Injuries derailed Nebraska during the first half of the wrestling season.
The Huskers are dealing with more of the same as they return from their Christmas break.
“We have five starters out of the lineup,” said Nebraska coach Mark Manning, who won’t have anyone wrestle at 149 or 184 pounds this weekend. “We just need to go there and compete and get better. We’re banged up right now.”
The Huskers return from a two-week break by competing at the Midlands Championships in Evanston, Ill. The opening session starts at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and the finals will be at 7 p.m. Sunday.
The invitational, hosted by Northwestern, features 32 Division I teams — 15 ranked in this week’s Top 25.
Six of the seven Big Ten teams participating are ranked, led by No. 6 Illinois. Michigan, ranked 12th, is competing in the Midlands Championships for the first time since 2002. Nebraska, which went 2-2 in duals in December, enters the tournament 17th.
“There will be some MAC teams and some East Coast teams that we normally don’t see,” Manning said of the Midlands Championships. “This is a tournament format and I’m looking to see how our guys compete in a tournament. It’s going to have a lot of good teams. There’s a lot of good competition and obviously a lot of good individuals.”
Many of Nebraska’s top individuals will be sidelined by injuries.
“We won’t have Jake Sueflohn, we won’t have James Green, we won’t have Josh Ihnen, we won’t have Donny Longendyke,” Manning said.
Sueflohn (149), Green (157) and Ihnen (184) are ranked nationally in the top 10 in their respective weight classes and have a combined record of 41-6 this season. Longendyke has been the Huskers’ starter at heavyweight.
They will heal up in preparation for Nebraska’s return to Big Ten dual competition — the Huskers’ next event is a dual at Michigan on Jan. 11.
Robert Kokesh will be in Nebraska’s lineup this weekend. Kokesh is 16-1 and ranked eighth at 174 pounds.
Also for the Huskers, Brandon Wilbourn will fill in for Green at 157; Ridge Kiley and Skylar Galloway will be available at 141, and Manning could go with Tyler Koehn or Austin Wilson at 165.
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