The Huskers are seeking their 10th win of the season.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Huskers, Spartans To Grapple on Friday Night

By NU Athletic Communications
Michigan State (4-9, 0-5) vs. No. 13 Nebraska (9-4, 3-3)
NU Coliseum • Lincoln, Neb. • Friday, Feb. 1 • 7 p.m.
Series History: Nebraska trails, 4-8-0
Last Meeting: Nebraska won, 27-8, on Jan. 27, 2012, in East Lansing, Mich.
Video (subscription required):
*Final Husker Dual at NU Coliseum
*Senior Night
*After five matches, Tom Osborne and gold medalist Jordan Burroughs will be honored

The No. 13 Nebraska wrestling team returns home to face Michigan State in the final dual at NU Coliseum on Friday night at 7 p.m. 

The match will be available online through the Big Ten Digital Network. BTDN requires a username and password to view its events and a link to the website is provided above. Twitter updates will also be available throughout the meet by following @HuskerWrestling.

Prior to the dual, the doors will open for Youth Wrestling Night at 5:30 p.m. At 6 p.m., Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs will hold a Q&A with the youth wrestlers. Seniors Ridge Kiley, Michael Klinginsmith, Ross Grande, Josh Ihnen and Tyler Koehn will be honored as part of Senior Night before the match as well. Athletic Director Emeritus Tom Osborne will serve as the guest coach for Nebraska and will be honored, along with Burroughs, between the fifth and sixth matches.

In their most recent outing, the Huskers traveled to No. 1 Penn State on Sunday and fell by a 33-9 margin. With the loss, Nebraska fell to 9-4 on the season with a 3-3 mark in the Big Ten. Sophomore Jake Sueflohn (149) pinned previously unbeaten Andrew Alton, who was third in the country, in 5:33. Fellow sophomore Robert Kokesh (174) was the other Husker to win on Sunday and did so with a 10-7 decision over Matt Brown.

The Huskers and Spartans will face off on Friday night for the 13th time in their histories. Nebraska trails in the all-time series, 4-8-0, despite winning the most recent meeting. The Huskers defeated Michigan State, 27-8, on Jan. 27, 2012, in East Lansing, Mich. This season, the Spartans are 4-9 with an 0-5 record in Big Ten duals.

Nebraska will use the same lineup against Michigan State as it did at Penn State. Sueflohn (149) and Kokesh (174) will make the starts at their respective weight classes. Fellow sophomores James Green (157) and Spencer Johnson (HWT) will look to bounce back following narrow decision losses to ranked opponents. 

Seniors Josh Ihnen (184), Ridge Kiley (141) and Tyler Koehn (165) are all expected to start against the Spartans. Ihnen will be making his 14th dual start of the season, while Kiley will be making his 11th and Koehn his fourth.

Juniors Shawn Nagel (133) and Caleb Kolb (197) will represent their respective weight classes on Friday night. Freshman Eric Coufal will get the start at 125 pounds for Nebraska.

Check for a recap following the match against Michigan State.

Last Time Out: Huskers Come Up Short at Penn State
Sophomores Jake Sueflohn (149) and Robert Kokesh (174) each upset top-three opponents but it wasn’t enough as the No. 13 Nebraska wrestling team fell to No. 1 Penn State, 33-9, on Sunday, Jan. 27 at Rec Hall.

The Huskers move to 9-4 on the season following the loss. NU is now 3-3 in Big Ten duals as it lost its first true road match of the 2012-13 campaign. The Nittany Lions improve to 8-0 with a 5-0 mark in the Big Ten.

Following a forfeit at 125 pounds, Nebraska’s Shawn Nagel faced off with Penn State’s Jordan Conaway at 133 pounds. Nagel, a junior, had an early takedown but trailed the rest of the way in a 14-5 major decision loss. Nagel falls to 12-11 on the season and suffers his seventh dual loss.

Senior Ridge Kiley and Bryan Pearsall battled through a scoreless first two periods at 141 pounds. In the third period, Pearsall earned an escape and used a riding time point en route to a 2-0 decision. The victory gave Penn State an early 13-0 lead. Kiley, the 19th-ranked wrestler by InterMat, suffered his seventh loss of the season and moves to 7-3 in duals.

Sueflohn picked up Nebraska’s first win of the dual as he pinned No. 3 Andrew Alton in 5:33 at 149 pounds. Alton took an early 4-0 against Sueflohn but the Husker sophomore used a third-period reversal for a 6-5 lead before the pin. Alton suffered his first loss of the season after a 17-0 start. Sueflohn improves to 17-3 on the season with an 8-2 record in duals.

No. 4 James Green looked to keep the momentum going for Nebraska at 157 pounds but fell by a 3-1 decision against No. 6 Dylan Alton. Following a scoreless first period, Alton escaped to take a narrow 1-0 lead before a late takedown in the third to clinch the victory. Green suffered his first loss in dual competition and falls to 15-2 overall.

At 165 pounds, senior Tyler Koehn started for the Huskers against No. 2 David Taylor. Koehn trailed throughout in a 16-1 technical fall loss that gave Penn State a 21-6 lead.

No. 4 Kokesh responded at 174 pounds with a 10-7 decision over No. 3 Matt Brown to cut the lead to 21-9. Kokesh extends his winning streak to 21 as he improves to 26-1 on the season with a 12-1 dual mark.

The Huskers suffered losses at 184, 197 and heavyweight to contribute to the 33-9 final score. Senior Josh Ihnen (184) took an early lead against No. 1 Ed Ruth but fell by an 18-3 technical fall. Caleb Kolb (197) fell to No. 3 Quentin Wright by a 10-2 major decision before Spencer Johnson (HWT) lost a 7-4 decision in the final match of the afternoon against No. 17 Jon Gingrich.

Scouting the Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State is 4-9 on the season with an 0-5 record in Big Ten duals. The Spartans opened their season with a 25-11 victory in Ypsilanti, Mich., over Eastern Michigan on Nov. 16. MSU’s other wins are over Northern Illinois, 25-9, on the road and against Bucknell and Lindsey Wilson at home. Michigan State is currently on a six-match losing streak that dates back to Jan. 6. The Spartans also competed at the Reno Tournament of Champions, where they finished third with 107.5 points.

Michigan State is led by Michael McClure, who is No. 7 at heavyweight in the InterMat poll. The junior is the only ranked Spartan and has a 25-2 record this season. Dan Osterman (149) is the only senior in the lineup this weekend and has a 16-7 record in 2012-13. John Rizqallah (184), along with McClure, are the only Spartans to have 20 wins this season. Rizqallah, a sophomore, is 21-6 this year.

Michigan State is coached by Tom Minkel, who is in his 22nd year as head coach. He holds a 158-199-4 record in his time with the Spartans. Minkel’s career mark is 173-217-4 in over 23 years as head coach.

Kokesh at 21 Straight Wins and Counting
Sophomore Robert Kokesh (174) has won 21 consecutive matches heading into Friday night’s dual against Michigan State. In his seven most recent matches, Kokesh has faced top-20 opponents, including No. 3 Matt Brown of Penn State, who he took down in a 10-7 decision. Kokesh has defeated four additional ranked opponents during the stretch.

Kokesh captured the Midlands Invitational title and Cliff Keen Invitational crown during his run. His last loss came on Nov. 16 against Logan Storley of Minnesota. 

Kokesh is 26-1 on the season with a 12-1 record in duals. He leads all starters with eight pins. The Wagner, S.D. native also has four technical falls and six major decisions. Kokesh was named Big Ten Co-Wrestler of the Week on Jan. 2. 

Kiley Emerging at 141
Senior Ridge Kiley has started the last eight duals at 141 pounds after sophomore Skylar Galloway started four of the first five. Kiley appeared in the NU lineup for the opening match of the season against Northern Colorado on Nov. 10. He also wrestled at 149 pounds against Wyoming on Nov. 11.

Kiley is 12-7 on the season with a 7-3 mark in dual competition. He holds a 3-4 record against ranked opponents and has appeared in InterMat’s top 20 several times this season. Kiley posted a seventh-place finish at the Cliff Keen Invitational, Nov. 30-Dec. 1, compiling a 4-2 record in the process. 

Galloway is 7-5 with a 2-3 dual record. Kiley is expected to start at 141 pounds on Friday night against Michigan State.

Johnson Stepping In at Heavyweight
Sophomore Spencer Johnson moved up from 197 pounds to heavyweight this season and has competed for the Huskers in their last four duals. Johnson is 2-2 with all four matches in dual competition this season since taking over for Donny Longendyke. 

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. Last Sunday, Johnson fell by a 7-4 decision to No. 17 Jon Gingrich of Penn State.

Longendyke was 6-11 on the season with a 2-7 record in duals. Johnson will start against Michigan State on Friday night.

Manning Closing In On 200 Career Victories
Nebraska Head Coach Mark Manning is four wins shy of the 200th of his career. Manning, who is in his 16th year as head coach, holds a 196-93-5 record. He has spent over 12 seasons with Nebraska, where he holds a 173-69-3 record. Prior to coaching the Huskers, Manning spent three seasons with Northern Iowa, compiling a 23-24-2 record with the Panthers. 

The Huskers have four duals remaining in the 2012-13 season, including Friday night’s matchup with Michigan State.

Ihnen Climbing Up Wins List
Senior Josh Ihnen (184) is nine wins shy of the 100th of his career at Nebraska. Ihnen holds a 91-36 record in more than three years with the Huskers. He is 49-21 in dual competition. This season Ihnen is 18-3 overall with first-place showings at the Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open and the Cliff Keen Invitational. He has a 9-3 record in duals and a 6-3 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.
Huskers in the Rankings
Nebraska has four wrestlers ranked in the top 10 of the latest InterMat poll, released on Jan. 29. Sophomore Robert Kokesh achieved the highest ranking on the team. He is third at 174 pounds following a 10-7 decision over then-No. 3 Matt Brown of Penn State. Fellow sophomore James Green is No. 6 at 157 pounds after his 3-1 loss to then-No. 6 Dylan Alton of Penn State. Jake Sueflohn climbed five spots to No. 7 at 149 pounds following his pin of previously unbeaten Andrew Alton. Senior Josh Ihnen is eighth at 184 pounds. He lost a technical fall to No. 1 Ed Ruth on Sunday afternoon. 

The WIN Magazine rankings were released on Jan. 28 and feature the same four Huskers in its poll. Kokesh leads the way at third, 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 Jan. 29, all four Huskers achieved top eight rankings. Kokesh retained his No. 3 ranking from last week. Green dropped to No. 6 in the rankings after being second last week. Ihnen held on to the No. 7 ranking and Sueflohn surged to No. 8 following last week’s No. 13 ranking.

As a team, Nebraska is ranked in the top 15 of the InterMat, WIN Magazine and NWCA/USA Today Coaches rankings. The Huskers are 12th in the InterMat poll, 13th in WIN Magazine and 13th 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.

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 10 of their respective weight classes and all qualified for the NCAA Championships last season.

Green is 15-2 on the season with an 8-1 mark in dual competition after his first loss of the season last Sunday. Kokesh is 26-1 and leads all starters with eight pins this season. He is 12-1 in duals and has won 21 consecutive matches. Sueflohn has a 17-3 record in 2012-13, which includes an 8-2 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 2-2 with all four matches in dual competition.

The sophomore class leads the team with 34 individual dual victories from six different starters. The seniors are 18-10 on the season with four different Huskers appearing in the lineup. The two juniors who have competed have compiled a 10-16 record. The redshirt freshmen have started two different wrestlers and have won eight matches. Three freshmen have started and earned one victory.

Against the Nittany Lions, the sophomores led the way with a 2-2 record. The seniors compiled an 0-3 record, while the juniors went 0-2. The Huskers did not start any freshmen or redshirt freshmen at Penn State. NU forfeited its match at 125 pounds.

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 has faced a rigorous schedule this season with four duals remaining as well as the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Championships. The Huskers have wrestled against six teams that are currently ranked in the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll, released on Jan. 29. Nebraska still has a showdown against No. 3 Iowa on Sunday, Feb. 10 in Iowa City at 2 p.m.

NU has already wrestled against No. 1 Penn State, No. 4 Minnesota, No. 6 Illinois, No. 17 Michigan, No. 19 Wisconsin and No. 21 Wyoming. The Huskers have victories over the Fighting Illini, Wolverines and Cowboys, but have losses against the Nittany Lions, Golden Gophers and Badgers.

In addition, Maryland and Northwestern were ranked when Nebraska faced them earlier this season. NU lost to then-No. 18 Maryland on Dec. 16 at the Grapple at the Garden, but took down then-No. 18 Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., on Jan. 12.

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 two more times on Big Ten Digital Network in 2012-13, including Friday night’s showdown with Michigan State. The Huskers will also be on BTDN for their road dual on Feb. 10 against Iowa.

The Huskers were featured on BTDN for their home matches against Minnesota, Arizona State, Wisconsin and Illinois as well as their road matches against Northwestern and Penn State. 

Nebraska was televised on Big Ten Network for its 20-19 victory over Michigan on Jan. 11. 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.


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