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Nebraska finishes regular season strong, dominates Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- The fourth-ranked Nebraska wrestling team finished the regular season on a high note, winning seven of 10 bouts en route to a 29-12 victory over No. 13 Minnesota at the Maturi Pavilion in Minneapolis, Minn., on Friday night. With the win, the Huskers enter postseason competition having won each of their final six duals.

No. 5 Isaiah White (165) got things started for the Huskers with a hard-fought decision over Bailee O'Reilly. White led 2-1 after Period 1 thanks to an early takedown and added an escape point to stretch his lead to 3-1 after two periods. White started Period 3 on top and O'Reilly escaped to pull within 3-2. White fended off repeated O'Reilly shots for the rest of the period and emerged with a one-point victory.

A Top-10 matchup followed at 174 pounds between No. 6 Mikey Labriola and No. 8 Devin Skatzka. After a scorless first period, Skatzka scored an escape seconds into Period 2. Labriola responded with a takedown, but Skatzka escaped again to knot the score at two apiece. A late-period Skatzka shot led to a scramble, but neither grappler could secure the takedown and the score remained tied heading into Period 3. Skatzka started the period on top and rode Labriola hard, taking him to his back for four nearfall points. With a point for riding time, Skatzka, a senior, earned a 7-2 decision victory on Minnesota's Senior Night.

No. 11 Taylor Venz (184) continued his streak of solid wrestling, scoring a 5-2 decision against Owen Webster. Venz was the aggressor throughout the match, shooting and scoring in Period 1, scoring a reversal in Period 2, and piling up over two minutes of riding time to run his winning streak to four consecutive matches.

No. 4 Eric Schultz (197) continued to be a scoring machine for the Huskers, tallying five takedowns and four nearfall points en route to a 17-5 major decision over Garrett Joles. Schultz has now amassed 73 dual takedowns and has only been taken down five times by dual meet competition. The junior from Tinley Park, Ill., notched his team-leading 21st victory of the season.

Minnesota's top-rated grappler Gable Steveson (HWT) continued his winning ways, using eight first period points and eleven points in the final period to defeat Christian Lance by major decision, 19-7. Steveson has now competed in 12 bouts this season and has won all 12, with 10 bonus point victories.

Alex Thomsen (125) fought off a deep shot from Jake Gliva in Period 1 before taking Gliva to his back and netting two nearfall points in Period 2. The redshirt freshman from Neola, Iowa, added two takedowns in the third period and earned a point for riding time to win by major decision, 9-1.

Minnesota's Boo Dyrden failed the pre-match skin check and Minnesota was forced to forfeit at 133 pounds, giving No. 14 Ridge Lovett his sixth straight dual meet victory to close out the regular season.

A second Top 10 matchup followed at 141 pounds between No. 9 Chad Red Jr. and No. 6 Mitch McKee. The Golden Gopher grappler scored first on a takedown that was challenged by the Nebraska coaching staff but confirmed following an official's review. Red would get the last laugh, however, locking McKee up in a cradle and winning by pinfall less than one minute into the second period, his third consecutive victory via fall.

Christian Miller got the call at 149 pounds on Friday and drew a tough assignment, squaring off against No. 7 Brayton Lee. Lee proved dominant in a 23-8 technical fall victory, scoring at least two takedowns in all three periods.

In the final bout of the evening, it was Caleb Licking taking on Ryan Thomas at 157 pounds, as No. 19 Peyton Robb did not make weight. Licking did not yield a single point in his first dual meet action since the Nebraska Duals back on Nov. 7, winning 6-0 to put an exclamation point on the Husker victory.

The Big Red will now have a little over two weeks off from competition before heading to New Jersey for the Big Ten Wrestling Championships. Session I begins at 9 a.m. (CT) on Sat., Mar. 7, and can be streamed online via BTN+ (subscription required).

Results:
165: No. 5 Isaiah White (NEB) dec. Bailee O'Reilly (MINN), 3-2 (NEB 3, MINN 0)
174: No. 8 Devin Skatzka (MINN) dec. No. 6 Mikey Labriola (NEB), 7-2 (NEB 3, MINN 3)
184: No. 11 Taylor Venz (NEB) dec. No. 20 Owen Webester (MINN), 5-2 (NEB 6, MINN 3)
197: No. 4 Eric Schultz (NEB) major dec. Garrett Joles (MINN), 17-5 (NEB 10, MINN 3)
HWT: No. 1 Gable Steveson (MINN) major dec. Christian Lance (NEB), 19-7 (NEB 10, MINN 7)
125: Alex Thomsen (NEB) major dec. Jake Gliva (MINN), 9-1 (NEB 14, MINN 7)
133: No. 14 Ridge Lovett (NEB) wins by forfeit (NEB 20, MINN 7)
141: No. 9 Chad Red Jr. (NEB) pinned No. 6 Mitch McKee (MINN), (3:53) (NEB 26, MINN 7)
149: No. 7 Brayton Lee (MINN) tech. fall Christian Miller (NEB), 23-8 (NEB 26, MINN 12)
157: Caleb Licking (NEB) dec. Ryan Thomas (MINN), 6-0 (NEB 29, MINN 12)

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