The 18th-ranked Nebraska wrestling squad defeated No. 16 Rutgers 19-13 at the Devaney Center Sunday afternoon. Had the dual occurred a month earlier, the final result may have been different.
“I don’t think we would have won this dual a month ago, the way we were wrestling, honestly,” Nebraska senior Tyler Berger said. “But we’ve grown a lot.”
After trailing 9-0 through the first three matches, the Huskers won six of the final seven matches to push their dual win streak to four. The victory over the Scarlet Knights was also Nebraska’s third straight against a ranked foe.
Two weeks ago, before the start of the Huskers’ win streak, Nebraska was on a losing streak, dropping three consecutive duals to then-No. 6 North Carolina State, then-unranked North Carolina and then-No. 12 Illinois.
Nebraska Coach Mark Manning said his squad is not the same as it was a few weeks back.
“A month ago, I don’t know what team that was,” Manning said. “But it wasn’t the team I know. That was an anomaly.”
The Huskers comeback win against the Scarlet Knights didn’t come easy.
With the dual starting at 165 pounds, Nebraska got its first match-victory at 197 pounds before sophomore heavyweight Patrick Grayson of Nebraska earned his first career dual win.
After nearly pinning his opponent Razohnn Gross of Rutgers in the second period, Grayson rolled to a 10-2 major decision.
Rutgers earned a major decision of its own at 125 pounds, giving the Scarlet Knights a 13-7 lead in the team score with four matches to go.
Nebraska’s true freshman Jason Renteria sparked the Huskers’ rally with a 14-11 decision against No. 17 Scott DelVecchio.
Renteria said he was nervous before the match, knowing his team was losing and his opponent was ranked, but those pre-match jitters quickly disappeared.
“As soon as I got out there, all the nerves went away,” Renteria said after the dual. “I told myself to just go out there and have fun, and that’s what I did.”
Renteria scored first with one of his five takedowns in the match.
“That’s when I knew it was over,” Renteria said. “If I score that fast on someone on my feet, that’s when I know it’s over. All the pressure on me just disappears.”
Nebraska took its first lead of the dual with two more decision-wins at 141 and 149 pounds.
Needing one last win to seal the team victory, Berger, ranked eighth at 157 pounds for Nebraska, came through after letting his early lead slip away.
Berger led No. 18 John Van Brill of Rutgers 4-2 at the start of the third and final period. Van Brill was given one point for stalling on Berger and another at the conclusion of the final period for riding time.
In the sudden-victory period, Berger scored a takedown to win.
At the end of the third period, after being on bottom for the entire two minutes, Berger wasn’t fully aware of the score and was shocked he would have to wrestle an overtime period.
“I had no idea what was going on,” Berger said. “I couldn’t hear anything, I couldn’t see anything. I didn’t know what was happening.”
Regardless, the veteran wrestler earned the dual-clinching win.
Nebraska returns to action on Jan. 28 for its final home dual of the season. The Huskers will battle against Indiana at 2 p.m. inside the Devaney Center. The dual also marks Senior Day for Nebraska’s four seniors.
165: #12 Richie Lewis (RU) tb-1 #11 Isaiah White (NEB), 2-1 (RU 3, NEB 0)
174: Joe Grello (RU) dec. Beau Breske (NEB), 4-2 (RU 6, NEB 0)
184: #14 Nicholas Gravina (RU) dec. #7 Taylor Venz (NEB), 9-3 (RU 9, NEB 0)
197: Eric Schultz (NEB) dec. Kevin Mulligan (RU), 3-2 (RU 9, NEB 3)
HWT: Patrick Grayson (NEB) major dec. Razohnn Gross (RU), 10-2 (RU 9, NEB 7)
125: #2 Nick Suriano (RU) major dec. Mitchell Maginnis (NEB), 14-4 (RU 13, NEB 7)
133: Jason Renteria (NEB) dec. #17 Scott DelVecchio (RU), 14-11 (RU 13, NEB 10)
141: #12 Chad Red Jr. (NEB) dec. Michael Van Brill (RU), 3-1 (NEB 13, RU 13)
149: #10 Colton McCrystal (NEB) dec. #13 Eleazar DeLuca (RU), 7-2 (NEB 16, RU 13)
157: #8 Tyler Berger (NEB) sv-1 #18 John Van Brill (RU), 6-4 (NEB 19, RU 13)
Cody is a senior journalism major at UNL. He grew up in Fairview, SD, a town of less than 70 people. Cody has covered a variety of Husker athletics, ranging from bowling to football. He has a passion for sports and an interest in telling stories and has developed a knack for sports data and looking deeper into statistics. He’s a fan of all Colorado sports teams. Cody and his fiancée Kaitlyn are engaged to be married in July 2018.