With it’s Sunday afternoon 28-9 win over Illinois, Nebraska has now won five straight duals since opening Big Ten play with a 22-10 loss to #2 Iowa. With an incredibly tough trio of duals left before postseason play, the Huskers look to be peaking at the right time.
The 6th-ranked Huskers won seven of 10 matches in winning the dual 28-9 at home with four bonus-point wins.
The Huskers rested top-ranked Ridge Lovett at 149 pounds and suffered an upset at 133, but they saw strong performances turned in by their top guys, especially at the upper weights.
The Huskers improve to 10-1 on the year with their win over the Illini. Now, they’ll turn their attention to the end of their dual schedule against #12 Michigan (who just put a beat down on Iowa on Friday night), #1 Penn State and #24 Arizona State.
*FloWrestling individual rankings used
Nebraska’s #9 Caleb Smith got back in the win column as he downed Illinois’ Justin Cardani to spark a big Husker win.
Smith collected a first-period takedown before riding out the entire second period. In the third, Smith started with an early escape before hitting a double-leg from space to go up 8-1. He wasn’t able to score a late takedown for bonus points but came out with a 9-2 win with the riding-time point.
Smith improves to 16-5 on the year.
Team Score: Nebraska 3, Illinois 0
After going 4-0 to start his Big Ten dual slate, Nebraska’s #26 Jacob Van Dee couldn’t survive the late surge from Illinois’ Tony Madrigal.
The three-time NCAA qualifier who transferred in from Oklahoma, Madrigal gave up the opening takedown to Van Dee. After that, it was all Madrigal as he scored an escape before riding out Van Dee for the full second period.
In the third, Van Dee gave up a takedown with 36 seconds left. Needing an escape to force overtime, Van Dee instead was put on his back by Madrigal for four near-fall points, dropping the 8-3 decision.
With the loss, Van Dee drops to 15-6 on the year with some big-time matchups on deck.
Team Score: Nebraska 3, Illinois 3
Facing Illinois’ #22 Danny Pucino, Nebraska’s #7 Brock Hardy was dominant from the start.
Hardy scored two first-period takedowns while racking up 1:36 in riding time to go up 6-2. In the second, Hardy scored a quick escape before notching two more takedowns.
Pucino didn’t survive the second takedown of the period, getting locked in a cradle and put on his back off some fantastic leg defense by Hardy, collecting a pin with 20 seconds left in the second.
With the win, Hardy is 13-5 with four wins via pinfall.
During intermission, Hardy was presented with his ring for his bronze medal performance at the U23 World Championships this past fall.
Brother Hardy showing off the hardware.@theebrockhardy was presented with his 2023 U23 World Champion team ring during today's intermission. His bronze medal performance was crucial in @USAWrestling's path to the team title. pic.twitter.com/sQrfUmuAAq— Nebraska Wrestling (@HuskerWrestling) February 4, 2024
Team Score: Nebraska 9, Illinois 3
In a battle between backups, Nebraska’s Blake Cushing took on Illinois’ Jake Harrier. Cushing has also been the backup at 141, going 2-1 in duals this year while spelling Hardy. This week, he bumped up to 149 to give Lovett a rest.
After a scoreless first period, Cushing earned a quick escape in the second. Not only did Cushing put on some good leg defense, he also almost took Harrier down with an inside trip late in the second but the buzzer saved the Illinois junior.
In the third, Cushing gave up a fast escape and held off Harrier’s late burst with some more impressive leg defense. In sudden victory, Cushing gave up the takedown to Harrier, dropping the match 4-1. He’s now 13-4 on the year.
Team Score: Nebraska 9, Illinois 6
Making his return to the mat after losing four straight matches and taking off last weekend from competition, Nebraska’s #13 Peyton Robb took on Illinois’ Joe Roberts.
Robb waisted no time, dumping Roberts with a fireman’s carry in the first before tilting him for four near-fall points. He rode out the period, taking a 7-0 lead and 2:39 riding time into the second.
P-Robb with a huge first period.— Nebraska Wrestling (@HuskerWrestling) February 4, 2024
He leads 7-0 after the first and has 2:39 of riding time. pic.twitter.com/zSV5cxfRCh
Robb started the second period with a reversal before riding the period out. In the third, Robb gave up an escape and was largely neutralized when he attacked. With the riding-time point, Robb won the match via 10-1 major decision, improving to 15-4 on the year.
Team Score: Nebraska 13, Illinois 6
Nebraska’s #16 Antrell Taylor had to go to overtime with Illinois’ #32 Chris Moore before getting back in the win column Sunday at the Devaney Center.
After a scoreless first period, Taylor and Moore traded escapes in the second and third before heading to sudden victory. In overtime, Taylor nearly took Moore down with a body lock but was fended off. Taylor shook off the re-attack, scoring off a re-attack of his own for the 4-1 decision win. Nebraska did lose a team point though when Taylor spiked his headgear in celebration.
ICE IN HIS VEINS— Nebraska Wrestling (@HuskerWrestling) February 4, 2024
165 | Antrell gets the win in OT! pic.twitter.com/cYp3x0fZoy
A redshirt freshman from Millard South, Taylor improves to 15-4 on the year.
Team Score: Nebraska 15, Illinois 6
In the only match where Nebraska wasn’t favored, #22 Bubba Wilson was right there with #7 Edmond Ruth of Illinois right up until the end.
After a scorelss first period, Ruth struck first in the second with an escape. Wilson had choice to start the third and chose neutral rather than down, meaning he needed a takedown. Wilson was able to get in deep on Ruth’s legs but was held off. Late in the period, Wilson attempted a desperation headlock, but Ruth was able to slip out and fall on him for the late takedown, downing Wilson 4-0.
With the loss, Wilson is now 12-8 on the year.
Team Score: Nebraska 15, Illinois 9
As has been the case most of the season, the Huskers got a big win from #3 Lenny Pinto, helping ice the dual over Illinois’ #30 Dylan Connell.
After giving up the opening takedown, Pinto went to work. He collected a reversal in the first period before getting another to start the second. After giving up an escape, Pinto got another takedown on a re-attack before riding the second period out.
After a quick escape by Connell to start the third, Pinto was able to score two more takedowns, the last coming late with four more near-fall points tacked on at the end. With the late flurry, Pinto earned the 18-5 major decision win.
With the win, Pinto has won four straight and is now 16-3 on the year.
Team Score: Nebraska 19, Illinois 9
Much like Pinto, Nebraska’s #13 Silas Allred has been solid lately, winning his last five matches. In his last four matches, he’s recorded three techs and a pin.
Facing Illinois’ Chase Waggoner, Allred got the first takedown but gave one up shortly after. The Husker sophomore scored a reversal to go up 5-4 before riding out the period, collecting 1:27 in riding time.
In the second, Allred scored a quick takedown before locking up the cradle for the second pinfall win of the day for Nebraska.
With the win, Allred is now 18-4 on the year.
Team Score: Nebraska 25, Illinois 9
Facing a vastly undersized Peter Marinopoulos of Illinois, Nebraska’s Nash Hutmacher went through another marathon match before gutting out another Big Ten win.
In the first period, Hutmacher forced a quick stalling call on Marinopoulos before feeding him some hips and going behind for a takedown (see below). After scoring a point on another stalling call on Marinopoulos, Hutmacher gave up a takedown on a re-attack. A quick escape gave Hutmacher a 5-4 lead going into the second.
Hutmacher started the second with a quick escape before scoring on another Marinopoulos stalling call. Marinopoulos then scored on a takedown on the edge, but an escape kept the Polar Bear ahead 8-7 going into the third.
Marinopoulos tied things with a quick escape in the third, but Hutmacher scored a final takedown on a throw-by before a couple mat returns. A late escape by Marinopoulos gave Hutmacher a 12-9 decision win with the riding-time point.
Hutmacher improves to 4-1 on the year with the win.