean Hamiti of Wisconsin.

The former Lincoln East standout, Mayfield is a junior with an 11-6 record this year. He’s won three straight matches, including a 16-3 major over AJ Rodriguez of Maryland last time out.

In what could be Taylor’s biggest test so far in his career, Hamiti is a two-time All-American and 16-1 on the year. His only loss was a 2-0 decision to #2 David Carr of Iowa State. A win here would be huge for Taylor’s season and career trajectory.

174 pounds

Sporting an 11-6 record on the year, Nebraska’s #26 Bubba Wilson has lost two of his last three matches. He lost to #13 Patrick Kennedy of Iowa 9-5 before falling to Purdue’s Brody Baumann 7-2 last time out. Against Minnesota, Wilson downed Sam Skillings 4-2.

This weekend, he’ll face both David Ferrante of Northwestern and Wisconsin’s #15 Max Maylor. Ferrante is 9-7 on the year after losing three straight, while Maylor is 8-3 on the year. Last time out, Maylor fell to #14 Rocco Welsh of Ohio State 7-3.

Both of these matches are winnable for Wilson, but they’ll likely both be close ones.

184 pounds

Last weekend, Nebraska’s #3 Lenny Pinto (13-3) dropped a 4-1 decision to #6 Isaiah Salazar before downing Purdue’s James Rowley 7-1.

This weekend, Pinto will face #23 Troy Fisher of Northwestern and #20 Shane Liegel of Wisconsin. Fisher is 8-4 this season and just beat Maryland’s Chase Mielnik 4-2. He also has a 12-10 win over #18 Layne Malczewski of Michigan State this season.

Liegel is 15-4 this year and has looked solid. He just beat Ohio State’s #27 Seth Shumate 14-3 by major decision. He’ll test Pinto.

As one of the top guys in the country, Pinto should win both these matches but they won’t be easy for him.

197 pounds

Nebraska’s #14 Silas Allred bounced back from his loss to Iowa’s #13 Zach Glazier last weekend with a pair of wins, highlighted by a 4-1 decision over #26 Garrett Joles of Minnesota.

This weekend, Allred will take the mat against #27 Evan Bates of Northwestern and Josh Otto of Wisconsin. Bates is 6-6 this year and is on a three-match losing streak. Allred downed Bates 11-2 at CKLV this year.

Otto is 1-5 this season with an 8-2 loss last time out to Ohio State’s #23 Luke Geog.

Obviously nothing is guaranteed, but Allred should be a heavy favorite in both these matches.

285 pounds

Nebraska has been splitting time between Nash Hutmacher and Harley Andrews here. Hutmacher is 2-1 after dropping 45 pounds to make 285 pounds, while Andrews is 9-9 on the year. Last time out, he clinched Nebraska’s dual win over Minnesota with a 10-7 win over #33 Bennett Tabor. Hutmacher beat Purdue’s Tristan Ruhlman 5-0 in his last outing.

This weekend, the Huskers will face Jack Jessen or Jon Halvorsen of Northwestern and Gannon Rosenfeld of Wisconsin. Jessen is 4-3 this year, while Halvorsen is 5-4. Against Maryland, Halvorsen beat Kevin Makosy 6-5.

The Badgers have struggled this year at heavyweight after the graduation of All-American Trent Hillger. Rosenfeld is 0-8 on the season. Overall, Wisconsin’s heavies are a combined 0-17 this season.

I see Hutmacher and Andrews both as favorites in these matches. It’ll be interesting to see who Nebraska sends out there. It could be an indication of who has the leg up in the competition to be Nebraska’s postseason starter.