Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!
Already a subscriber? Log In
Although the postseason was robbed from wrestlers and wrestling fans alike, we can still enjoy some of the top moments of the 2019-20 season. The Nebraska Cornhuskers, although a little under-the-radar when compared to programs like Iowa and Penn State, had an absolutely phenomenal season, filled with small successes and ending with a second-place finish at the Big Ten tournament.
Here are your top 10 moments from Nebraska's season.
10. Finding some stability in the middleweights
Caleb Licking stepped in at 157 pounds for the Huskers after Peyton Robb missed weight in the Minnesota dual. He wrestled Ryan Thomas from the Gophers. He took an early lead and never relented. Licking went on to win the match 6-0. Thomas would go on to be the seven seed at the Big Ten Tournament. The win for Licking could be a big boost as Nebraska looks to fill a void at 149 pounds next season with the graduation of Collin Purinton.
9. Purington steps up in Cedar Falls
Collin Purinton had wrestled a mostly average career through his first three seasons with the Huskers. But his senior year was going to be different. It was a mighty season he had that all started back on Sunday afternoon in November. The Huskers traveled to Cedar Falls to wrestle the UNI Panthers. Purinton was the fourth match of the day. He was wrestling #3 Max Thomsen. The two had a battle, Thomsen led 6-4 after two periods, and Purinton needed a takedown to tie it.
In an intense third period of action Purinton got the takedown to tie the match at six apiece, but he gave up an escape and was down 7-6. Thomsen got hit with stalling and the match then went to overtime. In overtime, Purinton was able to get a takedown for the 9-7 victory and a major confidence boost for the season.
8. Improvement at 197
Eric Schultz missed All-American in 2019, losing in the bloodround. This season Schultz was a more improved and proficient wrestler. Schultz went 23-4. He dropped two matches early in December at the Cliff Keen Invite then really turned it on the rest of the season. His only losses the rest of the season were to #1 Kollin Moore in a home dual and in the Big Ten Championship. He beat #4 Jacob Warner in the Iowa dual 3-1 and #14 Shakur Rasheed twice, in the home dual and in the Big Ten semifinals. Schultz led the Huskers in dual victories and also was the #3 seed at the NCAA Tournament.
7. Red finishes the campaign on fire
Chad Red ended his season the same way we have seen him end his first two seasons: on a tear. Red was dangerous all season but he ended the year really tough and was riding a lot of momentum heading into the NCAA Tournament. After a shaky start to the Big Ten season with losses to Tristan Moran from Wisconsin, Nick Lee from Penn State, and Luke Pletcher from Ohio State, Red turned it on. He ended the season with a pin over #6 Mitch McKee from Minnesota. It was his third straight match he won by fall. Red got the four seed in the Big Ten Tournament. In the quarterfinals he avenged his earlier loss to Moran with a 10-4 victory.
In the semifinals, he wrestled undefeated Nick Lee from Penn State and gave Lee all he could handle but ultimately came up short 7-5. It was Lee’s closest match all season until he lost to Pletcher in the finals. In consolations, Red beat #5 Max Murin from Iowa in overtime 3-1. It set up a third-place grudge match against Moran. Red had his way in the match-winning by major decision 12-3.
6. Lovett delivers on the promise
Ridge Lovett was as decorated as they come entering his freshman season for the Huskers — a four-time state champion, undefeated in high school, multiple-time Fargo All-American, and Cadet World Team Member. So entering this season he had high hopes. Lovett got his redshirt pulled in the UNI dual. He definitely had freshman nerves going on and ended up losing the match to Jack Skudlarczyk 8-2. A week later, Lovett was a completely different wrestler. In the first round of the Cliff Keen Classic, Lovett upset #10 Taylor LaMont from Utah Valley. It set the stage for Lovett as he went on to finish third in the tournament defeating Todd Small from Iowa State 7-1 in the third-place match.
5. Oh-so-close vs the Nittany Lions
Nebraska, riding one of its best seasons in school history, welcomed #2 Penn State in late January. The Huskers wrestled tough and lead the match 18-17 heading into the final bout of the night. Penn State ended up winning the match, but Nebraska showed they were right there with the best teams in the country. The biggest news of the night though was the Huskers set the all-time attendance record for a home dual with 5,960 people.
4. Consistency & skill throughout the lineup
The Huskers head a tough lineup all season from top to bottom. The interesting part for the Huskers is they only lose Collin Purinton, Isaiah White, and David Jensen from the lineup. The Huskers' youth was on full display this season. Redshirt freshman Alex Thomsen finished fifth in the Big Ten and got an auto bid at 125 pounds.
Freshman Lovett was ranked almost the whole year and showed he could wrestle with guys like Austin DeSanto and Seth Gross; he finished seventh at 133 pounds at the Big Ten Tournament securing an auto bid. Another redshirt freshman, Peyton Robb, finished third in the Big Ten Tournament, picking up an upset of Kaleb Young in the second round and put together a fun season for the Huskers with lots of bonus-point victories. Robb was 20-6 this season with five of his losses by a single point, and the other loss by two points to Young in the Iowa dual. Redshirt Kevon Davenport had an impressive redshirt season that included a fall over #8 Henry Pohlmeyer.
3. Wild end in dual vs the Buckeyes
Isaiah White had an emphatic finish to the Nebraska-Ohio State dual. Nebraska defeated #3 Ohio State 19-14 to win in the last seconds of the battle. Entering the final match of the night, Nebraska and Ohio State were tied at 14. White, who had a very impressive year for the Huskers, was not going to let the upset-minded Huskers lose another dual in the final match. White had a narrow lead in the third period, and in the final seconds was able to lock up a cradle on #13 Ethan Smith for the fall. It was only White’s third pin in his Husker career.
2. Making noise in Las Vegas
The Huskers went 19-0 through the first two rounds of the Cliff Keen Invite to give the team a huge lead. The Huskers ended up placing nine out of 10 wrestlers to win the team title over Ohio State. Purinton and Robb finished in seventh. Christian Lance finished sixth. Red, Schultz, and Taylor Venz finished in fifth. Lovett and Mikey Labriola finished in third. Isaiah White was the lone champion for the Huskers winning 3-1 in overtime over #6 Josh Shields from Arizona State.
1. Closing the season strong in Piscataway
Nebraska had heard all season that they were in the second tier of Big Ten teams behind Iowa, Penn State, Ohio State, and would be in a battle with Purdue and Northwestern. Nebraska proved them all wrong. The Huskers had a strong showing at the Big Ten and were the only team in the whole country to qualify their whole team with automatic bids. Nebraska and Iowa were the only teams to get all 10 wrestlers to nationals. Nebraska and Iowa wrestled themselves to a huge gap from the rest of the conference going back and forth for the team points lead through the first day and medal rounds. Iowa ultimately pulled away with three Big Ten champions, but the Huskers secured second place, their highest finish in the Big Tens since they joined the conference.