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Huskers Finish Fifth at Big Ten Championships

March 4, 2018
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Day Two of the Big Ten Wrestling Championships was all about placements. Nebraska had seven wrestlers battling for a spot on the podium.

Three Huskers placed fourth in their respective weight classes: senior Colton McCrystal (149), junior Tyler Berger (157) and redshirt freshman Taylor Venz (184).

True freshman Jason Renteria finished fifth at 133 pounds, while sophomore Isaiah White (165) and redshirt freshman Chad Red Jr. and Eric Schultz (197) each finished seventh.

Nebraska placed fifth in the team standings with 72.5 points, 5.5 ahead of Wisconsin in sixth place.

The Huskers’ top-five finish is its third consecutive at the Big Ten Championships. They finished fourth in the previous two.

Ohio State claimed its third Big Ten title in four seasons, totaling 164.5 points and four individual champions.

The Buckeyes finished 16.5 points ahead of Penn State in second.

After losing in Saturday’s semifinal round, Renteria dropped his second straight match in Sunday morning’s consolation semifinals. Seventh seed Dylan Duncan of Illinois upset Renteria, the fourth seed at 133 pounds, by decision 9-8.

Renteria bounced back in his final match of the tournament, defeating No. 5 seed Scott Delvecchio of Rutgers for the third time this season to take fifth place in his first ever Big Ten Championships.

McCrystal and Berger were the first two Nebraska wrestlers to advance into the third-place matches with medical forfeits by their opponents at 149 and 157 pounds. 

The No. 3 seed Ryan Deakin of Northwestern forfeited at 149 pounds, while returning NCAA champion and No. 2 seed Jason Nolf of Penn State forfeited at 157 pounds.

Both McCrystal and Berger would lose in their respective third-place matches and finish fourth.

In a rematch of the 149 quarterfinals, Ohio State’s Ke-Shawn Hayes, seeded fifth, defeated McCrystal, again, this time by a decision 7-5.

At 157 pounds, Berger was defeated for the second time this season by Wisconsin’s Andrew Crone. With the match tied 4-4 late in the third period, Crone scored a takedown and a two-point nearfall to win the match.

Despite the loss, Berger became a three-time place finisher at the Big Ten Championships. He placed seventh in 2016 as a redshirt freshman, and third as a sophomore last season.

In the 184-pound consolation semifinals, Venz avenged a dual-season loss to Emery Parker of Illinois. Parker, seeded fourth in the bracket, defeated Venz by decision 9-7 on Jan. 5. This time, it was Venz’ hand that was raised as he cruised to a 9-4 decision victory.

Already guaranteed a higher placement than his assigned seed, Venz was defeated in the third place match. The third seed Dominic Abounader beat Venz for the second time in the tournament and third time this season, this time winning by decision 7-3.

In the seventh-place matches, Nebraska went three-for-three, continuing a string of victories during the morning session.

At 141 pounds, Red defeated Ryan Diehl of Maryland for the second time during the tournament, this time by decision 6-3.

Like Venz, White also avenged an early season loss on Sunday, defeating No. 6 seed Nick Wanzek of Minnesota by decision, 5-1, at 165 pounds

With a 1-0 lead late in the third period, White scored a four-point nearfall to extend his lead and win by decision 5-1.

Wanzek defeated White in the championship match of the Daktronics Open on Nov. 5.

Schultz made it three in a row for the Huskers with a 3-1 sudden victory against No. 7 seed Zack Chakonis of Northwestern.

At the moment, six Nebraska wrestlers will be going to the NCAA Championships in Cleveland on March 15-17, with the at-large bids being announced later this week.

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