The Huskers host No. 5 Illinois on Friday night.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers Face Illini on Friday Night

By NU Athletic Communications
No. 5 Illinois (5-0, 1-0) vs. No. 14 Nebraska (8-3, 2-2)
NU Coliseum • Lincoln, Neb. • Friday, Jan. 18 • 7 p.m.
Series History: NU trails, 2-3-0
Last Meeting: NU won, 20-17, on Jan. 11, 2003, in Hampton, Va.
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The No. 14 Nebraska wrestling team returns to the NU Coliseum for its first home match in over a month against No. 5 Illinois on Friday night at 7 p.m. 

The dual will be available on Big Ten Digital Network at the link provided above. A subscription to BTDN is required to view the match.

Prior to Friday night’s dual, the NU Coliseum will host a high school showdown between Aurora and Grand Island at 5 p.m. In addition, the first 100 students to arrive to the dual will receive a free Husker Wrestling “Sweater Vest” T-shirt. All UNL students get into the match for free with NU ID.

The Huskers are 8-3 on the season following two road victories against ranked opponents last weekend. NU earned its first Big Ten dual win of the season by defeating No. 11 Michigan, 20-19, on Friday night in Ann Arbor, Mich. Nebraska’s momentum carried into the next night as it took down No. 18 Northwestern, 25-12, in Evanston, Ill. Nebraska is 2-2 in Big Ten duals and improved to 4-0 in true road duals.

The Huskers and Fighting Illini have faced off five times in their histories, with Illinois holding a 3-2-0 advantage. The Huskers won the most recent meeting with the Illini, 20-17, on Jan. 11, 2003, in Hampton, Va.

At 165 pounds, Nebraska will start either Austin Wilson or Tyler Koehn. Wilson, a redshirt freshman, has started nine of NU’s 11 duals but suffered a pair of losses by pin last weekend. Koehn, a senior, has appeared in the NU lineup once this season. He posted a 13-2 major decision over Maryland’s Anthony Guidice on Dec. 16 at the Grapple at the Garden.

The Huskers will keep the same starters as last weekend in the other nine weight classes. Senior Ridge Kiley earned a spot in the latest InterMat rankings after a 2-0 weekend. Kiley is 19th at 141 pounds and will face No. 3 BJ Futrell of Illinois on Friday night.

Nationally ranked Huskers Robert Kokesh (174), James Green (157), Josh Ihnen (184) and Jake Sueflohn (149) will start against the Illini. Kokesh owns a 24-1 record with a 10-1 dual mark this season. He is fourth at 174 pounds. Green is also No. 4 in his weight class. After not competing for over a month, Green won both his matches over the weekend to improve to 14-2. He is 7-0 in duals, which includes a 9-8 decision over previously unbeaten Jason Welch of Northwestern on Saturday night. Ihnen is eighth at 184 pounds following a pair of technical falls against the Wolverines and Wildcats. He has the second-most dual wins on the season with nine. Sueflohn is 12th at 149 pounds. The sophomore is 15-3 on the year with six dual victories.

Junior Shawn Nagel will look to continue his momentum from a dominating weekend at 133 pounds. Nagel recorded his first pin of the season against No. 11 Michigan when NU needed it most and followed that up with a major decision the following night in Evanston.
Sophomore Spencer Johnson saw his first action of the season at heavyweight and went 1-1 over the weekend. Freshman Eric Coufal (125) and junior Caleb Kolb (197) will look to improve on narrow defeats to the Wolverines and Wildcats.

Last Time Out: Huskers Dominate in Win Over No. 18 Wildcats
No. 17 Nebraska completed a weekend sweep of ranked opponents by defeating No. 18 Northwestern, 25-12, at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Saturday, Jan. 12.

The Huskers improve to 8-3 with the win and 2-2 in Big Ten duals. Nebraska is 4-0 on the road this season. The Wildcats drop to 4-4 on the season with an 0-3 record in the Big Ten.

No. 4 Robert Kokesh (174) opened the match with a major decision over No. 9 Lee Munster, 11-3. Kokesh, a sophomore, earned his 10th dual victory of the season and 24th overall win of the 2012-13 campaign. He extends his win streak to 19 while earning his sixth major decision and ninth victory over a ranked opponent.

Senior Josh Ihnen, who is ranked eighth by InterMat, picked up his second technical fall of the weekend with a 16-0 win over Northwestern’s Marcus Shrewsbury at 184 pounds. The victory gave Nebraska an early 9-0 lead as Ihnen picked up his 17th win of the season and improved to 9-2 in dual competition.

At 197 pounds, the Huskers suffered their first loss of the dual as Caleb Kolb fell by a 6-1 decision to Alex Polizzi. Nebraska bounced back at heavyweight as Spencer Johnson picked up his first victory of the season. Johnson, a sophomore, won a 6-0 decision over the Wildcats’ Jacob Berkowitz. At 125 pounds, Nebraska’s Eric Coufal lost a 6-2 decision to No. 18 Dominick Malone, cutting the Husker lead to 12-6.

The Huskers responded by winning the next four matches, starting at 133 pounds. Junior Shawn Nagel capped an impressive weekend with a 14-6 major decision over Garrison White. Nagel, who provided a crucial pin in Friday night’s win over Michigan, won his 12th match of the season and improved to 6-5 in duals.

Ridge Kiley (141), Jake Sueflohn (149) and James Green (157) added decisions to extend the Huskers’ lead to 25-6. Kiley won a 4-3 decision over Pat Greco to improve to 11-6 on the season. Sueflohn, who lost on Friday night, shut out Northwestern’s Dylan Marriott, 5-0, for his 15th win of the season.

Green handed No. 2 Jason Welch his first loss of the season in a 9-8 decision. Green, a sophomore, capped a 2-0 weekend to improve to 7-0 in duals this season and 14-2 overall. 

In the final match of the night, Austin Wilson (165) was pinned by No. 13 Pierce Harger in 1:56.

Scouting the Illinois Fighting Illini
No. 5 Illinois is 5-0 on the season with a 1-0 record in Big Ten duals. The Fighting Illini opened their 2012-13 season at the Journeyman Duals in Troy, N.Y. and defeated all three opponents. Illinois took down Princeton, 46-0, before prevailing over Maryland, 31-6, and Binghamton, 39-10. Following a first-place finish at the 50th Ken Kraft Midlands Invitational, the Illini traveled to Tennessee, where they posted a 29-10 victory over Chattanooga. Illinois hosted Purdue in its first Big Ten dual last weekend and defeated the Boilermakers, 29-10.

Illinois has seven wrestlers ranked in the latest InterMat poll, which was released on Jan. 15. Senior BJ Futrell (141) is the highest-ranked Illini at third in the country with a 19-1 record on the season. Sophomore Jesse Delgado (125) is the other team member in the top five at fifth. He is 11-2 on the season. Conrad Polz (165) and Jordan Blanton (174) round out the top 10 for Illinois. Both wrestlers are eighth in their respective weight classes. Polz is 13-3 and Blanton is 16-2. Mario Gonzalez (197) and Daryl Thomas (133) are both 11th in their weight classes. Junior Tony Dallago (184) is 18th with a 13-4 record.

The Fighting Illini are coached by Jim Heffernan, who is in his fourth year as head coach. Heffernan has won 35 matches in his time at Illinois.

Huskers in the Rankings
Nebraska has five wrestlers ranked in the latest InterMat poll, released on Jan. 15. Sophomores Robert Kokesh and James Green each achieved the highest ranking on the team in their respective weight classes. Kokesh is fourth at 174 pounds and Green is fourth at 157. Josh Ihnen rounds out the Huskers in the top 10. The senior is No. 8 at 184 pounds after two technical falls over the weekend against Michigan and Northwestern. Sophomore Jake Sueflohn dropped out of the top 10 at 149 pounds following a 1-1 weekend and is now 12th. Senior Ridge Kiley is 19th at 141 pounds after a pair of decisions against the Wolverines and Wildcats.

The WIN Magazine rankings were released on Jan. 14 and feature four Huskers in its top 15. Kokesh leads the way at third, but Green is not far behind at fifth in his weight class. Ihnen is seventh and Sueflohn is 15th.

In the Amateur Wrestling News poll, released on Jan. 15, three Huskers are in the top 10 and two others are in the top 20. Green jumped to No. 2 in the country and Kokesh retained his No. 3 ranking. Ihnen is the third wrestler in the top 10 at seventh. Sueflohn earned the No. 13 ranking and Kiley is 19th.

As a team, Nebraska is ranked in the top 15 of the InterMat, WIN Magazine and NWCA/USA Today Coaches rankings. The Huskers are 13th in the InterMat poll, 13th in WIN Magazine and 14th in the NWCA poll.

Kokesh Earns Weekly Big Ten Honor
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 Saturday’s quarterfinals and now has 52 as a Husker. 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.

Nagel Impressive Over Weekend at 133
Junior Shawn Nagel produced two clutch performances over the weekend on the road against No. 11 Michigan and No. 18 Northwestern at 133 pounds. Facing a 16-11 deficit to the Wolverines with three matches to go on Friday night, Nagel delivered by pinning Rossi Bruno in 2:14. The pin marked Nagel’s first of the season and 11th of his career as he provided the momentum to close out the match, 20-19.

On Saturday night against the Wildcats, Nagel earned his second major decision of the season in a 14-6 route of Garrison White. The Huskers dominated in a 25-12 victory over Northwestern.

Nagel improved to 12-9 on the season with the two victories. He is 6-5 in dual competition.

Sophomores Showing Leadership
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 15 of their respective weight classes and all qualified for the NCAA Championships last season.

Green is 14-2 on the season with a 7-0 mark in dual competition after taking down previously unbeaten Jason Welch of Northwestern, 9-8, on Saturday night. Kokesh is 24-1 and leads all starters with eight pins this season. He is 10-1 in duals and took home the Midlands Invitational title on Dec. 30. Sueflohn has a 15-3 record in 2012-13, which includes a 6-2 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 11-3 with a 2-1 dual record and Johnson is 1-1 with both matches in dual competition.

The sophomore class leads the team with 28 individual dual victories from six different starters. The seniors are 16-6 on the season with four different Huskers appearing in the lineup. The two juniors who have competed have compiled a 10-12 record. The redshirt freshmen have started two different wrestlers and have won eight matches. Three freshman have started and earned a 1-11 record.

Wilson Stepping Up at 165
Redshirt freshman Austin Wilson has started nine of Nebraska’s 11 duals this season and could appear in the lineup this weekend against Illinois at 165 pounds.

Wilson has stepped up in one of the most competitive weight classes on the team with a 6-3 dual mark. All three of his dual losses came against ranked conference opponents. Wilson is 16-8 on the season, which includes a 4-2 showing at the Midlands Invitational, Dec. 29-30. 

Senior Tyler Koehn and sophomore Brandon Wilbourn have also started for the Huskers at 165 this season. Koehn is 4-2 with a 1-0 mark in dual competition, while Wilbourn is 11-3 with a 2-1 dual mark. Wilbourn has also competed at 157 this season.

Wilson or Koehn will start for the Huskers at 165 on Friday night against Illinois.

Galloway, Kiley Battling at 141
Sophomore Skylar Galloway and senior Ridge Kiley have been competing for the starting position at 141 pounds this season with Kiley starting in eight duals and Galloway starting in five duals.

Galloway owns a 2-3 record in duals with victories against Wyoming’s Kyle Komata and South Dakota State’s Ben Gillette. He is 7-5 on the season with a first-place showing at the Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open on Nov. 4. 

Kiley is 6-2 in duals this season with an 11-6 record overall. He finished seventh at the Cliff Keen Invitational, Nov. 30-Dec. 1.

Both wrestlers went 1-2 at the Midlands Invitational, Dec. 29-30. Kiley will start this weekend against Illinois.

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.

Huskers Face Challenging Schedule
Nebraska faces a challenging schedule this season, with nine matches against teams that are currently ranked in the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll, released on Jan. 15.

The Huskers have already wrestled against No. 3 Minnesota, No. 15 Wyoming, No. 18 Michigan, No. 19 Wisconsin, No. 21 Northwestern and No. 23 Maryland. 

Last weekend Nebraska took down Michigan, 20-19, and Northwestern, 25-12, on the road. The Huskers also defeated Wyoming, 22-15, on Nov. 11 in Laramie Wyo. Nebraska fell to Minnesota, 27-7, Wisconsin, 19-17, and Maryland, 18-17.

The Huskers will travel to face two of the top five teams in the country and will host No. 5 Illinois on Friday. On Jan. 27, the Huskers will wrestle No. 1 Penn State on the road before traveling to Iowa, Feb. 10, to face the No. 4 Hawkeyes.

On March 9-10, Nebraska will make its second appearance in the Big Ten Championships in Champaign, Ill. Last season the Huskers produced four top-five finishers. The 2012-13 season concludes March 21-23 at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. Last year Nebraska finished 21st with 28 points. James Green (157) and  Josh Ihnen (184) earned All-America honors, as eight Huskers qualified for the 2012 NCAA Championships.

BTDN to Feature Huskers Eight Times
Nebraska will be featured eight times on the Big Ten Digital Network and once on Big Ten Network in 2012-13. Upcoming home matches on BTDN include Friday’s showdown against Illinois and the Feb. 1 dual against Michigan State. Road matches against Penn State (Jan. 27) and Iowa (Feb. 10) will also be streamed through BTDN. 

The Huskers were featured on BTDN for their home matches against Minnesota, Arizona State and Wisconsin as well as their road match against Northwestern. Nebraska was televised on Big Ten Network for its 20-19 victory over Michigan on Friday night. The second day of the Big Ten Championships, March 10, will also be televised on BTN.

Throughout the season, go to the BTN/BTN2Go/BTDN Olympic Sports TV schedule page for the most up-to-date information on the BTN and BTDN wrestling schedules.

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.


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