The Nebraska wrestling team finished 13th at the 2013 NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa with 38 points after compiling an 11-6 dual record. Sophomore Robert Kokesh (174) led the Huskers, finishing third, while James Green (157) garnered All-America honors for the second consecutive season with a seventh-place finish.
Five additional Huskers joined the pair in qualifying for the NCAA Championships: Ridge Kiley (141), Jake Sueflohn (149), Austin Wilson (165), Josh Ihnen (184) and Caleb Kolb (197). Ihnen and Sueflohn each fell one match short of All-America honors in their respective weight classes.
Ihnen, a senior, finished his NU career with a 100-41 record, including All-America accolades in 2012. Sueflohn, a sophomore, won his first two matches before falling in the semifinals to eventual champion Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State. Sueflohn lost in the following match as well to Dylan Ness of Minnesota.
Kiley, a senior, made his third NCAA appearance but came up short in both of his matches to ranked opponents. He finished his Nebraska career with a 71-54 record over four years.
Wilson and Kolb each made their first NCAA appearances in 2013. Wilson, a redshirt freshman, lost his first match of the tournament but responded with three straight wins in the wrestleback bracket before dropping the next to North Dakota State’s Steven Monk. Kolb, a junior, went 1-2 with a sudden victory over Northwestern’s Alex Polizzi.
Kokesh cruised through the first three rounds at 174 pounds before losing a sudden victory to Oklahoma State’s Chris Perry. The following day, Kokesh avenged losses from earlier in the season to Iowa’s Mike Evans (3-2 decision) and Minnesota’s Logan Storley (3-1 sudden victory) to finish third.
Green fell in his opening match to unseeded Kyle Bradley of Missouri but bounced back with four consecutive wins in the wrestleback bracket. After losing by pin to Virginia’s Jedd Moore, Green won a 14-4 major decision over Clarion’s James Fleming to take seventh place.
More than four months before the NCAA Championships, the Huskers opened their season at the Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open in Brookings, S.D., on Nov. 4. Nebraska claimed seven weight class crowns, including 174 where Kokesh and Tyler Koehn tied for first with no contest. Ihnen, Green, Sueflohn, Tim Lambert (125), Shawn Nagel (133), Skylar Galloway (141) and Brandon Wilbourn (165) added weight class titles.
Nebraska, who was ranked No. 9 in the preseason, opened its dual season with a two-match road trip to Greeley, Colo., and Laramie, Wyo., Nov. 10-11. Against Northern Colorado, freshman Eric Coufal started at 125 pounds and won a 1-0 decision over Jesse Meis. Coufal’s victory marked his lone dual win of 2012-13. The Bears won two of the next three matches to knot the score at 6, before Nebraska won the subsequent five. During that stretch, NU earned a pin and two technical falls to build a 28-6 lead. Redshirt freshman Donny Longendyke (HWT) lost the final match of the dual by a 3-2 decision, but the Huskers won 28-9 to start the dual season on the right note.
Nebraska won its first four matches against Wyoming by major decision to build an early 16-0 lead. However, the Cowboys reeled off the next four, including a pin at 125 pounds to cut the lead to 16-15. Galloway and Kiley won crucial decisions at 141 and 149 to secure a 22-15 win over the No. 19 Cowboys.
The Huskers returned home to host three matches Nov. 16-18, including No. 1 Minnesota. In front of an NU Coliseum crowd of 1,869, the Golden Gophers jumped out to a 15-0 lead by winning HWT, 125, 133 and 141 pounds. Sueflohn put Nebraska on the board with a major decision at 149 and Green added a decision to cut the lead to 15-7. The Huskers lost four straight matches by two points each to close out the dual and suffer their first loss of the season, 27-7.
Nebraska fared better two days later against North Carolina and South Dakota State to improve to 4-1. The Tar Heels won at 125, 133 and 141 pounds to race out to a 12-0 lead, but Nebraska never looked back in winning the final seven matches en route to a 25-12 victory. Kokesh’s pin gave the Huskers a three-point lead, and Longendyke added a major decision, the first dual win of his career.
The Huskers and Jackrabbits split the first four matches for a 7-7 tie as Nagel and Galloway won at 133 and 141 pounds. Sueflohn suffered his first loss of the season after a 6-0 start to Dustin Walraven, 3-2. However, Green’s major decision at 157 pounds started a string of six straight wins to close out a 32-7 victory. Kokesh added a technical fall, Ihnen provided a pin and Kolb notched a major decision for NU bonus points.
Nebraska ended November and opened December at the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas, Nev., finishing fifth with 89.5 points. Kokesh and Ihnen claimed crowns at their respective weight classes, while Sueflohn took third, Kiley earned a seventh-place finish and Green finished eighth.
The Huskers hosted Arizona State on Dec. 8 before wrestling Wisconsin on Dec. 9 at the NU Coliseum. Ihnen earned a win in the first match before the Sun Devils rattled off three straight decisions at 197, HWT and 125 to take a 9-3 lead. Nagel, Kiley and Sueflohn bounced back for NU to give the Huskers a 12-9 lead. Green was sidelined at 157 pounds, and senior Ross Grande stepped in against Cody Combs. The difference was a Combs escape in the second period that gave Arizona State a 1-0 decision and tied the match at 12 heading into the final two. Wilson gutted out a 2-0 decision before Kokesh’s 8-3 decision over No. 14 Blake Stauffer clinched an 18-12 win.
The Badgers defeated the Huskers, 19-17, the following day. Like the Arizona State match, Ihnen opened with a win but this time a 17-0 technical fall to give NU a 5-0 lead. Wisconsin erased it quickly and surged to a 16-5 lead of its own through six matches. Sueflohn responded with a major decision, but Grande fell by a 4-2 decision, giving the Badgers a 19-9 lead into the final two matches. Wilson won an 11-5 decision and Kokesh tacked on an 18-2 technical fall but it wasn’t enough.
The Grapple at the Garden in New York, N.Y., on Dec. 16 provided Nebraska the chance to compete in the first-ever wrestling event at Madison Square Garden against two future conference foes: Rutgers and Maryland. Freshman Skylar Wood earned the start at 125 pounds but fell in each of his matches. Wilbourn stepped in at 157 pounds and completed a 1-1 performance.
The Scarlet Knights captured wins at 125 and 133 for an early 7-0 lead. Wilbourn’s major decision along with decisions by Kiley, Sueflohn, Wilson, Kokesh, Ihnen and Kolb in the next seven matches gave Nebraska a commanding 22-7 lead. The Huskers lost at heavyweight but held on for a 22-10 win. The victory marked Head Coach Mark Manning’s 170th at Nebraska.
The Terrapins and Huskers battled through a back-and-forth dual that came down to the final match. Nagel and Kiley earned early wins for a 7-3 lead before losses at 149 and 157 gave Maryland a 9-7 advantage. Koehn made the most of his first start at 165 pounds in a 13-2 major decision over Anthony Guidice to give NU an 11-9 lead. Kokesh added a pin in the next match for a 17-9 score. Ihnen fell by sudden victory to No. 10 Jimmy Sheptock, before No. 16 Christian Boley won a 3-1 decision over Kolb. Holding a 17-15 lead, Longendyke fell in the first tiebreaker, 3-2, to Carl Buchholz. Maryland won the match, 18-17, and the Huskers fell to 6-3 overall.
Nebraska closed out 2012 at the Midlands Invitational, Dec. 29-30 in Evanston, Ill., tying for 15th with 39 points. Kokesh won six matches, picking up his 50th as a Husker in the process, en route to the 174-pound title. Over the course of his championship run, Kokesh outscored his opponents 46-7 and added two pins. Wilson went 4-2 at 165 pounds but didn’t place. Nine additional Huskers wrestled but didn’t make it to the second day of competition.
As the year shifted to 2013, Nebraska embarked on a two-match road trip, Jan. 11-12, facing No. 11 Michigan and No. 18 Northwestern. The 17th-ranked Huskers welcomed back James Green at 157 pounds after he was sidelined for over a month due to injury. He opened the match with a victory, giving NU early momentum. It stopped there as Wilson was pinned in under a minute in the subsequent match to give the Wolverines a 6-3 lead.
Kokesh continued his dominance and Ihnen added a technical fall to give the Huskers an 11-6 lead. The Wolverines bounced back to build a 16-11 lead of their own by winning at 197, HWT and 125 pounds. At 133 pounds, Nagel turned the tide with his first pin of the season, in 2:14, over Rossi Bruno. Kiley added a four-point barrier by winning at 141 pounds, before Sueflohn dropped a 3-2 decision in the final match. The 20-19 win marked Nebraska’s first in Big Ten duals.
The following night, the Huskers took an early lead and never looked back in winning seven matches for a 25-12 triumph over the Wildcats. Sophomore Spencer Johnson (HWT) earned his first dual win of the season, 6-0, after stepping in for Longendyke. Nagel continued his success from the previous night in Ann Arbor with a major decision at 133 pounds. At 157, Green proved he was back by handing No. 2 Jason Welch his first loss of the season, 9-8.
No. 14 Nebraska returned home on Jan. 18 to face No. 5 Illinois in front of 1,365 at the Coliseum. Nagel couldn’t continue his momentum from the previous weekend, narrowly dropping the first match, 10-8, to No. 11 Daryl Thomas. However, Kiley, Sueflohn and Green responded with decisions in the next three matches to give NU a 9-3 lead. Koehn fell at 165, but Kokesh and Ihnen edged ranked opponents for a 15-6 lead.
Following Kolb’s loss at 197, Johnson gutted out a crucial 3-1 decision over Chris Lopez to clinch the victory. Nebraska defeated the Fighting Illini, 18-15, for its first win over a top-five opponent since Jan. 20, 2008 when the Huskers took down No. 2 Oklahoma State, 22-13. The victory also improved NU to 9-3 and gave the Huskers a three-match win streak over ranked conference opponents.
The No. 13 Huskers dropped their next match at No. 1 Penn State, Jan. 27, by a score of 33-9. Sueflohn pinned No. 3 Andrew Alton, and Kokesh added a decision over No. 3 Matt Brown to lead Nebraska. Kiley and Green lost by narrow margins but it wasn’t enough against the Nittany Lions.
The Huskers returned home for the final dual at historic NU Coliseum on Feb. 1 against Michigan State. The unranked Spartans challenged the Huskers on Senior Night, but a Nebraska redshirt freshman ended the match in dramatic fashion to send the crowd of 1,742 into pandemonium. Trailing MSU 19-17 before the final match, Wilson pinned Nick Proctor in 3:45 to clinch the 23-19 NU victory.
On Feb. 10, the No. 13 Huskers fell to No. 2 Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, 31-7. Sueflohn and Ihnen won their matches to lead Nebraska. Kokesh’s 22-match win streak was snapped at the hands of No. 4 Mike Evans. Green also lost a close match to No. 1 Derek St. John.
No. 13 Nebraska headed to Ithaca, N.Y., on Feb. 17, for the NWCA National Duals to face No. 11 Virginia and No. 10 Cornell. The Cavaliers won the first two matches for an 8-0 lead, but the Huskers won the final eight en route to a 28-8 victory. Cornell also took an early lead, winning the first three matches to go up 10-0. Sueflohn, Green, Kokesh, Kolb and Johnson all won their matches, but Nebraska never led in a 19-17 setback.
At the Big Ten Championships, March 9-10 in Champaign, Ill., the Huskers finished seventh with 61 points. Sueflohn and Green advanced to the championship match in each of their weight classes but all were pinned to finish second. Kokesh, after losing his first match of the tournament, surged to a third-place finish. Ihnen notched a fourth-place result and Nagel took eighth for Nebraska.