Friday night was a true moment for 5th-ranked Nebraska wrestling. Facing an opportunity to take on #9 Michigan at home on the raised stage in front of the third-largest crowd in program history, Nebraska exceeded every expectation by downing the Wolverines 25-7.
Thanks for bringing the energy, Husker Nation! ⚡️— Nebraska Wrestling (@HuskerWrestling) February 10, 2024
Tonight's attendance: 4️⃣,9️⃣5️⃣8️⃣. pic.twitter.com/PgauWplUcq
In a dual that looked like a coin flip on paper against a team that just beat the breaks off #3 Iowa 24-11 a week ago, the Huskers weren’t a popular pick to win this thing in the wrestling community. With 50-50 matches up and down the bout order, this thing could have gone a number of different ways.
Instead, the Huskers came out and put the dual away in a hurry, winning the first six matches to go up 18-0 — after Michigan started their dual with Iowa last week winning the first five bouts to go up 15-0. Nebraska did to Michigan what Michigan did to Iowa. In all, the Huskers earned eight wins in ten matches.
And all of that happening on Senior Night — Nebraska paid tribute to its three seniors Peyton Robb, Nash Hutmacher and Brandyn Van Tassell. Everyone knows all about the well-documented journeys of Robb and Hutmacher, two wrestlers that will be sorely missed after this season, but sometimes the true backbone of a program are the guys that make the room better without ever really getting on the mat in the big time. I give all my respect to Van Tassell and guys like that who toil away in the shadows, changing weights and acting as training partners for the starters. Van Tassell spent time throughout his career at 184 pounds, 197 and 285. He’s been the epitome of a team player.
With the win, Nebraska improves to 11-1 on the year going into a matchup next week on the road against #1 Penn State. Nebraska will need to bring the same energy it did on Friday night if it wants to have a shot against the Nittany Lions.
Penn State has what looks like an all-time great team on its hands, so keep track of Corn Nation for the preview this week.
*FloWrestling individual rankings used
In the first match, Nebraska’s #9 Caleb Smith took on Michigan’s #10 Michael DeAugustino, a former All-American at Northwestern before transferring to Michigan for his senior season.
DeAugustino started the match with the first takedown before Smith kicked away for the quick escape. In the second, Smith started on top and gave up an escape after racking up a minute of riding time.
In the third, Smith started on bottom and was able to hip out and get a reversal, catching DeAugustino’s leg and putting him on his back for four near fall points. DeAugustino then got an escape, but Smith held on for the 8-5 decision win.
With the win, Smith is now 17-5 on the year.
Team Score: Nebraska 3, Michigan 0
Facing probably his biggest challenge yet in his young career, #29 Jacob Van Dee took on Michigan’s undefeated #4 Dylan Ragusin.
A redshirt freshman, Van Dee was able to keep the first period scoreless with some solid leg defense and rolls to collect legs that led to stalemates when Ragusin was in position to score. In the second period, Van Dee struck first when he was awarded a point on a lock hands call on Ragusin in the top position. Van Dee then added another point with an escape to go up 2-0.
In the third, Van Dee started on top but got a little too high on Ragusin who capitalized by shrugging Van Dee off and collecting a reversal, tying the match at 2-2. With the riding time climbing, a ride-out would have given Ragusin a one-point win, but Van Dee was able to get an escape with just seconds left on not only the period clock but with the riding time nearing a minute as well. Off a restart with 8 seconds left, Van Dee escaped with five seconds on the clock and the riding time at 57 seconds, giving him a huge 3-2 decision win, a true statement win for him in his first year in the lineup.
VAN DEEEEEE❗️— Nebraska Wrestling (@HuskerWrestling) February 10, 2024
Another top-10 win to start the dual!
Huskers up 6-0 pic.twitter.com/saomRNpq74
With the win, Van Dee is now 16-6 on the year and bound to move up much higher in the rankings.
Team Score: Nebraska 6, Michigan 0
Facing a red-hot freshman in Michigan’s #13 Sergio Lemley, Nebraska’s #3 Brock Hardy did what he needed to do to get the win and keep the Husker momentum going.
After scoring the opening takedown in the first, Hardy then gave up two reversals and a takedown in a wild second period where Hardy also scored a reversal.
Down 8-6 going into the third, Hardy started on bottom and got a fast escape to cut the deficit to one. Hardy then countered a Lemley shot for the go-ahead takedown before getting another one late when Lemley was throwing the kitchen sink at him, giving him the 13-9 decision.
With the win, Hardy is now 14-5 on the year.
Team Score: Nebraska 9, Michigan 0
This one was the marquee match of the night and it didn’t disappoint when Nebraska’s #1 Ridge Lovett took on Michigan’s #6 Austin Gomez. Gomez is the only current 149-pounder in the country who has a career win over Lovett — he beat him twice in 2022, once via pinfall in just 20 seconds.
By the looks of it, Lovett has carried that chip on his shoulder ever since and put it on Gomez in a dominant win that only solidified his claim to the top spot in the country.
Right off the bat, Gomez tried going upper body and throwing Lovett like he did two years ago in the Big Ten semifinal, but this time Lovett was ready for it, ending up on top before a big mat return and four near fall points for the quick 7-0 lead. He put on a punishing ride for the remaining 2:26 of the period.
HUGE first period for Ridge.— Nebraska Wrestling (@HuskerWrestling) February 10, 2024
7-0 after the first. pic.twitter.com/LCAavj85yO
Lovett chose to start the second period on top and was able to catch Gomez rolling over to his back for two near fall points. Again, Lovett rode out the period, bring his riding time to over four minutes.
In the third, Gomez chose neutral and was able to gather a stall call on Lovett and a takedown on the edge to take the match out of bonus-point territory for Lovett. In the end, Lovett earned the 10-4 decision with the riding-time point.
Note: I was at the dual and it looked to me that Lovett chose top in the second period and Gomez chose neutral in the third. With arguably the best top wrestling in the NCAA in any weight class, I think that it was a perfect strategy for Lovett to choose his strength despite the risk of giving Gomez an escape point. I’ve seen elsewhere online (and even on the BTN broadcast) that people think/have said Gomez chose down in the second and Lovett chose neutral in the third, which would make no sense as both those decisions would put the opponent in their best position. Before the third period started, I saw Gomez gesture to the referee with both his hands up to signal he wanted a neutral start, so that’s what I’m going with.
Team Score: Nebraska 12, Michigan 0
In another ranked matchup, Nebraska’s #14 Peyton Robb took on Michigan’s #12 Will Lewan.
After a scoreless first period that included a double stall call, Robb gave up an escape to start the second. Lewan got hit for stalling again in the period, giving Robb a point and tying the match at 1-1.
In the third, Robb got a fast escape and was able to hold off a late takedown attempt by Lewan that had Robb dangerously close to a late neutral danger call. The call was challenged by Michigan and upheld by the officials, giving Robb the 2-1 decision over the defensive wizard that is Lewan in his final match at the Devaney Center.
With the win, Robb is now 16-4 this season.
Team Score: Nebraska 15, Michigan 0
With all the momentum on the side of Nebraska, #15 Antrell Taylor took on Michigan’s three-time All-American #8 Cam Amine.
After a scoreless first period where Taylor exhibited some elite leg defense, he took the initial lead with an escape in the second period. In the third, Amine answered with an escape of his own before shooting in multiple times but was never able to finish against Taylor.
Heading to sudden victory, the period ended scoreless as Taylor again exhibited solid defense against Amine. Moving to tiebreakers, Taylor started the first 30-second period on top and was able to put on a hard ride, collecting 18 seconds in riding time before giving up an escape. In the second tiebreaker period, Taylor started down and escaped in 13 seconds, giving him the 3-2 win because of his five seconds of riding time.
165 | BOOM ‼️— Nebraska Wrestling (@HuskerWrestling) February 10, 2024
Trelly with another ranked OT win!
Huskers are rolling, 18-0. pic.twitter.com/x7tnVXw2Rl
With this the biggest win of his career to date, the redshirt freshman Taylor is now 16-4 on the year.
Team Score: Nebraska 18, Michigan 0
Michigan was finally able to stop the bleeding when #3 Shane Griffith was able to edge out Nebraska’s #20 Bubba Wilson.
After a scoreless first period, Griffith scored an escape in the second. Choosing neutral to start the third to avoid Griffith’s elite top game (it was the right call), Wilson needed a takedown for a win but was unable to secure one against the 2021 NCAA Champion (for Stanford), dropping the match 1-0.
Regardless of the outcome, wrestling a guy like Griffith as close as Wilson did is an accomplishment in itself. He’s now 12-9 on the year but has multiple close losses to top-shelf guys. Last week, Wilson wrestled #6 Edmond Ruth of Illinois to a 4-0 loss but the score was 1-0 with seconds remaining. Against #4 Cade DeVos in his first ever match at 174 pounds, Wilson kept it close in a 4-2 decision loss. He also fell to #5 Patrick Kennedy 9-5. I just love the way Wilson wrestles and the heart and determination he exhibits. He’s so close to a breakthrough and I’ll be elated for him when it finally comes together in one of these matches against a top guy.
Things don’t get much easier this next week when Wilson will face Penn State’s #1 Carter Starocci, a three-time NCAA Champion going for his fourth.
Team Score: Nebraska 18, Michigan 3
The Huskers got back on the scoreboard in the next match when #3 Lenny Pinto took on Michigan’s #16 Jaden Bullock.
Pinto scored two throw-byes for takedowns in the first period, giving him a 6-2 lead. In the second, Pinto scored an escape and again threw Bullock over for a takedown.
184 | Lenny with a pair of takedowns in the first. He's up 6-2 after 3:00. pic.twitter.com/5AP4cEoIDc— Nebraska Wrestling (@HuskerWrestling) February 10, 2024
In the third, Pinto gave up an escape and didn’t score in the period, giving him the 10-4 decision win.
With the win, Pinto is now 17-3 on the year.
Team Score: Nebraska 21, Michigan 3
Moving onto the match that Nebraska was most heavily favored in, #13 Silas Allred took on Bobby Striggow of Michigan and did his job.
Allred secured a first-period takedown and ride-out before gathering another in the second period to go up 6-1. Allred then started the third period with an escape before adding two more takedowns. With the riding-time point, Allred got the win via 14-2 major decision.
Major secured.— Nebraska Wrestling (@HuskerWrestling) February 10, 2024
Huskers on top 25-3. pic.twitter.com/6nAFv5ECbK
With the win, Allred is now 19-4 on the year with his last five matches bonus-point wins.
Team Score: Nebraska 25, Michigan 3
In the final match, Nebraska’s Nash Hutmacher took the mat against Michigan’s #6 Lucas Davison. An All-American, Davison was able to neutralize Hutmacher’s size advantage.
After a scoreless first period, Nash gave up an escape before giving up a takedown in the second. In the final period, Hutmacher gave up another takedown when Davison hit a single-leg and elevated it before tripping Hutmacher to the mat.
With the riding-time point, Hutmacher took the loss via 8-0 major decision.