By Christmas, the Nebraska wrestling team will be used to the Pacific time zone.
Three times in the next four weekends, the Huskers will fly west to compete before turning their attention to the Big Ten in January and February.
The first of those trips is Saturday, when Nebraska takes part in the Stanford Duals. The No. 8 Huskers will face three teams ranked in the top 50 — Utah Valley at 1 p.m. CST, Stanford at 2:45 and CSU-Bakersfield at 4:30.
“It’s going to expose us to a lot of guys in national rankings,” Nebraska coach Mark Manning said. “Stanford has a really good team. They’ve knocked off three Top 25 teams. Utah Valley has some good guys, and I know Bakersfield has some good guys. So that’s going to be a good preview for wrestling in Vegas.”
Nebraska will be in Las Vegas next weekend for the Cliff Keen Invitational, which draws about 50 teams. The Huskers return to Nevada on Dec. 22 for the Reno Tournament of Champions.
“This next month is going to be great for us,” Manning said. “Our guys have gotten some experience in recent weeks, and they’ve gotten results.”
Nebraska improved to 2-0 in duals last Sunday when it rolled to a 36-6 win at South Dakota State. Manning said he liked what he saw from his team that day.
“We got better as a team that week,” he said. “We were sharper and we executed our stuff better and we were pretty good in all three positions. We’re still getting better. We can be a much more dominant team up and down the lineup instead of just a few guys.”
This weekend’s most competitive weight class appears to be 125 pounds. Three wrestlers are ranked in the top 15 by InterMat — Stanford’s Evan Silver is 11th, Utah Valley’s Jade Rauser is 13th and Nebraska freshman Tim Lambert is 15th.
Stanford’s lineup includes three wrestlers ranked in the top 15, led by third-ranked Ryan Mango at 133. The Cardinal are 6-1 in duals this season, having beaten then-No. 25 Central Michigan 18-13, then-No. 15 Maryland 17-16 and then-No. 17 Michigan 21-13. Stanford’s only loss came last Sunday when it was edged 18-16 by Eastern Michigan.
Nebraska has three wrestlers ranked in the top five — James Green (157), who was rested last weekend, and Robert Kokesh (174) are fourth in their respective weight classes, while Jake Sueflohn is fifth at 149.
Manning may use multiple wrestlers at 133, 165, 184 and 197. At 197, Caleb Kolb is back from an ankle injury. Spencer Johnson won his match at that weight class at South Dakota State.