The Husker wrestling team defeated the Michigan Wolverines 25-15 on senior night at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Friday night.
The seniors honored in the pregame ceremony were Zak Hensley, Collin Purinton, Isaiah White and David Jensen, along with graduating juniors Johnny Blankenship and Kyle Ruettiger.
The dual started in the 157-pound weight class where Nebraska redshirt freshman Peyton Robb lost to redshirt freshman Will Lewan by a decision of 4-3, giving the Wolverines the early 3-0 lead.
The Huskers got their first senior on the mat when No. 5 Isaiah White took on junior Tyler Meisinger in the 165-pound weight class. White wrestled well and jumped out to a 5-1 lead after the first period and expanded his lead to 8-2 after two periods. White won the match by a decision of 11-4, tying the match at 3-3.
In the 174-pound weight class, No. 6 sophomore Mikey Labriola went up against redshirt freshman Max Maylor. Labriola came out aggressive, taking a 7-3 lead after the period and continued his fast-paced approach throughout the match. The onslaught mercifully ended as Labriola won by a tech. fall of 23-8, as his victory helped the Huskers take their first lead of the dual, 8-3.
Labriola lost his singlet this week and decided to wear his roommate and teammate Kyle Ruettiger’s singlet to honor him on Senior Night.
“He’s wanted me to wear it, and nobody had any idea I was going to do it,” Labriola continued, “He’s kind of like a life mentor for me, this whole class has meant a lot.”
Looking to capitalize on the momentum of the tech fall, junior Taylor Venz matched up against sophomore Jelani Embree in the 184-pound weight. After a tightly fought first period, Venz led 4-2, then in the second period Venz extended his lead to 12-4 thanks to a 4-point near fall and two takedowns. Venz won the match by a major decision of 16-6, giving the Huskers a 12-3 advantage.
In the 197-pound weight class, No. 5 junior Eric Schultz defeated senior Jackson Striggow by a decision of 6-3, extending Nebraska’s lead to 15-3.
The Huskers had their second senior of the night wrestle in the heavyweight class when David Jensen was pinned by No. 2 sophomore Mason Parris, cutting the Husker lead in half, 15-9.
Trying to help the Huskers maintain their lead, redshirt freshman Alex Thomsen went up against No. 19 sophomore Jack Medley. Despite keeping it close at 2-1 after two periods, Thomsen lost the match by a decision of 6-1, as Michigan had once again halved the Huskers lead, 15-12.
With the Huskers on their heels, freshman Ridge Lovett had to step up and face senior Austin Assad. Lovett jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the first period with a takedown and 4-point near fall. Lovett continued to fight hard, earning a huge victory by a major decision of 11-0, giving the Huskers a more cushioned 19-12 lead.
“I thought my team in high school was close, but I’ve never been closer to guys before, they mean a lot to me,” Lovett said.
In the crucial penultimate match of the dual, No. 8 junior Chad Red Jr. pinned Cole Mattin in less than a minute, giving the Huskers a 25-12 lead. Red Jr. is in a dominant stretch, as this was his third pin in his last four matches.
“It’s just that time of year, I’m just starting to heat up and people are still underestimating me, they better watch out,” Red Jr. said.
The third and final Huskers senior to take the mat for the Huskers was No. 16 senior Collin Purinton, who was defeated by No. 10 junior Kanen Storr by a decision of 8-5. However, it wasn’t enough as the Huskers won the dual by a score of 25-15.
Next up for the Huskers, they will visit the No. 18 Minnesota Golden Gophers on Friday in their regular season finale.