When Mitchell Maginnis was accepted into the University of Nebraska, he did not have wrestling on his mind.

That has changed tremendously in the five years he has spent in Lincoln, as he is now the Husker starter at 125 pounds.

“I enrolled at Nebraska because it was close to home and I thought it might be cool to join a fraternity or something like that,” the Grand Island Central Catholic graduate said. “It wasn’t until after I was accepted and enrolled when I got a call from (associate head) Coach (Bryan) Snyder about coming and wrestling.”

Maginnis accepted the offer right away. But he was not ready for what he was going to see at the Division I level.

“I didn’t get a takedown for I don’t even know how long it was in the practice room. I couldn’t even tell you how long,” Maginnis said.

Nebraska coach Mark Manning put it bluntly. He said Maginnis was not a Division I wrestler when he got to Nebraska.

But that has changed.

As many walk-ons at Nebraska have done, Maginnis has developed into a starter.

Self belief was the No. 1 thing he said he had the whole way.

“In my head, I knew I was capable of competing, and beating anybody,” Maginnis said. “Even when everyone else didn’t think so. Self belief is just a lot of it.”

That belief has propelled Maginnis to a 15-6 start to his senior campaign, including his first dual win, which came with a 9-4 decision over Maryland’s Brandon Cray.

“It’s a dream come true stepping out in front of the crowd. It’s just kind of surreal,” Maginnis said.

Even though the battle for the 125-pound position has been back-and-forth throughout the early season between Maginnis and Husker sophomore Kris Williams, Maginnis said he feels confident in where he is at.

It sure is different from where he started five years ago as a regular student going to the University of Nebraska.

“He’s our guy moving forward, and it’s a testament to his work ethic, his commitment,” Manning said.

No. 19 Nebraska will host No. 22 Purdue at 7 p.m. Friday at the Devaney Sports Center. The Huskers are coming off a 48-3 win against Maryland, while the Boilermakers are coming off a loss at No. 8 Michigan.

Purdue is led by Dylan Lydy, who is ranked 12th nationally at 174 pounds.

Briefly

Some of the state's top high school wrestlers will take over the mats at the Devaney Sports Center prior to Nebraska-Purdue.

Class A No. 1 Kearney will meet Class B No. 1 Omaha Skutt, while Bennington will meet Class C No. 2 David City.

Both duals will start at 5 p.m.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7431 or rmiller2@journalstar.com.

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