New-look Nebraska wrestling team makes strong debut

BROOKINGS, S.D. — New-look Nebraska looked pretty good in its season debut Sunday at the Warren Williamson Open.

Five Huskers won their weight classes, two others were runners-up and three others placed third.

In three successive finals, Huskers defeated Minnesota wrestlers who were ranked in InterMat’s preseason top-10 poll.

At 141 pounds, NU freshman Chad Red, ranked 17th, got a takedown in sudden victory for a 5-3 win over sixth-ranked Tommy Thorn, who was an All-American last season.

At 149, NU’s Colton McCrystal, ranked ninth, and No. 7 Steve Bleise were tied 1-1 after three periods before McCrystal won in a tiebreaker. And at 157, NU’s Tyler Berger, who placed fifth at nationals last season and is ranked fourth in the preseason, defeated No. 10 Jake Short 4-2 with a takedown in sudden victory.

Other winners for NU were 184-pound freshman Taylor Venz, who led 12-1 after the first period and went to a 17-1 technical fall over South Dakota State’s Brady Ayers in his championship match. And at 174, NU freshman Mikey Labriola, who was wrestling unattached, took a 7-2 first-period lead en route to a 7-3 win over 14th-ranked David Kocer of South Dakota State.

NU’s Isaiah White (165) and Eric Schultz (197) were runners-up as both lost narrow decisions in the finals. White lost 2-0 to 11th-ranked Nick Wanzek of Minnesota, while Schultz led No. 9 Nate Rotert of South Dakota State 5-3 in the third period before losing in a tiebreaker, 6-5.

Also for the Huskers, Kris Williams (125), Brian Peska (133) and Collin Purinton (149) took third place at their respective weight classes, while Mitchell Maginnis (125), Luke Weber (149) and heavyweight David Jensen placed fourth.

In all, 28 wrestlers on Nebraska’s roster competed in the tournament and 16 finished in the top five.

Nebraska, which graduated six senior starters from last year’s team that placed ninth at nationals, opens its dual season against Wyoming at home on Nov. 17. That will be the Huskers’ only home meet until Dec. 15.