The Nebraska wrestling team will compete in the Big Ten Tournament Championships on March 7 and 8 at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, New Jersey.
Nebraska will bring a veteran team to the tournament, with only one freshman (Ridge Lovett) and two redshirt freshmen (Alex Thomsen and Peyton Robb) wrestling for the Huskers.
“Regardless of experience we prepare every guy the same, they've been wrestling in front of big crowds all year and when it comes time they’ll be ready,” head coach Mark Manning said.
The Huskers finished the regular season 11-3 overall, with their only losses coming to Wisconsin, Iowa and Penn State, who were nationally ranked eighth, first and second at the time, respectively.
The No. 4 Huskers have a number of impressive wins on their resume, including non-conference wins against No. 17 Northern Iowa and Wyoming. In conference play, the Huskers notched strong wins against No. 3 Ohio State and No. 22 Michigan at home and No. 14 Purdue and No. 13 Minnesota on the road.
“Whatever you did during the season was great, but once you get to March, March is all that matters, March is where you shine,” Manning said.
The Huskers are going into the tournament with plenty of momentum from winning their last six duals, but are considered an underdog in the conference tournament. The Huskers have only one wrestler who is a top-3 seed in his weight class, junior Eric Schultz, who is the No. 2 seed in the 197-pound weight class.
Preseason favorites such as junior Chad Red Jr. (141) and senior Isaiah White (165) are both No. 4 seeds in the conference tournament.
“We’ve just got to prove everyone wrong, if we are our best selves when we wrestle, then we can beat anyone,” Manning said.
Nebraska will have to fight its way through the toughest, deepest conference in college wrestling. The Big Ten is home to No. 1 Iowa, No. 2 Penn State, No. 5 Ohio State and many other great squads.
The Huskers are preparing for the tournament with short, but intense practices, alongside more scouting and film sessions than usual.
“My staff and I want to give every wrestler the chance to do their best and to compete at the highest level,” Manning said.
The team’s goal is to win the tournament and take even more success and momentum into the NCAA tournament.
“To be the best versions of ourselves we need to do one simple thing; don’t compete with fear, compete with freedom,” Manning said.