On Sunday, the Nebraska wrestling team and men’s gymnastics team took part in the N' Rumble event at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. The Nebraska wrestling team faced the Michigan State Spartans, while the men’s gymnastics team went up against the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The Husker wrestling team came off a heartbreaking loss to No. 3 Penn State on Friday at the Devaney Center. They lost 20-18 and went into the final bout of the night with a chance to pull off the upset. The team had to refocus less than 48 hours after the crushing loss and take on a tough Spartans squad, but the Huskers took down the Spartans in an impressive and dominant 25-12 victory.
Due to the unusual nature of the Tumble N' Rumble format, the 149-pound weight class began the dual, with senior Collin Purinton taking on redshirt junior Alex Hrisopoulos. After two highly contested periods, the match was knotted at 2-2. Purinton started out the third period with an escape, giving him a 3-2 advantage and he carried that momentum into a victory by a decision of 3-2, giving the Huskers a 3-0 lead early in the dual.
Next up was the 157-pound weight class featuring redshirt freshman Peyton Robb matching up against redshirt junior Jake Tucker. After an eventful first period that included multiple takedowns and a coaches challenge, the score was 2-2. Tucker out-wrestled Robb in the final two periods taking a 5-4 advantage, but since Robb led in riding time by more than a minute, he was awarded an additional point, tying the match at 5-5. In the sudden victory period, Tucker got a takedown of Robb, winning 7-5, tying the dual at 3-3.
At 165-pounds, instead of the usual appearance by senior All-American Isaiah White, who was nursing a knee injury he suffered a few days prior, junior Dalton Peters stepped in to take on redshirt junior Drew Hughes instead. With a strong takedown, Peters led after the first period, 2-0. Then, to start the second period, Peters elected to start on bottom where he never escaped and was pinned by Hughes, giving the Spartans a 9-3 lead.
“Dalton wrestled really well, that guy [Hughes] is really good, he’s their best at leg riding as he turned us over in tough positions,” head coach Mark Manning said.
Next up in the dual was the 174-pound weight class which pitted sophomore All-American Mikey Labriola against redshirt freshman Layne Malczewski. Labriola dominated the first two periods taking a commanding 12-4 lead over Malczewski. Labriola continued his massive performance into the third period ultimately winning by a major decision of 17-6, cutting the Spartans’ lead to 9-7.
Trying to keep the momentum established by Labriola, junior All-American Taylor Venz took on redshirt sophomore Cameron Caffey at 184-pounds. Venz had a takedown early in the first period, giving Venz a 2-1 lead. After two periods, Venz held a comfortable 5-1 lead over Caffey, but after an impressive third period, Caffey made a comeback over the eighth-ranked Venz, winning by a decision 8-6.
The Huskers looked to bounce back in the 197-pound weight class when junior Eric Schultz matched up against redshirt junior Nick May. In a tightly contested match, Schultz pulled out the close victory by a decision of 3-2, bringing the Huskers within two of the Spartans, 12-10.
The Huskers once again were without one of their usual starters, this time in the heavyweight class. Senior David Jensen took the place of senior Christian Lance, as Jensen was facing off with redshirt junior Christian Rebottaro. After a slow, sluggish start for both wrestlers, Jensen finally got the first takedown of the match with seven seconds remaining in the second period, giving him a 3-0 lead. Jensen put away Rebottaro, winning by a decision of 6-0 and helping the Huskers regain a slim one point lead, 13-12.
“At the heavyweight we were just trying to shuffle a little bit, we just have two really good heavyweights and we’re just trying to see who is going to be stronger,” Manning said.
Then, in the match that would have usually started the dual, in the 125-pound weight class bout, redshirt freshman Alex Thomsen took on redshirt senior Logan Griffin. After two tightly contested and well-wrestled periods, the match was tied at 2-2 heading into the decisive third period. With a great performance in the third period, Thomsen pulled away and won the match by a decision of 5-2, allowing the Huskers to extend their lead over the Spartans to four, 16-12.
“Alex Thomsen really broke the door down today, they’re a really good leg riding team, so Alex reversed the guy. A lot of really good things there, so for the most part really pretty good,” Manning said.
Trying to put away the victory in the dual for the Huskers, freshman Ridge Lovett went up against redshirt senior Garrett Pepple in the 133-pound weight class bout. After two hard fought periods, Lovett held a slim 2-0 advantage over Pepple, thanks to a takedown early in the first period. After finishing the job in the third period, Lovett came away with a win over Pepple by a decision of 5-0, giving the Huskers an insurmountable 19-12 lead heading into the final match of the day.
Having the dual all but won already, the 141-pound weight class bout seemed irrelevant, but someone forgot to tell Chad Red Jr. when he took on redshirt junior Matt Santos. Red Jr. put on a clinic getting a takedown in 60 seconds, then 10 seconds later, Red Jr. made a masterful pin of Santos ending the match in just 70 seconds and finalizing the victory for the Huskers by a score of 25-12.
“I was frustrated when I found out that I was going last today, I decided that I was going to be in attack mode from the start and end my match as quickly as possible,” Red Jr. said.
With the victory against Michigan State, the Huskers now have their first Big Ten Conference win of the season after starting the conference season with back-to-back-to-back losses at Wisconsin, at Iowa and against Penn State. The clear theme of this dual for the Huskers was finishing the job and wrestling for all three periods. Many of the matches on the day had the Huskers either trailing or tied heading into the final period, but they pulled through and managed to pull out enough victories to take down the Spartans both on the mat and the scoreboard.
“I don’t care about getting the first (Big Ten Conference) win, I care about individual guys taking care of themselves and if we’re doing that our team is going to win,” Manning said.
Next up for the Huskers is another home Big Ten Conference matchup, this time against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Feb. 2.