The first Big Ten dual of the year was a heartbreaker for Nebraska, with the Huskers losing by criteria in a 21-21 tie to Wisconsin at the Devaney Sports Center.
No. 18 Wisconsin won because it had more pins, forfeits or injury defaults than 12th-ranked Nebraska. Wisconsin had two, while the Huskers had one.
“We’re trying to turn this thing around,” first year Badger coach Chris Bono said. “You have something to prove here in this environment and our kids were just great.”
Nebraska led early on, as Tyler Berger kicked off the Huskers' home dual season with a 15-6 major decision over Patrick Spray.
Berger had seven takedowns in the contest, and dominated from beginning to end.
“We were talking about it before the weigh-ins,” Berger said. “Everyone was asking where we wanted to start, and I just straight-up said, ‘157. I want to be the guy.'”
Evan Wick responded for Wisconsin, controlling the second and third periods against Isaiah White and got the Badgers on the board.
At 174 pounds, Mikey Labriola led the entire match before getting taken down in the final moments of the third period.
Ryan Christensen pinned Labriola with 0.4 seconds left to give the Badgers their first lead.
“We’re just trying to find a way to win,” Bono said. “Our guys are gritty. We’re not the best wrestlers but we just fight.”
Nebraska responded with back-to-back wins from Taylor Venz and Eric Schultz at 184 and 197 pounds.
A big blow in Wisconsin's favor came in the heavyweight match. Trent Hillger got a major decision over Patrick Grayson and tied up the dual at 12 apiece.
In the 125-pound match, Wisconsin’s Connor Brown sprained his ankle and had to forfeit to Zeke Moisey.
With the six points from the forfeit, Nebraska led 18-12.
“We put them through the wringer, and I’m just really proud,” Bono said moments before taking a phone call from Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, a former Nebraska football player, who congratulated him on his first Big Ten win.
Wisconsin’s Jens Lantz won the 133-pound match over Tucker Sjomeling and then the Badgers got their second pin of the night.
Tristan Moran pinned Christian Miller, who was wrestling at 141 pounds because of a medical issue that normal starter Chad Red endured in the past few days.
Mark Manning did not comment after the dual about Red’s status, or on the dual itself.
Although Collin Purinton won an 8-6 bout in front of a raucous Devaney Sports Center crowd, Wisconsin still claimed the win.
Purinton had Wisconsin's Cole Martin on his back in the match, but was not able to secure the fall that would have given the Huskers the dual win.
“It sucks to lose and we’re not happy about it,” Berger said. “We have to focus. We have some things to fix. We are a very talented team.”