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Husker wrestlers gain momentum with decisive win over Stanford

February 24, 2019

Mark Manning told Nebraska men’s gymnastics coach Chuck Chmelka before the season started that he didn’t want to do a “Tumble N’ Rumble” event on Nebraska wrestling’s senior night.

Mother Nature had other plans.

As a giant snowstorm came into the forecast earlier in the week, wrestling coach Manning and Chmelka revisited the idea and made it work.

The No. 7 Nebraska wrestlers responded with a 31-9 win over No. 25 Stanford in dominating fashion Saturday afternoon at the Devaney Sports Center. The Husker men’s gymnasts, competing at the same time, also won a three-team meet.

“We kind of wanted our own time for our senior night,” Manning said. “But we came back to it about two days out.”

Manning said wrestling the Cardinal gave his guys some momentum heading into a tournament that he said is “every bit as good as nationals” — the Big Ten Championships on March 9-10 in Minneapolis.

“The momentum going into postseason is just huge for our guys,” Manning said.

No. 6 Taylor Venz (184 pounds) and Chad Red (141) exemplified that well.

Both sophomores pinned their opponents and were the catalysts for Nebraska’s win.

“It felt huge getting that win today coming off of a loss,” Red said. “It boosts my confidence going into Big Tens. Anything is possible.”

Five Huskers were also honored for the senior day festivities.

Zeke Moisey, Jordan Shearer and Tyler Berger were three of the honorees, and they all won their matches in the dual as well.

No. 2 Berger beat Stanford’s Dominick Mandarino at 157 after Mandarino passed out in the third period in an inadvertent choke-hold between Berger’s leg and body.

“I was putting a little pressure back on him there,” Berger said after the dual. “He just passed out. I felt his body a little limp, but I didn’t know if he was just going limp for the stalemate.”

Berger chose to go in the down position after the injury timeout, got an escape point and won the match 2-1.

He said a lot of guys have been wrestling him with a defensive mindset and not letting him get going offensively, but that just further sharpens his mindset in day-to-day training.

“I’ve had a lot of attention on myself this year,” Berger said. “They don’t wrestle to wrestle their best; they wrestle to beat you.”

That formula hasn’t worked too often this year, as Berger’s record moved to 22-2 with Saturday’s win.

The Huskers’ No. 6 Isaiah White won by technical fall at 165 pounds and No. 9 Mikey Labriola was dominant in his major-decision victory at 174.

Manning said he was happy with the way NU wrestled, and he’s even happier to have a week for his wrestlers to rest up before gearing up for the conference tournament.

“Some of them need a break from the physical stress,” he said. “But also the mental pressure. It’s kind of like a bye week. You need that.”

There are no substantial injuries on Nebraska’s roster heading into the Big Ten Championships.

David Jensen did not wrestle Saturday because of a skin infection, but Manning said he will be ready to go come March 9.