The No. 6 Nebraska wrestling team is set for its first road trip of the season, meeting top-ranked Iowa on Friday in Iowa City. The matchup starts at 8:10 p.m. (CT) and will be televised nationally on BTN.
The Huskers (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten) enter the matchup following a win in last week’s season opener against Minnesota. Six Huskers won their matches, helping the team to a 22-14 win over the Golden Gophers. Liam Cronin (125), Brock Hardy (149) and Nathan Haas (184) won their first matches as Huskers while Mikey Labriola (174) and Eric Schultz (197) earned bonus points for Nebraska.
The Hawkeyes wrestle in their first dual of the abbreviated 2021 campaign on Friday. Iowa, who finished last season as the 2020 Big Ten Champions, returns nine All-Americans to the lineup this year. The team finished undefeated through 13 duals last season, including a 26-6 victory over Nebraska in Iowa City.
This weekend’s action features 17 ranked wrestlers scheduled to compete between the teams, including the potential for top-10 matchups at 141, 174 and 197 pounds.
Up Next: Following Friday’s road match, the Huskers return home to host a triangular dual with Northwestern and Maryland at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Saturday, Jan. 31.
Nebraska’s Projected Lineup
125: #17 Liam Cronin • Sr. • Orange, Calif. (1-0)
133: Alex Thomsen • So. • Neola, Iowa (0-1) -OR- Tucker Sjomeling • Jr. • Delano, Minn. (0-1)
141: #7 Chad Red Jr. • Sr. • Indianapolis, Ind. (1-0) -OR- Ridge Lovett • So. • Post Falls, Idaho (0-0)
149: #20 Brock Hardy • Fr. • Brigham City, Utah (1-0) -OR- Jevon Parrish • So. • Olathe, Kan. (0-1)
157: Caleb Licking • Sr. • Norfolk, Neb. (0-1)
165: #18 Peyton Robb • So. • Owatonna, Minn. (0-1) -OR- Isaiah Alford • RFr. • Lincoln, Neb. (0-0)
174: #4 Mikey Labriola • Jr. • Easton, Pa. (1-0)
184: #7 Taylor Venz • Sr. • Farmington, Minn. (0-0)
197: #2 Eric Schultz • Sr. • Tinley Park, Ill. (1-0) -OR- Silas Allred • Fr. • Anderson, Ind. (0-1)
285: #16 Christian Lance • Sr. • Nixa, Mo. (0-1) -OR- Cale Davidson • Jr. • Wichita, Kan. (0-0)
*InterMat rankings used
SCOUTING THE HAWKEYES
Nebraska faces one of its toughest opponent of the season this weekend in the top-ranked Hawkeyes. The reigning 2020 Big Ten Champion Hawkeyes return 19 letterwinners to the roster this season, including nine of their NCAA qualifiers from last season. Big Ten Wrestler of the Year Spencer Lee returns to the lineup at 125 pounds for the Hawkeyes and is undefeated in Big Ten duals headed into his senior season.
Iowa’s Projected Lineup*
125: #1 Spencer Lee Sr. • Murrysville, Pa. (0-0) -OR- Aaron Cashman So. • Spring Park, Minn. (0-0)
133: #5 Austin DeSanto Sr. • Exeter, Pa.(0-0)
141: #1 Jaydin Eierman Sr. • Columbia, Mo. (0-0) -OR- Carter Happel Sr. • Lisbon, Iowa (0-0)
149: #8 Max Murin Jr. • Ebensburg, Pa. (0-0) -OR- Bretli Reyna Fr. • Homestead, Fla. (0-0)
157: #6 Kaleb Young Sr. • Punxsutawney, Pa. (0-0)
165: #2 Alex Marinelli Sr. • Miamisburg, Ohio (0-0)
174: #1 Michael Kemerer Sr. • Murrysville, Pa. (0-0) -OR- Patrick Kennedy Fr. • Kasson-Mantorville, Minn. (0-0)
184: Nelson Brands So. • Iowa City, Iowa (0-0)
197: #4 Jacob Warner So. • Tolono, Ill. (0-0) -OR- Connor Corbin Jr. • Des Moines, Iowa (0-0)
285: #3 Tony Cassioppi So. • Roscoe, Ill. (0-0)
*Individual rankings according to InterMat
NEWCOMERS SHINE IN SEASON OPENER
Liam Cronin, Nathan Haas and Brock Hardy picked up their first career wins and starts as Huskers in the season opener against Minnesota on Jan. 8. Cronin, who wrestled three seasons at Indiana, kicked off his career at Nebraska with a win at 125 pounds against then-ranked No. 14 Patrick McKee. The senior held McKee scoreless through the first two periods, only allowing an escape in the third to come away with the 8-1 decision.
Haas got the nod at 184 pounds, taking on then-ranked No. 19 Owen Webster. The Norwalk, Calif. native earned a 5-2 decision victory over Webster and amassed over three minutes of riding time to dominate his first match for Nebraska.
Also donning the Scarlet and Cream singlet for the first time, Hardy (149 pounds) earned his first collegiate win in a 9-2 decision over then-ranked No. 19 Michael Blockhus. Hardy’s first points included a four-point near fall, two escapes and a takedown, plus a riding time point.
HUSKERS CONTINUE SEASON-OPENER SUCCESS
The 22-14 win over Minnesota marked the 10th consecutive year Nebraska emerged victorious from its first dual of the season. NU’s 28-9 victory over Bucknell on Nov. 10, 2011 started the streak a decade ago. Over the last 10 seasons, NU has met eight different opponents in its first dual of the season, including Wyoming three times.
CRONIN, RED AND SCHULTZ EXTEND REGULAR SEASON WIN STREAKS
Liam Cronin, Chad Red Jr. and Eric Schultz won their first matches of the 2020-21 campaign to extend their regular season win streaks dating back to last season.
Cronin’s victory brings his regular season win streak to nine matches. Last season at Indiana, he finished the season on an eight-match win streak headed into the 2020 Big Ten Championships.
Red Jr. recorded a 4-1 decision over the Golden Gopher’s Marcos Polanco to extend his regular-season dual win streak to four matches. The senior ended the 2019-20 season on a three-match streak during which he won each by fall.
Schultz earned a 14-3 victory over Minnesota’s Garrett Joles to extend his regular-season dual win streak to five matches, starting last season against Purdue’s Jared Florell. Schultz only dropped one regular season dual during the 2019-20 season, earning 13 dual wins on the season. His longest win streak is nine matches, starting against Chadron State’s Wade French Nov. 7, 2019.
BIG TEN DOMINATES NWCA TOP-25
In the latest NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll, a record 12 Big Ten programs rank among the top-25 in the nation. The Huskers come in at No. 6 in the latest poll as one of five Big Ten schools ranked in the top-10. Seven of Nebraska’s nine opponents this season are ranked this week, including Iowa (1), Minnesota (14), Rutgers (15), Wisconsin (21), Northwestern (22), Illinois (24) and Michigan State (25).
FOUR HUSKERS RANKED TOP-10
After the first dual weekend of Big Ten wrestling, four Nebraska grapplers rank in the top-10 with four others in the top-20.
Senior Eric Schultz leads the Huskers, ranked as high as No. 2 at 197 pounds by InterMat and TrackWrestling. FloWrestling tabs him at No. 3. Junior Mikey Labriola ranks third at 174 pounds by FloWrestling and comes in at fourth according to InterMat and TrackWrestling. Senior Taylor Venz (184) enters his first match of the season ranked sixth by TrackWrestling and FloWrestling and seventh by InterMat. Finally, Chad Red Jr. (141) ranks as high as fifth by FloWrestling and seventh by InterMat and TrackWrestling.
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.