NEB WRES: Huskers Host Cowboys in Home Opener

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Courtesy: UNL Media Relations

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No. 15 Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Wyoming Cowboys
Friday, Nov. 17 – Lincoln, Neb.

Live Stream: BTN Plus/FloWrestling

Huskers Host Cowboys in Home Opener
Nebraska will kick off its home dual season this Friday, as the Cornhuskers welcome Wyoming to the Devaney Center at 7 p.m.

Tickets to the Wyoming dual are available at Huskers.com/Tickets or by calling 1-800-8-BIG-RED. The first 400 fans in attendance will receive “Takedown for Two” foam fingers. The dual will be streamed live on both BTN Plus and FloWrestling (subscription required for both).

Four Huskers are ranked by InterMat this week. Tyler Berger is ranked fourth at 157, while Colton McCrystal is sixth at 149 and Chad Red Jr. is seventh at 141. Isaiah White is ranked 16th at 165.

Nebraska will be looking to continue a string of success under Head Coach Mark Manning in season dual openers. Nebraska is 44-51-2 all-time in season opening dual meets, but 16-1 under Manning. The Huskers are also 46-44-1 all-time in season home openers, and 15-2 under Manning.

Wyoming also opens its dual season on Friday. UW hosted the Cowboy Open on Nov. 4, and brought home two champions in the elite bracket. Three Cowboys are ranked by InterMat, including All-American and NWCA All-Star and Bryce Meredith as No. 3 at 141. Archie Colgan (No. 17 at 157) and Branson Ashworth (No. 12 at 165) are also ranked.

Wyoming is coached by Mark Branch, who is in his 10th season. The Cowboys finished 21st at last season’s NCAA Championships.

Last Time Out: Five Huskers won championships at the Daktronics Open on Nov. 5, including Chad Red Jr. (141), Colton McCrystal (149), Tyler Berger (157), Mikey Labriola (174) and Taylor Venz (184). Two more Huskers, Isaiah White (165) and Eric Schultz (197) finished second.

Up Next: The Huskers will travel to West Virginia next Saturday, Nov. 25 at 1 p.m. (CT).

All-American Berger Returns Looking for More
Nebraska’s lone returning All-American Tyler Berger returns as a junior looking to take the next step and join an elite list of multiple-time All-Americans. The 157-pounder took fifth at the NCAA Championships last season, continuing a string of success at that weight in recent years, as the Huskers have had an All-American at 157 in five of the past seven seasons.

Berger, from Prineville, Ore., was Nebraska’s wins leader with 36 last season, giving him a career record of 60-19 to put him on pace to be the next member of Nebraska’s 100-win club. Of Berger’s six losses last season, five of them came to either Jason Nolf of Penn State or Michael Kemerer of Iowa, the top two seeds at the NCAA Championships. Berger, a two-time NCAA Championships qualifier, finished third at the Big Ten Championships last season.

Nebraska also returns an NCAA qualifier in senior Colton McCrystal, who advanced to the Round of 12 at 141 pounds last year. He also finished third at the Big Ten Championships, while racking up the second-most wins on the team with 34, with 17 coming by bonus points. McCrystal is set to compete at 149 this season.

Huskers Seek New Contributors
With six starters from a season ago lost to graduation, including three All-Americans, Nebraska’s 10 weight classes will look dramatically different from 2016-17. With just two NCAA qualifiers returning from last year’s team, the Huskers will be evaluating each weight class in practice, wrestle-offs, open tournaments and duals as the season moves along.

At 141 pounds, Chad Red Jr., a highly touted recruit who had a strong redshirt season, should get the call, while Isaiah White, who transferred to Nebraska in the offseason after winning the Division II national championship in 2017, is the favorite to be Nebraska’s starter at 165.

Nebraska will also look to replace starters at the two lowest weight classes, 125 and 133, and the four upper weights, 174, 184, 197 and heavyweight. Redshirt freshmen Taylor Venz and Eric Schultz look to have the inside track at 184 and 197 pounds, but open competition at each weight class will be productive for the Huskers as the season gets started.

Huskers Bring Back Dual Experience
Nebraska returns eight wrestlers with dual experience this season, including All-American Tyler Berger and NCAA qualifier Colton McCrystal. Both Berger and McCrystal racked up over 30 wins for the Huskers in 2017.

Collin Purinton (149), Jordan Shearer (149), Justin Arthur (157), Dustin Williams (165), Eric Engler (174) and David Jensen (HWT) each saw action in dual meets for the Huskers last season, and look to contribute again this year. In addition to Berger and McCrystal, Purinton and Williams were starters for NU at the Big Ten Championships last season.

Huskers Working Through Tough Schedule
Nebraska will face seven teams in dual action in 2017-18 that finished in the top 25 at the NCAA Championships last season: Michigan (10th), Illinois (11th), Wisconsin (13th), NC State (17th), Rutgers (19th), Wyoming (21st) and Stanford (24th).

In addition, NU has seven teams on the slate currently ranked in the USA Today/NWCA Coaches Poll: Michigan (4th), NC State (7th), Rutgers (11th), Illinois (14th), Wisconsin (18th), Stanford (21st) and Purdue (22nd).

Scouting Wyoming
2017-18 Dual Record:
0-0 (0-0 Big 12)
2017 NCAA Championships: 21st (20 points)
2017 Big 12 Championships: 5th (71.5 points)
2016-17 Dual Record: 7-8 (4-4 Big 12)

Branson Ashworth (165) and Chaz Polson (184) won individual titles at the Cowboy Open (Nov. 4)

Three Cowboys are ranked by InterMat, including a top-three wrestler in Bryce Meredith (No. 3 at 141)

The Cowboys are coached by Mark Branch (10th season at Wyoming)

Record at Wyoming/Overall: 87-46

All-Time vs. Wyoming
Nebraska leads the all-time series against Wyoming, 36-14-0. The Huskers have won the last seven matchups, and 28 of the last 29 dating back to 1987.

Last Meeting: NU 33, UW 8
Nov. 20, 2016, Laramie, Wyo.

No. 15 Colton McCrystal knocked off No. 4 Bryce Meredith by a 6-2 decision to highlight NU’s trip to Laramie. McCrystal trailed Meredith 1-0 after two periods, but the Husker rolled the Cowboy on his back in the third period to earn four nearfall points and the win.

Five Huskers added bonus points, including No. 9 Tim Lambert (125), who pinned Gunnar Woodburn in 3:18.

No. 15 Collin Jensen (HWT) and No. 4 Eric Montoya (133) each won by technical fall during a span of seven straight bouts won by the Big Red. Jensen defeated Sam Eagan, 16-0, in the first period, while Montoya downed Ronald Stevens, 17-2, in the second period.

No. 4 TJ Dudley (184) and No. 6 Aaron Studebaker (197) each notched major decisions after the team score was tied 3-3 through two matches. Dudley took down Luke Paine, 18-4, while Studebaker defeated Cody Vigoren, 14-3.

No. 17 Micah Barnes (174) was tied with Kyle Pope entering the third period, but rode the Cowboy for the entire two minutes to pick up the riding time point and a 7-6 win.

In the final match of the evening, No. 8 Tyler Berger (157) downed Archie Colgan, 5-2, with the help of a late takedown.