When it comes to depth, Nebraska wrestling coach Mark Manning knows how important it is to have too much rather than too little.
Right now, Manning’s team depth is a luxury at most weight classes.
“That’s depth we’ll definitely need to use throughout the year because of injuries and such,” Manning said.
Manning said his Huskers are “reasonably” healthy as they head into a pair of road duals this weekend. Nebraska will face Northern Colorado at 7 p.m. Saturday before taking on Wyoming Sunday at 2 p.m.
These are Nebraska’s first duals after opening its season at the Daktronics Open in South Dakota last Sunday. The Huskers, ranked ninth in the NWCA/USA Today poll, had wrestlers go undefeated in eight of the 10 weight class last Sunday.
Two of NU’s 174-pound wrestlers, sophomore Robert Kokesh and senior Tyler Koehn, went 3-0 in South Dakota. Both were qualifiers for the NCAA Championships last season.
“Robert’s got the (starting) spot right now,” Manning said. “Tyler is going to go on the trip if we need him. He’s a great competitor who’s got a lot of experience. We’re going to need him throughout the year, too.”
Manning said there’s also good battles for starting spots at 165 between Austin Wilson and Brandon Wilbourn — Kokesh went 30-7 while competing at 165 last season — and at 141 with Ridge Kiley and Skyler Galloway. Kiley wrestled at the NCAAs last season at 133. At 125, either Skylar Wood or Eric Coufal will start.
“It’s a nice problem to have — not for (the wrestlers), but for us as coaches,” Manning said. “The injury bug can catch up to you, so it’s nice to have experienced people to step in and fill that void.”
Four Huskers are ranked in this week’s InterMat poll — Kokesh is eighth at 174; James Green is fifth at 157; Josh Ihnen is sixth at 184 and Jake Sueflohn is 14th at 149.
The tougher dual this weekend is expected to be Wyoming, ranked 19th nationally. During its opening week, Wyoming defeated Boise State 26-12 in a dual and then had three individual winners in the elite division of the Cowboy Open in Laramie.
Wyoming’s individual winners at its home meet included senior Alfonso Hernandez, who is ranked fourth nationally at 197 pounds. Its other individual winners were sophomores Zach Zehner (133) and Andy McCulley (157).
Northern Colorado, meanwhile, returns eight starters from a team that went 6-7 in duals last season.
“I know a few of Wyoming’s guys, but for me, I’m more concerned about my team,” Manning said. “We’re looking to see improvement from some of our guys and how they’ll respond to dual meets.”
This weekend’s duals set Nebraska up for its home opener next Friday against top-ranked Minnesota. Manning is keeping that showdown off his radar for the time being.
“We’ll worry about Minnesota next week. We just want to make sure our guys are healthy,” Manning said. “Next week will present other challenges.”