Evanston, Ill. – Eric Montoya (133), TJ Dudley (184) and Aaron Studebaker (197) each won individual championships to lead the No. 7 Nebraska wrestling team to a second-place finish Friday at the 54th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill.
The Cornhuskers finished with 135.5 team points, just behind No. 3 Iowa’s score of 150.5. In addition to Nebraska’s three individual championships, Tim Lambert (125) and Tyler Berger (157) finished second as the Huskers placed five wrestlers in the finals.
Dudley, the third-ranked wrestler at 184 pounds, defeated 10th-ranked Jack Dechow of Old Dominion by a 4-2 decision to win the championship. The victory was the 100th of Dudley’s career, as he became the 25th member of Nebraska’s 100-win club. He advanced to the finals with a 10-6 decision over ninth-ranked Nate Jackson of Indiana in the semifinal.
Montoya, ranked fourth by InterMat, claimed the title at 133 pounds. He won a 6-4 sudden victory in the final over second-ranked Zane Richards of Illinois in a rematch of their bout at the NWCA All-Star Classic on Nov. 5, which Richards won 9-7. Montoya’s victory also ended Richards’ streak of 35 consecutive regular-season victories, dating back to last season. Montoya earned a spot in the final after taking down No. 6 Seth Gross of South Dakota State 23 seconds into the first sudden victory period for a 2-0 decision.
Studebaker won a 4-1 decision over fourth-ranked Nate Rotert of South Dakota State to win the championship at 197 pounds. Studebaker, ranked No. 8, earned a spot in the final by defeating 12th-ranked Ryan Wolfe of Rider by a 3-1 decision in the semifinal.
Lambert, the eighth-ranked wrestler at 125 pounds, finished second, dropping a 13-4 major decision to top-ranked Thomas Gilman of Iowa in the final. Lambert defeated Sebastian Rivera of Northwestern by an 8-2 decision in the semifinal match.
Berger, the fifth-ranked wrestler at 157 pounds, took second after dropping a 6-5 decision to fourth-ranked Michael Kemerer of Iowa in the second tiebreaker period. Berger defeated 12th-ranked Colin Heffernan of Central Michigan by an 8-3 decision in the semifinal match.
Chad Red (141) put forth a strong effort at the tournament, finishing in fourth place. The freshman from Indianapolis, Ind., dropped the semifinal match to No. 3 Matthew Kolodzik of Princeton in overtime, but rebounded with a 7-5 decision over 16th-ranked Russell Rohlfing of CSU Bakersfield. Red dropped the third-place match to sixth-ranked Anthony Ashnault of Rutgers.
At heavyweight, 16th-ranked Collin Jensen battled through the consolation bracket to place fifth. Jensen began the day with a 7-4 decision over Mike Kosoy from NC State and a bonus-point win over Oregon State’s Cody Crawford. No. 5 Sam Stoll of Iowa defeated Jensen 6-0 in the consolation semifinal, but Jensen claimed fifth-place after a medical forfeit by second-ranked Connor Medbery of Wisconsin.
Micah Barnes (174) also wrestled Friday, but did not place.
No. 11 Colton McCrystal (141), Dustin Williams (165), Jordan Shearer (149), Collin Purinton (149) and David Jensen (HWT) also competed at the Midlands Championships, but were eliminated on Thursday.
The Huskers return to action on Sunday, Jan. 8, as they welcome defending national champion Penn State to the Devaney Center. The dual with the Nittany Lions is set to begin at 2 p.m. (CT) and will be streamed on BTN Plus.
54th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships (Dec. 29-30, 2016)
125: #8 Tim Lambert – 2nd (4-1)
133: #4 Eric Montoya – 1st (5-0)
141: Chad Red – 4th (4-2)
141: #11 Colton McCrystal – DNP (4-2)
149: Collin Purinton – DNP (0-2)
149: Jordan Shearer – DNP (2-2)
157: #5 Tyler Berger – 2nd (4-1)
165: Dustin Williams – DNP (2-2)
174: Micah Barnes – DNP (2-2)
184: #3 TJ Dudley – 1st (5-0)
197: #8 Aaron Studebaker – 1st (5-0)
HWT: #16 Collin Jensen – 5th (6-2)
HWT: David Jensen – DNP (2-2)