LINCOLN — Ninth-ranked Nebraska dug a 16-5 hole by losing five straight matches to Wisconsin on Sunday. And the Huskers couldn’t quite get out of it, falling 19-17 in the Big Ten dual to the unranked Badgers in front of 1,008 at the NU Coliseum.
Nebraska coach Mark Manning was disappointed that Wisconsin won close matches that could have flipped the score in the Huskers’ favor had even one gone the other way.
“We’ve got some guys doubting themselves,” Manning said. “That is what is going to happen when you doubt yourself: You’re going to lose close matches.”
The future will be different, Manning said, following the loss to a team that Nebraska defeated 36-0 in Madison last year.
“Yes, I’d like to win all of these duals,” Manning said. “But I want to win in March.”
That’s when conference and NCAA championship matches are held.
The Huskers were without injured All-American James Green, ranked eighth with a 12-2 record overall and 5-0 in duals. Senior Ross Grande, who normally wrestles at 165 pounds, filled in for Green at 157 and suffered a 4-2 loss to Kalvin York. York was assessed two stall warnings in the third period while hanging on for the win in the third-from-last match.
Nebraska won the last two matches handily, with Austin Wilson winning 11-5 at 165 and Robert Kokesh beating Scott Liegel 18-2 at 174, but the Huskers still came up two points short of the victory.
Veteran Josh Ihnen got the Huskers off to a 5-0 start with a 17-0 win over Ben Cox. But a five-match drought followed.
The next match at 197 went to overtime between NU’s Caleb Kolb and Jackson Hein, an undefeated but unranked junior. Hein scored a takedown in the sudden victory period to pull Wisconsin to 5-3.
Manning expects to have Spencer Johnson back at 197 pounds next week. Johnson won 23 matches last year as a redshirt freshman but is recovering from a knee injury.
The heavyweight match between two redshirt freshmen had the potential for a Husker upset, but Wisconsin’s No. 14 Connor Medbery pulled out a 4-2 win over Donny Longendyke.
After the Kolb and Longendyke losses, Wisconsin won three straight to build its lead. Matt Cavallaris beat NU freshman Eric Coufal 7-4 at 125 pounds; Tom Kelliher beat NU’s Shawn Nagel 5-1 at 133 pounds; and No. 9 Tylar Graff beat Ridge Kiley 13-5 at 141 pounds.
Manning said the Huskers’ lineup will look different when the team travels to meet future Big Ten rivals Rutgers and Maryland in the Grapple at the Garden tournament Dec. 16 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Among the changes could be the return of injured Skyler Woods, a freshman who won three prep state titles while competing at Platte County High School north of Kansas City, Mo. Woods has a 6-3 overall record as a Husker.
Individual results: 184 pounds: Josh Ihnen, NU, tech. fall. Ben Cox, 17-0. 197: Jackson Hein, UW, sudden victory (overtime) Caleb Kolb, 3-1. Hwt: Connor Medbery, UW, dec. Donny Longendyke, 3-1. 125: Matt Cavallaris, UW, dec. Eric Coufal, 7-4. 133: Tom Kelliher, UW, dec. Shawn Nagel, 5-1. 141: Tyler Graff, UW, major dec. Ridge Kiley, 13-5. 149: Jake Sueflohn, NU, major dec. Cole Schmitt, 9-1. 157: Kalvin York, UW, dec. Ross Grande, 4-2. 165: Austin Wilson, NU, dec. Frank Cousins, 11-5. 174: Robert Kokesh, NU, tech. fall Scott Liegel, 18-2.
Contact the writer: