Nebraska finished ninth at the NCAA Championships with 47 points, while three Huskers earned All-America honors.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Season Review: Huskers Finish Ninth in 2018

By NU Athletic Communications

Season Highlights

March 15-17: NCAA Championships: 9th place (47 points)

  • Fourth consecutive season with a top-10 NCAA team finish, and the second-consecutive season with a ninth-place finish
  • 22nd top-10 NCAA team finish in program history
  • Chad Red Jr., Tyler Berger (157) and Taylor Venz (184) each earned All-America honors, pushing Nebraska’s program total to 108
  • 30th season in a row that Nebraska has had at least one All-American
  • Seventh season in a row and 16th time in 18 seasons under Mark Manning that NU has had multiple All-Americans in a season
  • Tyler Berger became the 29th multi-time All-American in program history
  • Redshirt freshman Chad Red Jr. (141) and Taylor Venz (184) both made the podium for the first time, and became the first Nebraska freshman to win All-America awards since James Green in 2012
  • This season was the first in program history that multiple freshman won All-America honors
  • Isaiah White (165) made it to the Round of 12 (one win shy of All-America honors)
  • Penn State captured the team title with 141.5 points, while Ohio State (134.5) and Iowa (97) rounded out the top three
  • Tyler Berger (157) made his third NCAA appearance, while Colton McCrystal (149) made his second NCAA appearance
  • Sophomore Isaiah White (165) and redshirt freshman Chad Red Jr. (141), Taylor Venz (184) and Eric Schultz (197) made their first NCAA Division I Championships appearance
  • Freshman Jason Renteria (133) qualified for the NCAA Championships, but did not compete (weight)

Nebraska’s Three All-Americans:

  • Tyler Berger: third at 157 pounds
  • Taylor Venz: fourth at 184 pounds
  • Chad Red Jr.: seventh at 141 pounds

NCAA Qualifiers Breakdown By Class:

  • Seniors (1): Colton McCrystal
  • Juniors (1): Tyler Berger
  • Sophomores (1): Isaiah White
  • Redshirt Freshmen (3): Chad Red Jr., Eric Schultz, Taylor Venz
  • Freshmen (1): Jason Renteria

March 3-4: Big Ten Championships: 5th place (72.5 points)

  • Nebraska finished fifth as a team with 72.5 points behind Ohio State (164.5), Penn State (148), Michigan (118) and Iowa (90.5)
  • The fifth-place finish was Nebraska’s third-consecutive top-five finish at the Big Ten Championships
  • Nebraska has finished in the top-five at the Big Ten Championships in four out of the last five seasons
  • Seven Huskers placed in the top seven, while six Huskers earned automatic bids to the NCAA Championships based on their conference finish
  • Colton McCrystal (149), Tyler Berger (157) and Taylor Venz (184) each finished fourth
  • Jason Renteria (133) finished fifth
  • Chad Red Jr. (141), Eric Schultz (197 - NCAA at-large bid) and Isaiah White (165) each finished seventh

Nebraska Team Awards

Most Valuable Wrestler: Tyler Berger (157) and Taylor Venz (184)
Most Improved Wrestler: Chad Red Jr. (141)
Redshirt of the Year: Mikey Labriola (174)
Lifter of the Year: Taylor Venz (184)

Quick Notes - All Competitions

  • Three starters surpassed the 25-win plateau, with Taylor Venz (184) leading the team with 29 wins
  • Chad Red Jr. (141) and Taylor Venz (184) led all starters in pins this season with seven a piece
  • Taylor Venz (184) recorded the fastest NU fall of the season, a 12-second pin over Andrew Psomas of Columbia on Dec. 1
  • Taylor Venz (184) led all starters in technical falls this season with five
  • Taylor Venz (184) led all starters with seven major decisions this season
  • Taylor Venz (184) led all starters with 19 bonus-point wins this season

Quick Notes - Dual Season

  • Nebraska outscored its 14 dual opponents by a combined score of 308-213
  • Nebraska won 77 of 140 individual matches in dual competition
  • Four starters surpassed the 10-win plateau in duals, with Isaiah White (165) leading way with 11 wins in dual competition. Colton McCrystal (149), Taylor Venz (184) and Eric Schultz (197) each had 10 dual wins.
  • Isaiah White (165) scored the most dual points for Nebraska this season with 46, and recorded the most dual takedowns with 44, compared to just twice being taken down
  • Jason Renteria (133), Chad Red Jr. (141), Colton McCrystal (149), Tyler Berger (157), Isaiah White (165) and David Jensen (HWT) each recorded two pins in duals this season
  • Isaiah White (165) and Taylor Venz (184) each had two technical falls in duals this season
  • Colton McCrystal (149), Isaiah White (165) and Taylor Venz (184) each had three major decisions in duals this season
  • Nebraska faced nine teams, including two of the top-10, who were ranked in the final NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll (Feb. 20): #4 Michigan, #6 NC State, #14 Wyoming, #16 Illinois, #17 Northwestern, #19 Rutgers, #21 Purdue, #22 Wisconsin and #24 North Carolina
  • Nebraska welcomed 7,429 fans for seven duals at home this season, the 10th-highest total attendance number in a season since 1998-99

Berger Becomes a Two-Time All-American

Junior Tyler Berger wrapped up a third-place finish and his second All-America honor at the NCAA Championships. Berger defeated Big Ten nemesis Michael Kemerer of Iowa by injury default in the third-place match at 157 pounds.

Berger went 6-1 at the NCAA Championships. After dropping a quarterfinal match to top-seeded and eventual runner-up Hayden Hidlay of NC State, Berger defeated Paul Fox of Stanford in the Round of 12 to clinch All-America status. He then defeated 13th-seeded Luke Ziverberg of South Dakota State and seventh-seeded Micah Jordan of Ohio State in the consolation round before defeating Kemerer. Berger is the 29th Husker to win multiple All-America honors in program history.

Berger went 28-9 on the season, including 9-4 in duals, with a pair of pins and four major decisions. He finished fourth at the Big Ten Championships, in addition to a touranment title at the Daktronics Open and a fourth-place finish at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.

Venz Notches First All-America Honors with Fourth-Place Finish

Redshirt freshman Taylor Venz led Nebraska in wins and bonus-point wins in his first season in the NU varsity lineup at 184 pounds, and earned All-America honors after finishing fourth at the NCAA Championships. Venz’s fourth-place finish was NU’s highest finish by a freshman at the national meet since current Nebraska Associate Head Coach Bryan Snyder placed fourth at 157 pounds in 1999.

Venz won four matches by bonus points at the NCAA Championships, including a 11-3 major decision over fourth-seeded Pete Renda of NC State in the Blood Round to become the first NU freshman All-American, along with Chad Red Jr., since 2012. Venz also defeated ninth-seeded Max Dean of Cornell and sixth-seeded Zack Zavatsky of Virginia Tech in the consolation rounds before falling to Illinois’ Emery Parker by decision in the third-place match after suffering an ankle injury in the opening minute.

Venz went 29-9 on the season, including 10-4 in duals, with a team-leading 19 bonus-point wins, including seven pins, five technical falls and seven major decisions. He finished fourth at the Big Ten Championships, won the Daktronics Open title and finished third at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.

At the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, Venz burst on the scene with four pins on the first day of competition, including a pair in under 15 seconds and two more over top-eight opponents. Venz finished third at the tournament, as the previously unranked wrestler jumped to sixth in the next week’s InterMat rankings.

Half of Venz’s 10 wins in dual matches were by bonus points, as he had a pin, a technical fall and three major decisions.

Red Pins Way to All-America Status

Chad Red Jr. pinned two-time defending NCAA Champion Dean Heil of Oklahoma State in 2:22 in the NCAA Championships Blood Round to earn All-America status at 141 pounds. He also pinned Sa’Derian Perry of Eastern Michigan in the seventh-place match at the NCAA Championships.

Red, along with Taylor Venz, became Nebraska’s first freshman All-American since James Green in 2012. Red, who was unseeded, was one of just six unseeded All-Americans at the 2018 NCAA Championships, and Nebraska’s eighth unseeded All-American in program history.

Red went 26-11 on the season, including 9-5 in duals, and was tied for the team lead in pins with seven on the season. He also recorded a technical fall. Red finished seventh at the Big Ten Championships, and began the season with a tournament title at the Daktronics Open. He also finished fourth at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in December.

Seven Huskers Qualify for NCAA Championships

Seven Huskers qualified for the NCAA Championships, where Nebraska finished ninth as a team with 47 points. Three Huskers earned All-America honors, in Tyler Berger (157), Chad Red Jr. (141) and Taylor Venz. Six NU wrestlers (Berger, Red, Venz, Colton McCrystal, Isaiah White and Jason Renteria) qualified for the NCAA Championships as automatic bids based on their finish at the Big Ten Championships, while Eric Schultz was an at-large bid.

Isaiah White (165) fell one win shy of All-America status, as he dropped a decision to 16th-seeded Jon Jay Chavez of Cornell in the Round of 12. He advanced to the quarterfinals, but fell to eventual national champion Vincenzo Joseph of Penn State in the second sudden victory session.

Colton McCrystal (149) and Eric Schultz (197) both bowed out of the NCAA Championships in the consolation third round. McCrystal, making his second NCAA Championships appearance, went 2-2 at the national meet, winning a pair of matches in the consolation bracket before dropping a 5-2 decision to sixth-seeded Justin Oliver of Central Michigan. Schultz, making his first NCAA appearance, also won a pair of matches in the consolation bracket and defeated a seeded opponent in 13th-seeded Jeric Kasunic of American, but fell by a 3-2 decision to All-American Jacob Holschlag of Northern Iowa.

Every Husker that wrestled at the NCAA Championships won at least two matches, which was just the second time that has happened since the 2001 season (minimum five wrestlers competing). NU also accomplished that feat in 2016. Jason Renteria did not compete at the NCAA Championships (weight).

Seven Place at Big Ten Championships

Seven Huskers earned spots on the podium at the Big Ten Championships, held March 3-4 in East Lansing, Mich. Colton McCrystal (149), Tyler Berger (157) and Taylor Venz (184) were NU’s highest finishers, as each placed fourth at their respective weight classes. Jason Renteria (133), Nebraska’s lone semifinalist, defeated Scott DelVecchio of Rutgers in the fifth-place match.

Three Huskers finished seventh at the Big Ten Championships, as Chad Red Jr. (141), Isaiah White (165) and Eric Schultz (197) each won seventh-place matches.

Six Huskers, Renteria, Red, McCrystal, Berger, White and Venz, earned automatic qualification to the NCAA Championships based on their finish at the Big Ten Championships, while Schultz was announced as an at-large qualifier.

Nebraska placed fifth as a team at the Big Ten Championships with 72.5 team points.

Huskers Go 10-4 in Dual Season

Nebraska went 10-4 in the dual season, the eighth-consecutive season and 16th in 18 seasons under Head Coach Mark Manning reaching double-digit wins in duals. The Huskers defeated three teams that finished in the top-25 at the NCAA Championships (Wisconsin, Wyoming and Northwestern) as well as five teams in the final NWCA Coaches’ Poll (Wyoming, Northwestern, Rutgers, Purdue and Wisconsin).

The Huskers finished the season by winning seven of eight duals, including five in a row in January, knocking off three ranked teams in the process.

NU finished 7-2 in Big Ten duals, and tied for third in the conference with Michigan in the dual meet standings.

Nebraska Secures Win Number 700

Nebraska’s win over Wisconsin on Feb. 9 was it’s 700th win in dual meets all-time in program history. The Huskers now have a 701-555-29 (.557) record all-time in duals since 1910-11, following a win over Stanford on Feb. 16.

White Shows Consistency in First Season as a Husker

Sophomore Isaiah White (165) proved his place as one of the top wrestlers at a loaded weight class in his first season in a Nebraska singlet. White went 11-2 in duals, a win total that led Nebraska starters, and 25-8 overall, after reaching the Round of 12 at the NCAA Championships.

White also led NU starters in dual points (46) and dual takedowns (44) and was taken down just twice in dual competition. He outscored his 13 dual opponents by a combined score of 120-46, not including pins in his matches against Maryland and Indiana.

White had 11 wins by bonus points on the season, including two pins, four technical falls and five major decisions. He finished second at the Daktronics Open in November and defeated four ranked opponents to finish third at the Cliff Keen Invitational in December. His only losses are to top-12 opponents.

White won the NCAA Division II title at 165 pounds last season for Notre Dame College (Ohio) before transferring to Nebraska last summer. He went 28-2 overall as a freshman.

Experienced Pair Led the Way

Tyler Berger (157) and Colton McCrystal (149) were Nebraska’s two returning NCAA qualifiers from 2017, and led the Huskers to an 8-2 team record with a combined record of 16-3 with nine bonus-point wins in NU’s 10 duals in the 2018 calendar year.

Berger, a two-time All-American at 157 pounds, went 28-9 this season after finishing third at the NCAA Championships. He won the Daktronics Open and finished fourth at the Cliff Keen Invitational and the Big Ten Championships. He had 13 wins against ranked wrestlers this season.

McCrystal, who qualified for the NCAA Championships at 141 pounds last season, moved up to 149 this year and went 23-7 after going 2-2 at the NCAA Championships. He went 10-2 in duals this season, with bonus points in five of his last seven matches. His only two dual losses were to wrestlers that were ranked fourth at the time, Troy Heilmann of North Carolina and Ryan Deakin of Northwestern.

Redshirt Freshmen Stepped Up

Three redshirt freshmen, Chad Red Jr. (141), Taylor Venz (184) and Eric Schultz (197) became strong forces in Nebraska’s starting lineup this season, as each qualified for the NCAA Championships, with Red and Venz earning All-America honors.

Red was 26-11 on the season after taking seventh at the NCAA Championships and the Big Ten Championships. His seven pins in all competitions tied for the most among Nebraska starters. He started every dual at 141 pounds for Nebraska this season.

Venz led starters in wins (29) as well as every bonus-point win category. He took fourth at both the NCAA Championships and the Big Ten Championships.

Schultz was 20-11 on the year with five of his losses coming to top-10 opponents. He qualified for his first NCAA Championships, and went 2-2 with a win over 13th-seeded Jeric Kasunic of American. He did not place at the Cliff Keen Invitational, but gained valuable experience as he took top-ranked Kollin Moore of Ohio State right to the end in a 3-2 loss. He won his first match over a ranked opponent with an 8-6 decision over No. 11 Kevin Beazley of Michigan on Feb. 2.

Renteria a Force in Husker Lineup

True freshman Jason Renteria didn’t wrestle in a match in a Husker singlet until NU’s Jan. 7 contest against Maryland, but racked up three bonus-point wins on the way to an 8-4 record since. The Huskers hadn’t won a match at 133 pounds through the first five duals of the year, but Renteria scored 22 dual points in seven appearances this season, and was the only Husker to wrestle at 133 to record a dual victory.

Renteria scored a pin in 1:48 over Danny Bertoni of Maryland in his first varsity match on Jan. 7, before he took down his first ranked opponent in a 15-5 major decision over No. 19 Colin Valdiviez of Northwestern on Jan. 19. He scored another win over a ranked opponent in a 14-11 decision over returning NCAA qualifier and 17th-ranked Scott DelVecchio of Rutgers on Jan. 21. He pinned Logan Griffin of Michigan State in 1:29 on Feb. 4.

Renteria was Nebraska’s lone semifinalist at the Big Ten Championships, as he finished fifth at the conference meet. He qualified for the NCAA Championships, but did not compete (weight).

New Contributors Record First Dual Wins

With six starters, including three All-Americans, lost to graduation from a season ago, Nebraska’s starting lineup was dramatically different this season than it was in 2017.

Twelve Huskers saw their first dual action of their careers in a Nebraska singlet this season, as Kris Williams (125), Mitchell Maginnis (125), Zak Hensley (133), Brian Peska (133), Jason Renteria (133), Chad Red Jr. (141), Johnny Blankenship (165), Isaiah White (165), Beau Breske (174), Taylor Venz (184), Eric Schultz (197) and Patrick Grayson (HWT) were each inserted into Nebraska’s dual lineup for the first time this season.

Ten Huskers picked up their first dual wins of their careers this season, as Williams, White and Schultz each won by decision against Wyoming, while Venz and David Jensen (HWT) both won by technical falls in the Wyoming dual. Breske won his first dual match against North Carolina, while Maginnis and Renteria both earned their first dual wins against Maryland. Grayson was the latest Husker to pick up his first varsity win, as he earned a win in the Rutgers dual.

Huskers Sign Three Wrestlers

Nebraska announced the addition of four wrestlers for next season in November, two of which who will be joining the Huskers next season

  • Jake Silverstein - Smithtown, N.Y. (Hauppauge); New York state champion; three-time New York state finalist
  • Alex Thomsen - Neola, Iowa (Underwood); four-time Iowa state champion
  • Brock Hardy - Brigham City, Utah (Box Elder); four-time Utah state champion, will join Huskers in 2020 after Mormon Church mission

Huskers Work Through Tough Schedule

Nebraska faced eight teams in dual action in 2017-18 that finished in the top 25 at the NCAA Championships this season: Michigan (T-4th), NC State (T-4th), Rutgers (11th), Illinois (13th), Wisconsin (T-17th), Wyoming (T-17th), North Carolina (20th) and Northwestern (24th).

In addition, NU faced nine teams on the slate ranked in the final USA Today/NWCA Coaches Poll: Michigan (4th), NC State (6th), Wyoming (14th), Illinois (16th), Northwestern (17th), Rutgers (18th), Purdue (21st), Wisconsin (22nd) and North Carolina (24th).

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