Winning seven individual matches on the day, the Nebraska wrestling team closed the 2021 regular season with a 25-9 win over Illinois on Sunday in Champaign, Ill. The Huskers finish the conference-only slate 7-1, going undefeated in the last six duals of the regular season.
The Huskers earned bonus points in three matches, picking up major decisions at 174 and 184 pounds and a technical fall in the 149-pound bout.
Mikey Labriola and Eric Schultz finish the regular season undefeated in eight matches on the year while Liam Cronin and Chad Red Jr. went 6-1 on the year with their only losses coming against Iowa in the second dual of the season.
Cronin got the day started with a 4-3 decision over Justin Cardani in the 133-pound match. Behind 1-2 in the final seconds of the second period, Cronin scored a takedown to tie the bout 3-3. The senior recorded another escape in the third period to take the match.
Chad Red Jr. (141 pounds) added another win for the Huskers against Dylan Duncan in a match that went down to the final seconds. Red Jr. scored a reversal and two near fall points in the last seconds of the bout, taking a 4-3 win for the Huskers.
At 149 pounds, Ridge Lovett earned his second dual win of the season and first technical fall of the season with a 20-5 win over Danny Pucino. Lovett earned two four-point near falls, three takedowns, two escapes and a two-point near fall to take the match.
Caleb Licking picked up his second consecutive win with a 10-4 decision over Luke Odom at 157 pounds. Licking held Odom scoreless through two periods while scoring two takedowns and building up his riding time. He added two more takedowns and an escape in the final period while recording over three minutes of riding time in the match to give him his third win of the season.
Mikey Labriola earned his fourth major decision of the season in a 17-6 win over Trey Sizemore. The win is his 18th major decision of his career and brings his total match points to a team-high 105 for the 2021 campaign.
Returning to the lineup at 184 pounds, Taylor Venz won a 12-1 major decision over No. 14 Zac Braunagel. He recorded four near fall points, three takedowns and added two more points from an escape and 1:45 of riding time for his second bonus point win of the season and first win over a ranked opponent this year.
Eric Schultz earned the Huskers final win of the day, defeating Matt Wroblewski, 4-1, at 197 pounds. After a scoreless first period, Schultz earned an escape and a takedown in the second period and added a riding time point to earn his eighth win of the season. The Tinley Park, Ill. native's regular season dual win streak improves to 12 matches over two seasons.
Tucker Sjomeling, Peyton Robb and Christian Lance each battled ranked opponents in their matches, but ultimately fell to the Illini. Sjomeling earned the start at 133 pounds, falling 8-10 to No. 14 Lucas Byrd. Peyton Robb met Danny Braunagel in the 165-pound match but fell by decision, 6-9. Christian Lance battled No. 10 Luke Luffman through more than two minutes of overtime but Luffman earned the deciding takedown to take the match, 4-2.
The Huskers finished undefeated in extra matches on the day with Jeremiah Reno, Brock Hardy and Brandyn Van Tassell pinning their opponents while Alex Thomsen added a decision win for Nebraska.
A post-season push comes next for the Huskers, who have just under two weeks before they hit the mat in State College, Pa. for the 2021 Big Ten Championships on March 6-7.
125: #9 Liam Cronin (NEB) dec. Justin Cardani (ILL), 4-3 (NEB 3, ILL 0)
133: #14 Lucas Bryd (ILL) dec. Tucker Sjomeling (NEB), 10-8 (NEB 3, ILL 3)
141: #7 Chad Red Jr. (NEB) dec. #14 Dylan Duncan (ILL), 4-3 (NEB 6, ILL 3)
149: Ridge Lovett (NEB) tech. fall Danny Pucino (ILL), 20-5 (NEB 11, ILL 3)
157: Caleb Licking (NEB) dec. Luke Odom (ILL), 10-4 (NEB 14, ILL 3)
165: #8 Danny Braunagel (ILL) dec. #18 Peyton Robb (NEB), 9-6 (NEB 14, ILL 6)
174: #2 Mikey Labriola (NEB) major dec. Trey Sizemore (ILL), 17-6 (NEB 18, ILL 6)
184: #16 Taylor Venz (NEB) major dec. #14 Zac Braunagel (ILL), 12-1 (NEB 22, ILL 6)
197: #1 Eric Schultz (NEB) dec. Matt Wroblewski (ILL), 4-1 (NEB 25, ILL 6)
285: #10 Luke Luffman (ILL) dec. #11 Christian Lance (NEB), 4-2 SV-3 (NEB 25, ILL 9)
125: Jeremiah Reno (NEB) pinned Joshua Contreras (ILL), 6:57
133: Alex Thomsen (NEB) dec. We Rachal (ILL), 3-2
149: Brock Hardy (NEB) pinned Andrew Cohen (ILL), 4:58
197: Brandyn Van Tassell (NEB) pinned Isaiah Pettigrew (ILL), 2:39