Photo by Isabel Thalken/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Newcomers, Veterans Shine at Wrestle-Offs

By NU Athletic Communications

Lincoln, Neb. -- The Nebraska wrestling team held its annual Intrasquad Wrestle-Offs on Thursday evening. For the first time, the event took place inside the Hendricks Training Complex. Fans packed both the bleachers and the temporary seating set up for the event as they got their first look at the 2018-19 Huskers.

"We wanted to make a nice environment here in the wrestling room for the fans," Nebraska Wrestling Head Coach Mark Manning said. "We had a lot of great action tonight. It's hard to wrestle teammates, but we had several weight classes where we needed to figure out who was going to step up and take the starting spot. I saw guys working really hard out there tonight and showing a lot of composure."

This year’s wrestle-offs featured bouts at eight different weight classes, with two bouts each at both 133 and 141 pounds.

To start off the action at 133 pounds, Brian Peska defeated Tucker Sjomeling by decision, 6-5. In the second 133-pound bout,  redshirt freshman Christian Miller won in a decision over true freshman Jevon Parrish, 7-0. In a battle of the 133 pound winners, Miller won by decision, 3-1.

Redshirt junior Jordan Shearer won by decision against Collin Purinton, 10-4. Purinton went 1-2 in dual action last year, while Shearer will have the opportunity to compete in his first dual this season.

Two-time All-American Tyler Berger put on a show for the fans in his match at 157 pounds, winning by major decision, 15-1 over true freshman Peyton Robb, a three-time state champion at 160 pounds from Owatonna, Minn. Eric Schultz, one of Nebraska’s five returning NCAA qualifiers, won his bout at 197 pounds in a dominating performance. He won by technical fall, 26-10 over Anthony Gaona, a freshman from Olathe, Kan.

Coach Manning commented on the impressive efforts from Berger and Schultz, two of his returning NCAA qualifiers from last season.

"Those two wrestled probably as well as I have ever seen them wrestle tonight," Manning said. "Tyler Berger is an elite wrestler, and Schultz continues to show his improvement every time he gets out there. For our young guys that had to go up against those two tonight, there's no shame in getting beat. They'll take their lumps but this is only going to make them better."

Redshirt sophomore Chad Red Jr., the second of the three returning All-Americans for NU, won in a decision over Kyle Ruettiger, 6-1, at 141 pounds.

Johnny Blankenship defeated Dalton Peters by decision, 2-1, in one of the most hotly contested bouts of the night. Redshirt freshman Labriola followed up Blankenship's victory with a win of his own. He won by major decision over Cade Svoboda, a redshirt sophomore from Ord, Neb. Labriola is ranked as the No. 11 wrestler in the country at 174 pounds by both FloWrestling and OpenMat’s rankings.

In the heavyweight bout, Patrick Grayson battled Christian Lance, a junior who transferred from Division II Fort Hays State in the offseason. After two overtime periods, Lance won by decision, 3-3, based on riding time.

Taylor Venz, the last of the three returning All-Americans for Nebraska, did not compete tonight as he will be competing in the NWCA All-Star Classic in Denver, Colo. tomorrow night. Zeke Moisey (125), a redshirt senior who transfered from West Virginia in the offseason, sat out tonight with an injury but is expected to make his Husker debut next weekend. Moisey was a two-time NCAA Championships qualifier at WVU.

Wrestle-Offs Results:

  1. (133a.): Brian Peska dec. Tucker Sjomeling, 6-5.
  2. (133b.): Christian Miller dec. Jevon Parrish, 7-0.
  3. (141a.): Alex Thomsen tb-1 Aris Shino, 5-3.
  4. (141b.): Chad Red Jr. dec. Kyle Ruettiger, 6-1.
  5. (149): Jordan Shearer dec. Collin Purinton, 10-4
  6. (157): Tyler Berger major dec. Peyton Robb, 15-1
  7. (165): Johnny Blankenship tb-2 Dalton Peters, 2-1
  8. (174): Mikey Labriola major dec. Cade Svoboda, 15-4
  9. (197): Eric Schultz tech. fall Anthony Gaona, 26-10
  10. (285): Christian Lance RT Patrick Grayson, 3-3.
  11. (133 Final) Christian Miller dec. Brian Peska, 3-1

Next Up:

The Huskers travel to Brookings, S.D. to compete at the Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open on Sunday, Nov. 4, to begin the 2018-19 season. The first home dual is set for Friday, Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. against Wisconsin, with coverage by the Big Ten Network.

Attendance: 262


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