On Thursday night the Husker wrestling team got its first action of the season at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, in a quad-dual featuring Hastings College, the University of Nebraska at Kearney and Chadron State College. The event, the Nebraska Duals, are preseason exhibition wrestling matches in which the Huskers faced off against only Nebraska-Kearney and Chadron State.
The Huskers began their season well as they were rarely challenged in their opening duals of the year. While these duals will not count towards the Huskers’ record on the season, it will help to understand which wrestlers might end up competing at certain weight classes and also assist in assessing the team’s current status and skill level. Despite being an exhibition, the Huskers were competitive, especially non-starters who got a chance at making an appearance in uniform for the Huskers.
The first dual of the evening for the Huskers was against Chadron State.
In the first match of the first dual, at 125 pounds for the Huskers, redshirt freshman Alex Thomsen pinned Tate Stoddard in 58 seconds, earning six team points for the Huskers. It was a powerful performance by Thomsen that set the tone for the Huskers in the dual.
At 133 pounds for the Huskers, senior Zak Hensley defeated Brandon Kile by a decision of 9-4, earning the Huskers three team points.
An instrumental part of the Huskers success last season, All-American Chad Red Jr. did not wrestle at 141 pounds. Instead, sophomore Christian Miller defeated Joseph Ritzen by a decision of 12-7, earning three team points for the Huskers.
At 149 pounds for the Huskers, junior Caleb Licking defeated Caleb Haskell by a decision of 7-1, earning the Huskers one team point.
In a tough, highly contested match, at 157 pounds for the Huskers, junior Johnny Blankenship defeated Chase Clasen by a decision of 7-4, earning three team points for the Huskers.
At 165 pounds for the Huskers, junior Dalton Peters lost in a hard fought match to Tate Allison by a decision of 3-1, earning three team points for the Eagles. These were the only three team points surrendered by the Huskers during the quad-dual all evening.
At 174 pounds for the Huskers, sophomore All-American Mikey Labriola pinned Gavin Eason in 13 seconds, earning six team points for the Huskers. This was the fastest pin of the night for the Huskers.
At 184 pounds for the Huskers, sophomore Colton Wolfe defeated Terry Winstead after scoring a takedown in overtime winning by a decision of 4-2, earning the Huskers three team points. It was the only match of the evening that went into an overtime period. For the Huskers, All-American Taylor Venz, the regular starter at 184 pounds did not wrestle this match.
At 197 pounds for the Huskers, junior Eric Schultz defeated Wade French by a technical decision 26-10, which included 12 takedowns, one escape and one point awarded for riding time. This match victory earned five team points for the Huskers.
In the final match of the first dual at 285 pounds for the Huskers, senior Christian Lance defeated Mason Watt by a technical decision 25-9, which included 10 takedowns, earning five team points for the Huskers.
The Huskers defeated the Eagles by a final score of 37-3. In the Huskers first action of the season, while being dominant against a weaker opponent, the Huskers did look sluggish at times. However, as the meet was an exhibition the Huskers were not at full power or focus on the evening.
In the second dual of the quad, the Huskers faced the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers.
In the first match of the second dual, at 125 pounds for the Huskers, Thomsen defeated Josh Portillo by a major decision of 16-6, which included six takedowns, three back points and one point awarded for riding time. This match victory earned four team points for the Huskers. Thomsen was one of only three Huskers to wrestle in both duals as he looked to keep hold of the 125 pounds starting spot.
At 133 pounds for the Huskers, Hensley defeated Scott Fulsos in an explosion match by a decision of 6-0. Hensley earned two cautions for false starts in the first period, but still earned the Huskers three team points. Hensley, a fifth-year senior was given both starts over promising youngsters like freshman Ridge Lovett and sophomore Jevon Parrish.
After not wrestling in the first meet of the dual, Red Jr. took the mat for the Huskers at 141 pounds defeating Wesley Dawkins by a decision of 10-7, earning one team point for the Huskers. Red Jr. was nearly pinned in the first period, but fought hard to avoid the early defeat, ultimately making a comeback in the third period to take the victory.
At 149 pounds for the Huskers, senior Collin Purinton defeated Teontae Wilson by a technical decision of 19-3, which included five takedowns and six back points, earning the Huskers five team points. Purinton got a chance to showcase his skills and attempt to assert himself as the clear choice in the crowded 149-pound weight class for the Huskers.
At 157 pounds for the Huskers, redshirt freshman Peyton Robb defeated Jacob Wasser by injury default in the first period. The only injury default of the quad-dual earned six team points for the Huskers.
At 165 pounds for the Huskers, senior Isaiah White defeated Matt Malcom in a heated match by a decision of 6-4, which had both wrestlers earning multiple stalling calls and exchanging words after the match. This victory earned the Huskers three team points and deducted one point from UNK because of unsportsmanlike conduct.
At 174 pounds for the Huskers, Labriola pinned Talon Seitz in two minutes and nine seconds, earning six team points for the Huskers. Labriola pinned both of his opponents on the evening in a combined two minutes and 24 seconds.
After not wrestling in the first meet of the dual at 184 pounds for the Huskers, Venz pinned Terrell Garraway in three minutes and twenty-four seconds, earning the Huskers six team points.
At 197 pounds for the Huskers, Schultz defeated Jace Lacaille by a technical decision of 27-11, which included 12 takedowns, one reversal and was awarded one point for riding time. This victory earned five team points for the Huskers.
In the final match of the second meet, at 285 pounds for the Huskers, senior David Jensen pinned Herrington in two minutes and fifty-eight seconds, earning the Huskers six team points.
The Huskers defeated the Lopers by a final score of 47--1. Once the Huskers got into a rhythm as a team, they were firing on all cylinders as they had an extremely dominant performance over a UNK team that rarely stood a chance in any match.
Next up for the Huskers is a tournament at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York, which includes No. 8 Arizona State, No. 10 Lehigh, No. 20 Oklahoma, No. 22 Lock Haven and No. 25 Old Dominion among other teams.