The No. 12 Nebraska wrestling team returns to action this weekend at the Big Ten Championships at Assembly Hall in Champaign, Ill., as its final competition before the NCAA Championships.
The Big Ten Championships start Saturday at 10 a.m. CT, with live video available on the Big Ten Digital Network. A subscription is required to view the matches but the Illinois video crew will be streaming video as well that can be found at the Tournament Central link above. In addition, live results will be on TrackWrestling.com.
Saturday’s second session begins at 5 p.m., before Sunday’s third and fourth sessions. Session III starts at 11:30 a.m., and Session IV begins at 1:30 p.m. The fourth session will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
The Huskers enter the tournament following a 1-1 showing at the NWCA National Duals in Ithaca, N.Y., on Feb. 17. In Nebraska’s first dual, the Huskers lost the first two matches against No. 11 Virginia, but won the final eight en route to a 28-8 victory. In the second matchup, NU never led in a 19-17 loss to No. 10 Cornell.
Nebraska will be making its second all-time appearance in the Big Ten Championships. Last season the Huskers finished eighth with 65 points as Penn State took home the team title. Individually, Josh Ihnen finished second and Robert Kokesh notched a third-place result to lead the Huskers in 2012.
NU has won seven team conference championships, with the latest coming in 2009. The Huskers earned two conference titles while in the Big Eight, in 1993 and 1995. They claimed the Big Seven crown in 1949 after the Missouri Valley title in 1924 and the W.I.A.A. championship in 1911 and 1915.
Sixty Huskers have earned individual conference titles since 1924, with the latest being Jordan Burroughs and David Klingsheim in 2011. During Nebraska’s time in the Big 12, the Huskers won 20 individual titles. As members of the Big Eight, individual Huskers earned 25 titles, adding 13 while in the Big Seven, one in the Big Six and one in the Missouri Valley.
The Huskers completed the dual season with an 11-6 record, which included a 4-4 mark in Big Ten duals. Nebraska faced 10 ranked opponents during the 2012-13 campaign, earning a 5-5 record in those matches. NU spent the entire dual season ranked in the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll, achieving as high of a spot as ninth and as low as 17th.
Last Time Out: Huskers Knocked Off at NWCA National Duals
No. 13 Nebraska took down No. 11 Virginia in its opening match at the NWCA National Duals on Sunday, Feb. 17, but fell to No. 10 Cornell in the second round.
In the first dual, the No. 3-seeded Huskers trailed the No. 2-seeded Cavaliers 8-0 after two matches but won the final eight matches en route to a 28-8 victory. No. 1 seed Cornell took down No. 4 seed Hofstra in the other first round match, 42-0.
Virginia’s Matt Snyder, No. 10 by InterMat, opened with a 16-0 technical fall over Eric Coufal (125) before No. 13 George DiCamillo added an 8-2 decision over Shawn Nagel at 133 pounds. Senior Ridge Kiley responded in the third match of the afternoon at 141 pounds with a 5-0 decision over No. 20 Joe Spisak.
No. 10 Jake Sueflohn (149) added a 2-0 decision over No. 20 Derek Valenti to cut the Virginia lead to 8-6. At 157 pounds, the Cavaliers forfeited to Brandon Wilbourn, giving Nebraska its first lead, 12-8. The Huskers never looked back as ranked wrestlers James Green, Robert Kokesh and Josh Ihnen provided a 22-8 cushion before Caleb Kolb and Spencer Johnson added the final blow.
Green, who is ranked No. 6 by InterMat, wrestled at 165 pounds against No. 7 Nick Sulzer. Green notched a 5-2 decision for his 17th win of the season. No. 4 Kokesh (174) picked up his 12th win over a ranked opponent with his 7-4 decision over No. 16 Jon Fausey. No. 8 Ihnen (184) defeated Stephen Doty by an 11-3 major decision.
Kolb (197) and Johnson (HWT) each added 8-2 decisions over Mike Salopek and Derek Papagianopoulos, respectively to close out the dual.
In the second round, the Huskers won five matches but never led in a 19-17 setback against No. 10 Cornell. Coufal (125), Nagel (133) and Kiley (141) dropped the opening three matches of the dual for a 10-0 Cornell lead. No. 6 Nahshon Garrett won an 11-3 major decision for Cornell at 125 pounds before Bricker Dixon added a narrow 3-2 decision at 133 and No. 13 Mike Nevinger earned a 6-2 decision at 141.
The Huskers responded with victories at 149 and 157 to cut the lead to three. Sueflohn notched a 12-3 major decision over No. 14 Chris Villalonga before Green provided a 5-2 decision over Jesse Shanaman.
Cornell bounced back at 165 pounds as undefeated No. 1 Kyle Dake pinned Tyler Koehn in 3:57. Kokesh won a major decision, 13-3, over Marshall Peppelman in the following match at 174 pounds to trim the lead to 16-11. Kokesh, a sophomore, is one win shy of his 30th of the season as he has won 24 of his last 25 matches.
No. 8 Ihnen fell by a 3-0 decision to No. 4 Steve Bosak at 184 pounds to give Cornell an eight-point advantage. Kolb (197) won a 7-5 decision over Jace Bennett and Johnson (HWT) won a 5-2 decision over Lane, but it wasn’t enough in the 19-17 loss.
Nine Huskers Pre-Seeded by Big Ten
Nine Husker wrestlers earned preliminary seeds in their weight classes for this weekend’s Big Ten Championships after the conference announced them on Monday, March 4.
The pre-seeds, as voted on by the conference’s coaches, rank the top eight wrestlers in five weight classes, along with 11 or 12 schools’ starters in five weight classes due to the Big Ten receiving eight or more NCAA Championships qualifier allocations in those classes. Each team enters the championships with a seeded wrestler in the 165-, 174- and 285-pound weight classes.
Husker wrestlers in the Big Ten Championships pre-seedings are:
133: #8 Shawn Nagel
141: #6 Ridge Kiley
149: #4 Jake Sueflohn
157: #4 James Green
165: #8 Austin Wilson
174: #3 Robert Kokesh
184: #3 Josh Ihnen
197: #11 Caleb Kolb
HWT: #9 Spencer Johnson
Seven Huskers in RPI Rankings
Seven Nebraska wrestlers are ranked in the latest RPI Rankings, released on Feb. 28. Robert Kokesh (2nd at 174) and Josh Ihnen (2nd at 184) are the two Huskers in the top five of their weight classes. The Big Ten Conference has eight allocated spots for the NCAA Championships at 174 pounds and six allocations at 184 pounds.
Jake Sueflohn (8th at 149) and James Green (8th at 157) round out the top 10 for Nebraska. Eight spots are allocated for the Big Ten at 149 pounds and seven are available at 157. Additional Huskers in the RPI Rankings include Austin Wilson (18th at 165), Shawn Nagel (23rd at 133) and Caleb Kolb (29th at 197). Eight spots are allocated for the Big Ten at 165 and 197 pounds, while seven are available at 133.
The Big Ten has 74 qualifier allocations for the NCAA Championships, leading all conferences.
Husker wrestlers in the RPI Rankings are:
133: #23 Shawn Nagel
149: #8 Jake Sueflohn
157: #8 James Green
165: #18 Austin Wilson
174: #2 Robert Kokesh
184: #2 Josh Ihnen
197: #29 Caleb Kolb
Wilson Approaching Top 10 Freshman Wins
Redshirt freshman Austin Wilson is four wins shy of a spot in the top 10 season victories by a Husker freshman. Wilson is 24-10 and would tie John Buxton (1989-90) and Matt Keller (2003-04) for 10th if he reaches 28 victories.
Kokesh Eyeing 30 Wins
Sophomore Robert Kokesh (174) is one win shy of his 30th of the season. Kokesh achieved the mark in 2011-12 and would become the 64th wrestler in Husker history to reach that number in one season. If he earns his 32nd win, Kokesh will be in the top 10 season wins by a sophomore. If he reaches 35 wins, he would move into the top 20 victories in a season by a Husker wrestler.
Kokesh also has a chance to move into elite company in two of Nebraska’s other season record lists. He holds a .935 winning percentage through 31 matches and would move into the top 10 if he finishes the season at .944.
In addition, Kokesh could enter the top 10 season falls list with five more at the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Championships. He currently has eight pins and five technical falls for a total of 13. If he reaches 18, he will tie Corey Olson’s total from the 1989-90 season.
Kiley Keeping It Close
Senior Ridge Kiley (141) is 14-9 on the season with a 9-5 mark in duals. Of Kiley’s 23 matches, 20 have been decided by decision. All of his 14 wins are decisions and six of his nine losses are by decision. He has lost two major decisions and was pinned once. Eight of Kiley’s matches have been decided by three points or less. He holds a 5-3 record in those matches.
Ihnen Climbing Up Wins List
Senior Josh Ihnen (184) is six wins shy of the 100th of his career at Nebraska. Ihnen holds a 94-37 record in more than three years with the Huskers. He is 52-22 in dual competition. This season Ihnen is 21-4 overall with first-place showings at the Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open and the Cliff Keen Invitational. He has a 13-4 record in duals and a 7-4 mark against ranked opponents.
Last season Ihnen earned All-America accolades following a 26-8 record. He went 16-3 in duals and posted eight major decisions in his junior season. As a sophomore in 2010-11, Ihnen went 28-10 with a 14-5 dual record. During his redshirt-freshman season, he compiled a 19-15 record, going 10-10 in duals. In both 2010 and 2011, Ihnen fell one match short of a top-eight finish at the NCAA Championships before finishing eighth in 2012.
Kokesh Looks to Keep Momentum Going
Robert Kokesh has won 24 of his last 25 matches and will look to continue that stretch at the Big Ten Championships. The sophomore’s lone loss during that span was a 9-6 setback to then-No. 4 Mike Evans of Iowa on Feb. 10. Kokesh has won the Midlands Invitational and Cliff Keen Invitational titles while defeating 12 ranked opponents over the timeframe. He earned Big Ten Co-Wrestler-of-the-Week honors on Jan. 2.
Kokesh leads all starters in victories (29), dual wins (15), dual points (63), pins (8) and major decisions (7). He is second on the team in technical falls with five on the season.
Kokesh’s other loss came to then-No. 5 Logan Storley of Minnesota by a 3-1 sudden victory on Nov. 16.
Johnson Stepping In at Heavyweight
Sophomore Spencer Johnson moved up from 197 pounds to heavyweight this season and competed for the Huskers in their last eight duals. Johnson is 6-5 with a 4-4 dual record.
Following a 1-1 showing against Michigan and Northwestern, Jan. 11-12, Johnson won a crucial 3-1 decision over Illinois’ Chris Lopez en route to a Nebraska victory on Jan. 18. He lost three consecutive matches to top-20 opponents from Penn State, Michigan State and Iowa before bouncing back with a 2-0 performance at the NWCA National Duals.
Huskers Complete Challenging Dual Slate
Nebraska completed its 2012-13 dual season with an 11-6 record following the NWCA National Duals on Feb. 17. The Huskers wrestled against 10 teams that are ranked in the final NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll of the season, which was released on Feb. 26.
NU defeated No. 8 Illinois, No. 13 Virginia, No. 18 Michigan, No. 23 Wyoming and No. 25 Rutgers, but lost to No. 1 Minnesota, No. 3 Penn State, No. 5 Iowa, No. 9 Cornell and No. 24 Maryland. In addition, Northwestern was ranked 18th when Nebraska defeated the Wildcats, 25-12, on Jan. 12.
The Huskers went 4-4 in Big Ten duals, with a win over Michigan State and a loss to Wisconsin in addition to the 3-3 record against the ranked conference teams listed above. Nebraska went 5-2 at home in its final season at the NU Coliseum, while compiling a 4-3 record on the road and a 2-1 mark at neutral sites. Two of NU’s neutral matches took place at the Grapple at the Garden, Dec. 16, when it took down Rutgers before losing to Maryland. The third neutral match for Nebraska was a 28-8 victory over Virginia at the NWCA National Duals in Ithaca, N.Y.
Nebraska’s longest winning streak of the season was three matches, which the Huskers achieved twice. NU never lost back-to-back matches during the season. Nebraska’s 11 wins in 2012-13 is tied for the 24th-most in school history, which spans 93 seasons.
Wilson’s Pin Caps Final Dual at Coliseum
In the final dual at the NU Coliseum, redshirt freshman Austin Wilson (165) pinned Michigan State’s Nick Proctor en route to a 23-19 Husker victory on Friday, Feb. 1.
The Huskers trailed heading into the final match against the Spartans, 19-17, before Wilson’s fall in 3:45. He faced an 0-2 deficit in the second period against Proctor before a takedown that led to the pin, his second of the season. The Coliseum crowd of 1,742 erupted following the win.
The NU Coliseum has provided Husker teams with a distinct home advantage for more than 80 years. Located in the heart of campus right next to Memorial Stadium, the Coliseum provides the Huskers a thrilling match-day environment for all of their home matches. A perfect setting for college wrestling, the Coliseum was home to the National Duals from 1993 to 1997, and host to the 2009 Big 12 Championships when Nebraska claimed a share of the conference title. The Huskers will move into the Bob Devaney Sports Center starting next season.
Huskers in the Rankings
Nebraska has four wrestlers ranked in the top 10 of the latest InterMat poll, released on March 5. Sophomore Robert Kokesh achieved the highest ranking on the team. He is fourth at 174 pounds following a 2-0 performance at the NWCA National Duals on Feb. 17. Fellow sophomore James Green is No. 6 at 157 pounds after going 2-0 against Virginia and Cornell as well. Jake Sueflohn retained his No. 10 spot after defeating a pair of ranked opponents. Senior Josh Ihnen also retained his ranking from last week and is eighth at 184 pounds.
The WIN Magazine rankings were released on March 4 and feature the same four Huskers in its poll. Kokesh leads the way at fourth, but Green is not far behind at No. 6 in his weight class. Ihnen rounds out the top 10 at seventh, while Sueflohn is No. 11.
In the Amateur Wrestling News poll, released on Feb. 26, all four Huskers achieved top 10 rankings. Kokesh remained fourth and Green dropped one spot to sixth despite not competing since Feb. 17. Ihnen held on to the No. 7 ranking and Sueflohn stayed at No. 9.
As a team, Nebraska is ranked 12th in the InterMat poll, 14th by WIN Magazine and 12th in the NWCA/USA Today Coaches rankings.
Sophomores Leading the Way
Sophomores James Green (157), Robert Kokesh (174) and Jake Sueflohn (149) are three of Nebraska’s four nationally ranked starters in InterMat’s latest poll. The trio of sophomores are all in the top 10 of their respective weight classes and all qualified for the NCAA Championships last season.
Green is 18-3 on the season with an 11-2 mark in dual competition. Kokesh is 29-2 and holds a 15-2 dual record. Sueflohn has an 20-4 record in 2012-13, which includes an 11-3 mark in duals.
Fellow sophomores Skylar Galloway (141), Brandon Wilbourn (157) and Spencer Johnson (HWT) have also appeared in the NU lineup this season. Galloway is 7-5 with a 2-3 dual mark, while Wilbourn is 17-3 with a 3-1 dual record and Johnson is 6-5 with a 4-4 record in dual competition.
The sophomore class leads the team with 46 individual dual victories from six different starters. The seniors are 23-14 on the season with four different Huskers appearing in the lineup. The two juniors who have competed have compiled an 13-20 record. The redshirt freshmen have started two different wrestlers and have won nine matches. Three freshmen have started and earned one victory.
At the NWCA National Duals, the sophomores led the way with a perfect 9-0 record against Virginia and Cornell. The juniors went 2-2 and the seniors compiled a 2-3 mark, while the freshmen posted an 0-2 record. No redshirt freshmen wrestled at the NWCA National Duals.
Kokesh Earns Weekly Big Ten Honor, Jan. 2
Sophomore Robert Kokesh earned Big Ten Co-Wrestler-of-the-Week accolades with Northwestern’s Jason Welch, the conference announced on Wednesday, Jan. 2.
Kokesh took home the Midlands Invitational title at 174 pounds on Sunday, Dec. 30, winning six matches to extend his winning streak to 17 and improve his record to 22-1 on the season. The Wagner, S.D. native outscored his opponents 46-7 and added two pins to extend his number to eight on the season. He won two more of his matches by major decision and one by technical fall in addition to his pins.
Kokesh earned the 50th win of his collegiate career in the quarterfinals. He led the Nebraska wrestling team to a tie-for-15th place finish at the Midlands Invitational with the individual crown.
Kokesh was the last Husker to win Big Ten Wrestler of the Week when he took home the honor on Dec. 13, 2011.
Huskers Add Three Wrestlers for 2013-14
Nebraska Head Coach Mark Manning announced the signing of three wrestlers on Wednesday, Nov. 21, who will join the Huskers in 2013-14.
Anthony Abidin, Dix Hills, N.Y. (Nassau/Half Hollow Hills East/Calhoun) - 133/141
Abidin joins the Huskers after winning the NJCAA national title at 133 pounds as a freshman in 2012. Wrestling for Nassau Community College, Abidin finished the season ranked 12th following a 28-4 season before making a run to the championship match where he won a 7-4 decision over Iowa Central’s Brandon Wright. Abidin will redshirt this season at Nassau and have three years of eligibility left with Nebraska.
Before Nassau, Abidin wrestled at Half Hollow Hills East High School in Dix Hills, N.Y. As a senior, he went 36-1 en route to the state crown at 125 pounds. Abidin recorded 21 pins, five major decisions and four technical falls during 2011. Abidin also wrestled at Calhoun High School.
Colton McCrystal, Sergeant Bluff, Iowa (Sergeant Bluff-Luton) - 133
McCrystal comes to Nebraska with experience at Sergeant Bluff-Luton in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, where he won the Class 2A state title at 126 pounds as a junior last season. McCrystal compiled a 22-1 record during the season with 11 pins. He is currently ranked No. 20 in the InterMat national rankings at 132 pounds with a 143-8 mark entering his senior season. McCrystal earned a pair of runner-up finishes at the state championship as a freshman and sophomore, competing at 103 pounds in 2010 and 112 in 2011.
Pat Downey, Baltimore, Md. (Oviedo/North County/Loch Raven/Mount St. Joseph) - 184
Downey is a two-time Maryland state champion who is set to join the Huskers in 2013-14. He won his first state title as a sophomore at 160 pounds for Loch Raven, capping an undefeated 35-0 season. As a junior, he compiled a perfect 34-0 record en route a second consecutive state title, this time for North County at 171 pounds. As a freshman, Downey earned a sixth-place finish at 145 pounds while wrestling at Mount St. Joseph.
In addition, Downey won the silver medal at the 2012 FILA Junior World Championships in September. He has spent the last two years at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. He will have four years of eligibility at Nebraska.
Former Husker Burroughs Wins Gold Medal in Freestyle
Former Husker Jordan Burroughs won the gold medal at 74 kilograms (163 pounds) at the 2012 Olympics in London. Burroughs defeated Iran’s Sadegh Saeed Goudarzi 3-0 in the gold medal match.
Burroughs, a two-time NCAA champion at Nebraska, won four matches on Friday en route to becoming the first freestyle gold medalist in school history. Burroughs adds the gold medal to his list of accomplishments after Nebraska, which includes winning the 2011 FILA World Championships.
After taking a bye in the round of 32, Burroughs dominated Puerto Rico’s Francisco Soler Tanco. Burroughs won the first round 4-0 before taking the second round 6-0. With the win, he advanced to the quarterfinals to face Matthew Gentry of Canada.
In a much closer match, Burroughs survived the scare from Gentry. Burroughs posted a 2-1 victory in the first round before tying the second round and winning the match.
In the semifinals, Burroughs was challenged by Russia’s Denis Tsargush, but prevailed in the third round. The Sicklerville, N.J., native won the first round 3-1, but fell 2-0 in the second round. He bounced back in the third round, however, for a 2-1 win.
Burroughs then shut out Goudarzi in the gold medal match, winning 1-0, 1-0.
Burroughs, who won the 2011 Hodge Trophy for best collegiate wrestler, was coached by Nebraska Head Coach Mark Manning at the London Olympics.
Burroughs joins Dan Brand (1964), Bill Scherr (1988), Rulon Gardner (2000 and 2004) and Matt Lindland (2000) as the only former Huskers to earn Olympic medals. Brand and Scherr each took bronze in freestyle, Gardner won gold (2000) and bronze (2004) in Greco-Roman and Lindland earned silver.