2022-23 Nebraska Wrestling

Husker Insider: Scouting What's Ahead For Nebraska

Husker Insider: Scouting What's Ahead For Nebraska

The Big Ten dual season kicks off this weekend for Nebraska with meets against Minnesota and Northwestern. Here's a look at what's ahead for the Huskers.

Jan 12, 2023 by Dylan Guenther
Husker Insider: Scouting What's Ahead For Nebraska
Sixteenth-ranked Nebraska is finally done with its non-conference slate. The Huskers are 4-2 in duals and won team titles at both CKLV and the Navy Invite.

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Sixteenth-ranked Nebraska is finally done with its non-conference slate. The Huskers are 4-2 in duals and won team titles at both CKLV and the Navy Invite. 

With seven wrestlers currently ranked in their respective weight classes – led by #1 Peyton Robb (157 pounds), #2 Mikey Labriola (174) and #4 Brock Hardy (141) – Nebraska currently is ranked #4 on our Team Tournament Rankings.

Now it’s onto the Big Ten slate for Nebraska. The Huskers will face off against teams like #2 Iowa and #7 Ohio State. But the Huskers will not face #1 Penn State and #8 Michigan in dual action. At the end of the season, the Huskers close out their dual schedule with a home dual against #6 Arizona State.

Nebraska’s Remaining Schedule

Jan. 13 – vs. #14 Minnesota

Jan. 15 – vs. #10 Northwestern

Jan. 20 – at # 2 Iowa

Jan. 29 – vs. #12 Wisconsin

Feb. 3 – at #21 Illinois

Feb. 4 – at Purdue

Feb. 10 – at #9 Ohio State

Feb. 12 – vs. #16 Rutgers

Feb. 19 – vs. #6 Arizona State

So, with the upcoming schedule and their potential opponents known, let’s take a deep dive into each Husker’s potential slate of opponents.

125 pounds – #8 Liam Cronin (Sr.)

Potential ranked opponents (in order of potential matchup):

#3 Pat McKee (Minnesota)

#4 Michael DeAugustino (Northwestern)

#1 Spencer Lee (Iowa)

#5 Eric Barnett (Wisconsin)

#11 Matt Ramos (Purdue)

#9 Malik Heinselman (Ohio State)

#15 Dean Peterson (Rutgers)

#6 Brandon Courtney (Arizona State)

Not only does #8 Liam Cronin have possibly the toughest remaining schedule on the team, he may have one of the toughest roads in the country, at any weight. Cronin will face five of the Top-10 ranked guys in the country, including #1 Spencer Lee of Iowa.

“It’s great. It’s why you’re wrestling in the Big Ten,” Husker head coach Mark Manning said. “It’s why you’re competing to be a national champ – you want to wrestle the best.”

This weekend, Nebraska opens its conference schedule at home against #12 Minnesota on Friday night before hosting #11 Northwestern on Sunday afternoon. Cronin will likely face both #3 Pat McKee and #4 Michael DeAugustino. Cronin is 1-0 against McKee with an 8-1 win in 2021. He’s 1-3 against DeAugustino going back to his days as an Indiana Hoosier. 

“The challenge is always big enough, but Liam has wrestled both these guys this weekend and he’s wrestled (Eric) Barnett before,” Manning said. “It’ll be a challenge this weekend and really the rest of the month here. Liam has been focusing on just each week and keeping not only him but all our team just locked in to what’s right in front of us.” 

A seventh-year senior, Cronin is 11-2 on the year with a third-place finish at CKLV under his belt. With this tough of a schedule, the opportunity is there for Cronin to climb up the rankings.

133 pounds – Boo Dryden (Sr.)/Alex Thomsen (Jr.)/Kyle Burwick (Jr.)

Potential ranked opponents:

#22 Aaron Nagao (Minnesota)

#11 Chris Cannon (Northwestern)

#12 Brody Teske (Iowa)

HM Taylor LaMont (Wisconsin)

#9 Lucas Byrd (Illinois)

#13 Jesse Mendez (Ohio State)

#14 Joe Heilmann (Rutgers)

#4 Michael McGee (Arizona State)

This is a weight class that’s still not solidified for the Huskers. They have Boo Dryden, an honorable mention in the 133-pound rankings. He’s 6-4 on the year and has struggled at times. They’ve also gone with Alex Thomsen who’s 2-3 this season and is coming off a loss in his only dual action this year against Campbell’s Dominic Zaccone.

Then there’s the real question mark that is Kyle Burwick. Wrapped up in an eligibility squabble between Nebraska and Wisconsin after transferring this summer, Burwick is 10-0 in open tournaments this year and would likely be an upgrade over Dryden and Thomsen in the starting lineup. 

“We’re trying to figure that out (at 133) and also waiting to hear back from the NCAA about the Kyle Burwick situation. That is all yet to be resolved,” Manning said. “It’s pretty obvious we’re trying to find an answer there – to get Boo going. And if Boo’s not the guy, then Thomsen. Someone’s got to step up there. We’re trying to give everyone an equal opportunity to emerge.”

No matter who toes the line for the Huskers, he’ll have a tall task ahead of himself with seven potential matches against ranked opponents.

141 pounds – #4 Brock Hardy (R-Fr.)

Potential ranked opponents:

#11 Jakob Bergeland (Minnesota)

#10 Frankie Tal Shahar (Northwestern)

#2 Real Woods (Iowa)

#18 Joseph Zargo (Wisconsin)

#22 Parker Filius (Purdue)

HM Sammy Alvarez (Rutgers)

#20 Jesse Vasquez (Arizona State)

A real bright spot for the Huskers this season has been the redshirt freshman Hardy. He’s 17-2 on the year and has won 16 straight matches, including his first-place finish at CKLV.

This weekend, Hardy has matches against a pair of ranked opponents in #11 Jakob Bergeland and #10 Frankie Tal Shahar. If he can hold serve against those two, he’ll face off against Iowa’s #2 Real Woods in what could be Nebraska’s most pivotal single matchup of its conference slate.

“He’s got a tough weekend this weekend. He’s got All-American Bergeland and he’s got (Frankie) Tal Shahar who just beat Bergeland,” Manning said. “Brock is just improving each time out. Brock is just going to keep getting better as the year goes on. He’s wrestling well and he’s confident.”

After putting together one of the more impressive starts to this season at 141, Hardy is in position to do some damage for the Huskers.

149 pounds – Dayne Morton (Sr.)/Blake Cushing (R-Fr.)

Potential ranked opponents:

#18 Michael Blockhus (Minnesota)

#4 Yahya Thomas (Northwestern)

#8 Max Murin (Iowa)

#2 Austin Gomez (Wisconsin)

#3 Sammy Sasso (Ohio State)

HM Anthony White (Rutgers)

#5 Kyle Parco (Arizona State)

Much like at 133, Nebraska hasn’t yet figured out its starter at 149. With NCAA finalist Ridge Lovett redshirting this season, the Huskers have gone with Division II transfer Dayne Morton most of the year. Despite a 5-0 win over Campbell’s Chris Rivera last time out, Morton has struggled with a 3-7 record.

“We’re challenging Dayne a little bit, and he really responded well in the Campbell match. We need to be more competitive,” Manning said. “We have some really good guys around – you know at 149 we have Ridge in our room every day, we have Peyton Robb. These are good guys. You aren’t going to wrestle anyone better than those guys you wrestle in the room every day.”

In their dual this weekend against Gardner-Webb, Nebraska sent out redshirt freshman Blake Cushing for his first career dual. Originally a 141-pounder to start the year, Cushing earned a 5-2 decision win over Corbin Dion. He also recorded a pin in an extra match, giving him a 10-3 record on the year.

“We’re just looking for answers. We’re just looking for someone to step up there,” Manning said. “We need more as a team from one of those guys.”

157 pounds – #1 Peyton Robb (Jr.)

Potential ranked opponents:

#10 Brayton Lee (Minnesota)

#9 Trevor Chumbley (Northwestern)

#17 Cobe Siebrecht (Iowa)

#21 Garrett Model (Wisconsin)

#16 Mike Carr (Illinois)

#3 Kendall Coleman (Purdue)

HM Paddy Gallagher (Ohio State)

#23 Andrew Clark (Rutgers)

For the top-ranked Robb, it’s been an impressive start to the year as he’s 14-0 with six wins over ranked opponents. He’s already beaten #2 Jared Franek via 7-4 decision and #3 Kendall Coleman 7-3 in the CKLV final.

“I think it’s more about what Peyton’s all about rather than who’s he wrestling so we try to separate that,” Manning said of their approach with Robb. “Peyton is still just evolving himself as a wrestler. He’s trying to get better every day and make improvements each week.”

This weekend, Robb will face a pair of Top-10 opponents in #10 Brayton Lee and #9 Trevor Chumbley. Robb is 0-1 against Lee in his career and hasn’t faced Chumbley. Robb will also face Coleman again in a dual but should be favored after his comfortable win over the Biolermaker at CKLV.

Robb has proven himself to be the class of the 157-pound weight class and should be favored in the remainder of his matches.

165 pounds – #21 Bubba Wilson (So.)

Potential ranked opponents:

#22 Andrew Sparks (Minnesota)

HM Maxx Mayfield (Northwestern)

#10 Patrick Kennedy (Iowa)

#5 Dean Hamiti (Wisconsin)

#11 Dan Braunagel (Illinois)

#7 Carson Kharchla (Ohio State)

Facing one of the “easier” conference schedules on the team, #21 Bubba Wilson enters Big Ten dual season with a 9-6 record. After an opening-round loss at CKLV, Wilson won five straight matches to unltimitely finish in fourth place.

This weekend, Wilson starts his conference schedule against #22 Andrew Sparks and Maxx Mayfield, an honorable mention in the rankings. 

“He’s getting all the pieces put together. I got a lot of confidence in Bubba Wilson,” Manning said. “He’s going to do well and he’s going to knock off some guys. Bubba is a tough dude, and he’s just trying to put everything together. He’s a fighter, man.”

An NCAA qualifier last season, Wilson has a tough but manageable path through the conference season. His toughest tests will be against #5 Dean Hamiti and #7 Carson Kharchla. 

174 pounds – #2 Mikey Labriola (Sr.)

Potential ranked opponents:

#14 Bailee O’Reilly (Minnesota)

#21 Troy Fisher (Northwestern)

#17 Nelson Brands (Iowa)

#7 Edmond Ruth (Illinois)

#6 Ethan Smith (Ohio State)

Without having Penn State and #1 Carter Starocci on the dual schedule, Labriola will face a road without the top threat in the conference. Despite that, Manning is challenging Labriola to continue his improvement and trust in his offense as he gears up for a final postseason run.

“There’s going to be tough opponents along the way,” Manning said. “There’s always challenges and ways to get better. We want to just continue to get Mikey firing more and just create more action.”

In February, Labriola will face off against his toughest opponents in #7 Edmond Ruth and #6 Ethan Smith. Wrestling better than ever this season, Labriola is currently 15-0 with a win over NCAA champion Mekhi Lewis in the finals at CKLV. Labriola is 2-1 against Smith in his career but has not yet faced Ruth.

184 pounds – #15 Lenny Pinto (R-Fr.)

Potential ranked opponents:

#11 Isaiah Salazar (Minnesota)

#8 Abe Assad (Iowa)

HM Dylan Connell (Illinois)

#5 Kaleb Romero (Ohio State)

#16 Brian Soldano (Rutgers)

#18 Anthony Montalvo (Arizona State)

Nebraska’s #15 Lenny Pinto has had some ups and downs this year, including a three-match losing skid in Vegas after making it to the CKLV semifinals, but he’s also knocked off some ranked opponents along the way. He had wins at CKLV over both #7 Trey Munoz of Oregon State and #9 Jonathan Loew of Cornell. Pinto also avenged a pinfall loss at CKLV to #17 Cade King of South Dakota State with a 12-2 major decision win in a dual two weeks later.

“Lenny is another guy that’s just getting better because he didn’t have any matches last year,” Manning said. “He’s just a man that’s in development mode.”

Sporting a 9-5 record on the year, Pinto has been hitting his stride lately, highlighted by his most recent win, a 14-6 major decision over two-time NCAA qualifier Caleb Hopkins of Campbell. This weekend, Pinto will have a tough test against #11 Isaiah Salazar of Minnesota who’s 9-1 on the year. 

“He’s getting better every time out,” Manning said. “He’s figuring out how different guys are wrestling him and he’s got a good challenge this weekend.”

Other matches to circle are against #8 Abe Assad in Carver-Hawkeye Arena as well as vs. #5 Kaleb Romero on the road.

197 pounds – #15 Silas Allred (R-Fr.)

Potential ranked opponents:

HM Michial Foy (Minnesota)

HM Andrew Davison (Northwestern)

#10 Jacob Warner (Iowa)

#17 Braxton Amos (Wisconsin)

#9 Zac Braunagel (Illinois)

#13 Gavin Hoffman (Ohio State)

#20 Kordell Norfleet (Arizona State)

Another redshirt freshman starter for Nebraska is #15 Silas Allred. He’s 14-4 on the year with all four of his losses coming to ranked opponents, two of which were to #7 Isaac Trumble of NC State. 

According to Manning, Allred along with Hardy and Pinto continue to be guys that are getting better at a rapid pace.

“Him and Brock and Lenny are just guys that are improving overall. It’s different being on the team and being someone others look up to and count on,” Manning said. “We talk about it all the time, pressure is a privilege. It’s a privilege to represent. It’s not a negative, it’s a positive. The more Silas and Brock and those guys are part of a team and are traveling with the team, they’re just embracing that more. They’re better teammates, so that makes them better competitors. Silas has those qualities and characteristics that set him apart. He’s a go-er man. He’s going to be a tough out for people.”

This weekend, Allred will face a pair of honorable mentions before taking on #10 Jacob Warner of Iowa for the first time. Allred also already has a 5-2 win over #13 Gavin Hoffman of Ohio State who he’ll see on Feb. 10.

285 pounds – Cale Davidson (Sr.)

Potential ranked opponents:

HM Garrett Joles (Minnesota)

#4 Lucas Davison (Northwestern)

#3 Tony Cassioppi (Iowa)

#11 Trent Hillger (Wisconsin)

#18 Tate Orndorff (Ohio State)

#23 Boone McDermott (Rutgers)

#6 Cohlton Schultz (Arizona State)

Nebraska’s Cale Davidson, a former Wyoming transfer, has done relatively well holding down the heavyweight spot for the Huskers. The former 197-pounder is 7-10 on the year with most of his losses coming to ranked wrestlers.

Things won’t get any easier for Davidson as Big Ten play starts as he’ll face three Top-10 opponents, including a showdown with #4 Lucas Davison this Sunday.

“Cale has just got to trust his offense a little more and just needs to keep doing what he’s doing,” Manning said. “He’s wrestling hard and giving great effort. We just need more of it. He’s fighting hard for us, man. He’s a fighter and a competitor.”

With other big matches against the likes of #3 Tony Cassioppi and #6 Cohlton Schultz on the docket, Davidson has the opportunity to really up his stock with some upset wins.