Who: #17 UNI (1-2, 1-0 Big 12) vs #10 Nebraksa
Where: Lincoln, NE | Devaney Center
When: Saturday, January 12th, 7PM
Watch: Huskers.com, Flowrestling (Subscription required)
The Panthers will end their two-stop tour of the Great Plains in Lincoln, Nebraska where they will take on the Cornhuskers, during their annual “Tumble N’ Rumble” event; showcasing their wrestling squad and gymnastics team. The dual looks to be a much stiffer test than the one against SDSU on Friday night, as all but two of Nebraska’s wrestlers are ranked, and five of them are in the top 10.
But UNI counters with five ranked wrestlers of their own, including four in the top ten, and the one who isn’t, Bryce Steiert, has shown that he can hang with the best at 165 pounds. That will be one of the premiere matches of the evening as he’ll take on #7 Isaiah White. The two have never wrestled in college and with a win Steiert can further jam up the 5-12 rankings at the weight.
The feature match of the night has got to be at 184 pounds, where #6 Drew Foster will take on #5 Taylor Venz. Foster has dropped both of their previous matches, the first taking place last season, trying to reverse an 11-8 Venz decision from the Cliff Keen Invitational in November. Recently Venz has two losses to #4 Nick Reenan and #16 Chip Ness, both two point losses and both on the road. In general though Venz wins most matches he’s “supposed” to, so it’s on Foster to get the job done in a hostile gym against a formidable opponent. This is also a big match as far as seedings at the NCAA tournament go.
The last of UNI’s triple threat in their middle weights is Taylor Lujan. Lujan took home second at the Midlands (losing to #2 Zahid Valencia in the final) and was fairly dominate in his other four matches, winning three of them by pinfall. He’ll get Nebraska’s ninth-ranked Mike Labriola, a freshman who’s only loss on the year is to Michigan’s Myles Amine. A win for either guy here puts them on the inside track for a higher seed at the NCAA tournament, especially if one or two of the higher-ranked guys fall during the rest of the year. Lujan’s path to repeating as Big 12 champion doesn’t run though the Big Ten, but a win over this Big Ten opponent would prove that he’s still on track.
As for the rest of the dual, UNI needs to get bonus points where they can, and that starts at 141 and 149 pounds. At the latter weight Max Thomsen needs to pour it on unseeded Jordan Shearer or Zemua Baptista, whichever Cornhusker takes the mat. At 141 Midlands Champion Josh Alber needs to get it going early and often against #17 Chad Red. Alber already owns a 3-2 win over Red (last season at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas) but since then Alber has improved quite a bit while Red has mostly stayed the same. If Alber can get a major that would really boost UNI’s chances of getting the upset.
At 125 pounds Jay Schwarm could really use a big win over Zeke Moisey. The former West Virginia Mountaineer found a new home over the summer and while the two have met before (a 11-3 major decision by Moisey) Moisey hasn’t looked as good as he once did. If Schwarm can pull the upset it would put him back in the rankings, give UNI a more secure situation at 125 and might lead them to an upset.
Jack Skudlarczyk is in a similar position at 133 pounds, minus all the talk about rankings. Skudlarczyk is a young wrestler and this is his first big road test of the season. At 3-6 on the year he needs wins and the experience of what that can mean for a young wrestler. Tyrell Gordon is in the same spot. After a good (not great) match with Cornell where won, he went 1-2 at the Midlands. His opponent Saturday, #6 Eric Schultz will obviously be a tough one, but these are the types of matches that you learn a lot from – or just skip the lesson and score the upset.
Let us know what you’re thinking about the UNI – Nebraska dual in the comments below or on Twitter! We’ll have coverage of the dual on our Twitter page – @IAwrestle – and I usually have more…colorful…coverage of the dual on my Twitter – @Nic_Ryder.
125: Jay Schwarm
133: Jack Skudlarczyk
141: #6 Josh Alber
149: #9 Max Thomsen
157: Pat Schoenfelder
165: #12 Bryce Steiert
174: #8 Taylor Lujan
184: #6 Drew Foster
197: Tyrell Gordon
285: Izaak Shedenhelm
125: #13 Zeke Moisey
133: Tucker Sjomeling
141: #17 Chad Red
149: Jordan Shearer or Zemua Baptista
157: #2 Tyler Berger
165: #7 Isaiah White
174: #9 Mike Labriola
184: #5 Taylor Venz
197: #6 Eric Schultz
285: #19 David Jensen
Rankings are from The Open Mat. Dual rankings were used for the teams.