The Nebraska wrestling team finished second at the Big Ten Wrestling Championships over the weekend in Piscataway, New Jersey. All 10 of the team’s wrestlers qualified for the NCAA Championships in Minneapolis, the first time the whole team has qualified since 2016.
The Huskers were led by an impressive showing from junior Eric Schultz, who finished in second place in the 197-pound weight class. This, alongside six Huskers finishing in third place in their weight classes, propelled them to a second place team finish. This was the Huskers’ best conference championships finish since joining the Big Ten, as their previous best was a fourth-place showing in 2017 and 2018.
The Huskers finished in second with 132 team points, behind first-place Iowa, who had 157.5, and ahead of third-place Ohio State with 112 points and fourth-place Penn State with 107 points.
In the 125-pound weight class, redshirt freshman Alex Thomsen competed for the Huskers as a 10-seed. In the first round, he defeated Liam Cronin of Indiana 17-12. Then, in the quarterfinals, he matched up against the No. 1 seed, Purdue’s Devin Schroder, who defeated Thomsen by tech fall, 15-0. Thomsen would go on to finish in sixth place.
True freshman Ridge Lovett was the 6-seed for the Huskers in the 133-pound weight class. In the first round of action he pinned Boo Dryden of Minnesota in just 33 seconds. He fell to Austin DeSanto of Iowa by a decision of 1-0 in the quarterfinals and went on to finish in seventh place.
In the 141-pound weight class junior Chad Red Jr. defeated Eddie Bolivar of Indiana by a major decision of 12-2 in the first round. Then in the quarterfinals, he defeated Wisconsin’s Tristan Moran by a decision of 10-4. In the semifinal round, he matched up against long-time rival Nick Lee of Penn State, who defeated Red Jr. by a decision of 7-5. In the consolation semifinals he defeated Iowa’s Max Murin to help secure a third-place finish.
Senior Collin Purinton was the 7-seed for the Huskers in the 149-pound weight class. He lost in the quarterfinals but, bounced back by winning four consecutive consolation matches to finish in third place.
In the 157-pound weight class, redshirt freshman Peyton Robb competed as a 7-seed for the Huskers. In the first round, Robb defeated Jahi Jones of Maryland by a major decision of 14-3. Robb won his quarterfinal match before going on to lose in the semifinal round by a decision of 3-2 to Purdue’s Kendall Coleman. Robb then defeated Illinois’ Eric Barone by a decision of 5-4 to secure a third-place finish.
Senior Isaiah White was tied for the second-highest seeded Nebraska wrestler at No. 4 in the 165-pound weight class. White won his first round and quarterfinal matches, before losing to Penn State’s Vincenzo Joseph in the semifinals by a decision of 6-3. White then defeated Illinois’ Danny Braunagel in the consolation semifinal to finish in third place in the 165-pound weight class.
Sophomore Mikey Labriola earned a pin in 33 seconds during his first-round match at 174 pounds, but he was defeated in the quarterfinal match by Minneosta’s Devin Skatzka. Labriola dominated after that, winning the second consolation round match by tech fall and the third consolation round match by a major decision as he finished in sixth place
Junior Taylor Venz won his first two matches handily before getting pinned by Aaron Brooks of Penn State four minutes into the 184-pound semifinal match. Venz went on to defeat Ohio State’s Rocky Jordan in the consolation semifinals to finish in third place.
Junior Eric Schultz was a No. 2 seed for the Huskers at 197 pounds and was the only Husker wrestler to receive a first-round bye. Schultz pinned Minnesota’s Hunter Ritter just before the end of the first period. After winning in the semifinals, Schultz became the only Husker to make a championship bout. He faced the No. 1 seed Kollin Moore, with Moore winning a hard-fought match by a decision of 4-1.
Senior David Jensen was the 5-seed in the heavyweight class for the Huskers. He won his first-round match, but then lost in the quarterfinal match. He fought back in the later consolation rounds and ultimately finished in fifth place.
Next up for the Huskers are the NCAA Wrestling Championships, which will take place on March 19-21 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.