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Huskers Head to Illinois For Regular-Season Finale



The Nebraska wrestling team hits the road for its final dual of the 2021 regular season, taking on Illinois at the State Farm Center in Champaign on Sunday, Feb. 21. The dual starts at 1 p.m. (CT) and will be televised on ESPNU. 

Nebraska (6-1, 6-1 Big Ten) heads to Illinois after picking up two wins at Indiana in its last outing two weeks ago. The Huskers earned their second shutout of the season in a 47-0 win over Indiana and defeated the Spartans, 27-10. Both Mikey Labriola and Eric Schultz won their respective matches to remain undefeated on the season and Alex Thomsen, Chad Red Jr. and Brock Hardy earn pins in three consecutive matches in the Indiana dual to help extend the team’s win streak to five duals. 

Like Nebraska, the Illini (5-2, 5-2 Big Ten) return to the mat this weekend after wrestling in their last dual two weeks ago. Illinois defeated Northwestern, 31-6, in its last outing for the team’s fifth win on the season. The Illini won five straight matches to close to dual while Lucas Byrd (133 pounds) earned his team-high sixth match of the season.  

Next up: The Big Red head to State College, Pa. for the 2021 Big Ten Championships on March 6-7.  

Nebraska’s Projected Starters:

125: #9 Liam Cronin • Sr. • Orange, Calif. -OR- Jeremiah Reno • Fr. • Kansas City, Mo. 

133: Alex Thomsen • So. • Neola, Iowa -OR- Tucker Sjomeling • Jr. • Delano, Minn.

141: #7 Chad Red Jr. • Sr. • Indianapolis, Ind. 

149: Brock Hardy • Fr. • Brigham City, Utah -OR- Ridge Lovett • So. • Post Falls, Idaho

157: Caleb Licking • Sr. • Norfolk, Neb.

165: #18 Peyton Robb • So. • Owatonna, Minn.

174: #2 Mikey Labriola • Jr. • Easton, Pa.

184: #16 Taylor Venz • Sr. • Farmington, Minn. -OR- Nathan Haas • Fr. • Norwalk, Calif.

197: Brandyn Van Tassell • Fr. • Mapleton, Utah

285: #11 Christian Lance • Sr. • Nixa, Mo.

QUICK NOTES

  • After losses against Iowa earlier this season, Liam Cronin, Chad Red Jr., Peyton Robb and Christian Lance have won their last five matches. Brock Hardy has won three of his last four varsity matches. 
  • Nebraska has won 49 of 70 (70%) individual dual meet matches this season 
  • NU has outscored its opponents 187-80 through seven duals this season. 
  • Stat leaders among starters:

SCOUTING ILLINOIS

  • 2020-21 Record: 5-2 (5-2 Big Ten)

    • Losses (2): Iowa (6-36), Minnesota (13-25)
    • Wins (5): Indiana (39-3), Ohio State (18-15), Wisconsin (21-9), Purdue (19-17), Northwestern (31-6)

  • Went undefeated through the first four duals of the season, defeating three ranked opponents in Ohio State, Wisconsin and Purdue. 
  • Jumped from No. 24 to No. 10 in the NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll in the fourth week of the season following the team’s tri-meet wins over the Buckeyes and Badgers. 
  • Most recent win is a 31-6 victory over Northwestern on Feb. 7. The Illini won eight matches on the day.
  • Danny Braunagel (165 pounds) returned to the Illini lineup against the Wildcats, earning an impressive major decision win to improve to 4-0 in duals on the season. 
  • 2018 Big Ten Championships runner-up Mike Carr is 5-2 on the season, coming off a 3-2 decision over Northwestern’s Yahya Thomas. 
  • The Illini return five NCAA Championship qualifiers from last season in Justin Cardani, Dylan Duncan, Danny Braunagel, Zac Braunagel and Luke Luffman. 
  • Coached by Jim Heffernan (Iowa, 1987)Record at Illinois: 106-63-2

SERIES HISTORY

  • The Huskers lead the all-time series against the Spartans, 9-8, with the first meeting dating back to 1940. 
  • The two teams have met six times as Big Ten conference opponents and Nebraska owns a 6-0 record in those meetings. 
  • The teams last met in January of last season as the Huskers defeated the Spartans 25-12 in Lincoln. 

Illinois’ Projected Starters:

125: Justin Cardani RSo. • Champaign, Ill. 

133: #14 Lucas Byrd So. • Cincinnati, Ohio

141: #14 Dylan Duncan RSr. • Winfield, Ill.

149: #10 Mike Carr RSr. • South Fayette, Pa.

157: Johnny Mologousis RJr. • LaGrange, Ill. 

165: #8 Danny Braunagel RSo. • Belleville, Ill. 

174: DJ Shannon So. • Madison, Ill. -OR- Trey Sizemore So. • Cincinnati, Ohio

184: #14 Zac Braunagel RSo. • Belleville, Ill.

197: Matt Wroblewski RJr. • Mt. Prospect, Ill.

285: #10 Luke Luffman So. • Urbana, Ill. 

*Individual rankings according to InterMat

FIRST NCAA COACHES RANKINGS RELEASED

In the first NCAA Division I Coaches Rankings released this season, eight Huskers made the list which is determined by a vote of 14 coaches in each weight class with two head coaches from each conference. Eric Schultz is the top-ranked wrestler at 197 pounds while Mikey Labriola follows close behind at No. 3 at 174 pounds. Rounding out the top-10 for the Huskers are Chad Red Jr. (141 pounds) at No. 5, Liam Cronin (125 pounds) at No. 7 and Christian Lance (285 pounds), at No. 10. Taylor Venz (184 pounds), Peyton Robb (165 pounds) and Brock Hardy (149 pounds) complete the field of Huskers in the rankings at No. 11, No. 18 and No. 20, respectively. 

NCAA TOURNAMENT PRE-ALLOCATIONS ANNOUNCED

On Feb. 11, the NCAA announced the pre-allocations for the 2021 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. The weight class champion in each qualifying tournament will automatically qualify for the national championships. In addition, the Big Ten Conference will have 66 pre-allocation spots available, including seven spots at 125, 133, 141, 157, 165, 174 and 184 pounds; six spots at 149 and 258 pounds; and five spots at 197 pounds. Following the conference tournaments, the Division I Wrestling Committee will meet to select the remaining at-large qualifiers.

Conferences are awarded additional pre-allocations based on the five-year average of pre-allocations earned by the conference for each weight class. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic causing a decrease in overall matches, the NCAA Wrestling Division I Wrestling Committee transitioned to using the five-year historical average to determine pre-allocations for the 2021 championships. 

At-large qualifiers will be announced March 9, while brackets and seeding will be announced at 6 p.m. March 10 on NCAA.com. 

LABRIOLA, SCHULTZ EXTEND DUAL WIN STREAK

After both going undefeated at the Indiana triangular. Mikey Labriola and Eric Schultz remain unbeaten on the year through seven matches. Labriola has earned bonus points in four matches this season with one pin and three major decisions. Labriola leads the team with 88 match points. Schultz’s regular season win streak is up to 11 matches with four wins coming from the and of the 2019-20 campaign. Schultz has earned 28 team points for the Huskers this season and is one of two NU wrestlers to earn a technical fall victory in a dual this season. 

HUSKERS IN THE RANKINGS

Ten Huskers have earned national rankings headed into this weekend’s season finale. Among those ranked, five fall in the top-10. Eric Schultz leads the Huskers with a No. 1 ranking by InterMat and TrackWrestling at 197 pounds. Mikey Labriola comes in at No. 2 at 174 pounds by InterMat and FloWrestling. Chad Red Jr. ranks as high as fifth this week by TrackWrestling. Liam Cronin (125 pounds) remains in the top-10 with a No. 7 ranking by TrackWrestling and FloWrestling. Christian Lance rounds out the Huskers in the top-10 as he ranks as high at No. 7 by Track Wrestling. 

UNDEFEATED AT HOME

The win over Wisconsin on Jan. 31 closed the Huskers’ 2021 regular season home schedule. Nebraska finished 4-0 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center this season, including wins over the Badgers, Minnesota, Northwestern and Maryland. The team finished undefeated at home for the first time since the 2007-08 season during which NU also hosted four duals. 

HUSKERS EARN ROAD WINS IN INDIANA

Nebraska picked up two road wins in a tri-meet at Indiana on Saturday, Feb. 6. The Huskers defeated the Hoosiers 47-0 and Michigan State 27-10 to improve to 6-1 on the season. 

The Huskers’ shutout of the Hoosiers marks the first time since the 2011-12 season that that NU has held two opponents scoreless in a single season. The Huskers previously defeated Maryland, 36-0, this season. 

Mikey Labriola (174 pounds) and Eric Schultz (197 pounds) both went unbeaten on the day to remain undefeated through seven duals this season. Labriola defeated Indiana’s DJ Washington and Michigan State’s Nathan Jimenez while Schultz earned wins over the Hoosiers’ Nick Willham and the Spartans’ No. 5-ranked Cam Caffey.

Liam Cronin, who transferred to Nebraska from Indiana, finished undefeated in his return to Wilkinson Hall, defeating Jacob Moran, 4-2, and the Spartan’s No. 13 ranked Rayvon Foley, 14-13. His win over Foley is his second win over a ranked opponent this season. 

Nebraska recorded bonus points in seven matches against Indiana, helping the team to the most points recorded in a dual since the Huskers defeated Nebraska-Kearney 47- -1 to open last season.

The Huskers dominated the Hoosiers in their first dual of the day, going unbeaten in all ten matches and earning bonus points in seven. 

 Nebraska won three consecutive matches by fall against Indiana, beginning with Alex Thomsen in the 133-pound match. Thomsen was behind 10-0 in the second period, but would not let that hold him back, earning the pin with seven seconds left in the second period. Chad Red Jr. (141 pounds) took just one minute to pin Cayden Rooks and earn his 20th career pin. Brock Hardy followed with his first pin of his Husker career, earning the fall over Jonathan Moran in 0:51. 

Caleb Licking picked up his second win of the season, shutting out Matt Ortiz in a 6-0 decision at 157 pounds, and Nathan Haas (184 pounds) earned his second varsity win as a Husker in a 12-3 major decision over Drayton Harris.

Peyton Robb (165 pounds) added more bonus points for the Huskers with a 10-2 major decision over Nick South. 

The 197-pound and heavyweight matches were decided by injury default with Eric Schultz and Christian Lance recording two more wins for Nebraska to close the dual. 

Against Michigan State, other notable wins for the Huskers came from Tucker Sjomeling and Ridge Lovett. Sjomeling earned his first varsity dual win of the season in a 10-4 decision over Jordan Hamdan. Lovett wrestled in his first varsity dual on the year, picking up a 13-3 major decision over Peyton Omania at 149 pounds. 

Chad Red Jr., Peyton Robb, and Christian Lance were three of six Huskers who finished 2-0 on the day. Lance added bonus points in the Huskers’ final match of the day, defeating Christian Rebottaro. 12-4. Red Jr. earned his sixth win of the season in a 6-1 decision over Jaden Eriquez and Robb picked up his fourth consecutive dual win in a 10-3 decision over Caleb Fish. 

Jevon Parrish earned his first start of the year, but ultimately fell to Chase Saldate, 8-0. 

Eight Huskers wrestled in extra matches on Saturday as Nebraska finished 4-9 in those bouts. Cale Davidson went 2-0 on the day, including a pin over Indiana’s Andrew Irick. Brandyn Van Tassell (184 pounds) won by technical fall and Brock Hardy (149 pounds) also picked up wins for the Huskers.

NEBRASKA TAKES DOWN WISCONSIN

The Nebraska wrestling team ended its 2021 home slate in dramatic fashion, winning the final two matches against Wisconsin to earn a 21-15 win on Sunday, Jan. 31 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. 

After going back-and-forth with the Badgers through the first four matches of the dual, Nebraska picked up much needed bonus points in the 165-pound match. Peyton Robb pinned Joshua Otto in 1:32 to put the Huskers within two of Wisconsin headed into the final matches of the dual.  

Mikey Labriola (174 pounds) followed with another win for Nebraska, defeating Jared Krattiger in a 10-4 decision to put NU back in the lead. 

After a close loss in the 184-pound match, Eric Schultz earned 30 match points for a technical fall win over Andrew Salemme, giving Nebraska a 18-15 advantage headed into the final match of the day. 

Christian Lance secured the victory for the Huskers with a 4-2 sudden victory decision over then-ranked No. 7 Trent Hillger. 

HUSKERS VICTORIOUS IN NEBRASKA TRIANGULAR

Seven Huskers finished undefeated on the day as the Nebraska wrestling team earned wins over Northwestern and Maryland on Jan. 23 at the Bob Devany Sport Center. 

In the first dual of the day, Nebraska topped the Wildcats 26-10. Earning bonus points for the Huskers were Liam Cronin (125), Mikey Labriola (174), Christian Lance (HWT) and Taylor Venz (184). Peyton Robb (165) and Lance picked up their first wins of the season in their respective matches. 

The Huskers won every bout against Maryland, taking the dual 36-0. Alex Thomsen (133) and Caleb Licking (157) both earned their first wins of the season while Cronin and Lance earned their first victories by fall in varsity matches on the year. 

HUSKERS FALL TO TOP-RANKED HAWKEYES 

Mikey Labriola and Eric Schultz won their individual matches for the Huskers, but the No. 6 Nebraska wrestling team ultimately fell to No. 1 Iowa, 6-31, on Friday, Jan. 15 in Iowa City, Iowa. 

No. 4 Labriola put the Huskers (1-1, 1-1 Big Ten) on the board, earning a 7-4 decision over Patrick Kennedy in the 174-pound match. The junior landed his first shot, taking an early 2-0 lead that he would not surrender for the remainder of the match. Labriola scored three takedowns and an escape to pick up his second win of the season and second win over Iowa for his career. 

No. 2 Schultz earned himself a top-10 win and added to the Huskers’ team total with a 3-2 decision over No. 4 Jacob Warner. In his second win over Warner in as many years, Schultz scored the lone takedown late in the third period to come away victorious in the 197-pound match.

Prior to the dual, the teams wrestled six extra matches. Nebraska finished 5-1 in the extra bouts, with Tucker Sjomeling, Ridge Lovett, Jevon Parrish, Silas Allred and Cale Davidson picking up victories.

NEBRASKA TOPS MINNESOTA IN 2021 OPENER

The Nebraska wrestling team kicked off the 2020-21 season on a high note, defeating then-ranked No. 12 Minnesota 22-14 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Jan. 8. The Huskers wrestled in two top-20 matchups and won six bouts on their way to the first victory of the season.  

 Liam Cronin started the night with a win for the Huskers at 125 pounds, defeating Patrick McKee by decision, 8-1. Cronin earned the upset victory in his first dual for Nebraska. 

 Minnesota’s Boo Dryden put the Golden Gophers on the board, defeating Alex Thomsen in a 9-2 decision at 133 pounds. 

 Nebraska won the next two matches as Chad Red Jr. (141 pounds) opened his senior season with a win over Marcos Polanco by decision, 4-1. Brock Hardy (149 pounds) started his Husker career off with a 9-2 decision win  over Michael Blockhus. 

Minnesota took the next two matches as Brayton Lee defeated Caleb Licking in a 10-5 decision at 157 pounds and Andrew Sparks won the 165 pound match against Peyton Robb by 7-6 decision. 

 Mikey Labriola (174 pounds) picked up the team’s first pin of the season, defeating Jake Allar by fall in 6:17. 

 Rounding out the group of newcomers in the lineup for Nebraska, Nathan Haas won the 184-pound match against Owen Webster by decision, 5-2. 

 Eric Schultz added bonus points for the Huskers, defeating Garret Joles at 197 pounds by major decision, 14-3. 

Closing out the night was a top-20 matchup as Minnesota’s top-ranked Gable Steveson wrestled Christian Lance at heavyweight. Lance ultimately fell to Steveson by 14-3 major decision. 

 





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