There were only a few people who believed a run to the Big Ten finals was possible for Chad Red this weekend in Minneapolis and every one of them was in the Nebraska wrestling room this season.
But that’s exactly what he did, before the 141-pound Husker sophomore lost to Ohio State’s Joey McKenna by a 9-2 decision for the Big Ten crown.
Red came into the tournament with a 17-10 record and no ranking, but that didn’t stop him from running through fourth-ranked Michael Carr and sixth-ranked Kanen Storr on the way to his first Big Ten finals appearance.
“Chad wrestled with a lot of confidence,” Husker coach Mark Manning said. “The sky is the limit with him just getting better and better.”
Manning pointed to the extra time after weigh-ins, compared to the one hour time period during dual meets, as an extra energy boost for Red.
“Dual meets are tough on people when you’re cutting much weight,” Manning said. “It’s hard for the general public to understand that.”
Red was a key cog in the Husker attack that landed NU in third place after day one of the Big Ten Championships.
That ship sailed on the second day, as the Huskers slipped to a fifth-place finish with 96.5 points, losing a close battle for third and fourth place to Iowa (107.5) and Minnesota (101.5).
“We want to win the conference, so I want to be first. I don’t care about fifth or fourth or third,” Manning said.
Red wasn’t the only large point earner for NU on the weekend, as the Huskers had multiple conference finalists for the first time since 2013-14.
No. 2 Tyler Berger lost the 157-pound title match to Penn State’s top-ranked Jason Nolf, 12-4.
“We just have to have a little bit better game plan at the beginning of the match,” Manning said.
“We have to be super disciplined. You have to be able to keep position, because he’s going to be coming at you a lot.”
The win marks Nolf’s fifth win over Berger in as many tries.
“He (Berger) did a really good job, but he (Nolf) got a few quick ones early and just kind of maintained,” Manning said. “We have to work harder to get to his legs and he just outworked us there.”
Nolf took down Berger six seconds into the match and Manning said that “set the tone” for the rest of the way.
Nebraska had three wrestlers finish fourth at the Big Ten Championships.
Mikey Labriola (174), Taylor Venz (184) and Eric Schultz (197) all lost in the third place matches on Sunday afternoon at Williams Arena.
Labriola’s two losses on the weekend both came to Minnesota’s Devin Skatzka, who Labriola beat earlier in the season.
“He’s just a young pup in his first time,” Manning said. “This place is like the NCAA tournament, it had the atmosphere and the intensity.”
At 165 pounds, Isaiah White took fifth place for NU after a quarterfinal loss to Michigan’s Logan Massa and a consolation semifinal loss to Wisconsin’s Evan Wick.
Nebraska also got a lift from 133-pound true freshman Jevon Parrish, who finished ninth.
The ninth place finish may not come off as much, but Manning said it puts him in a “good” position to get a wildcard.
“I would say he is deserving,” Manning said.
Parrish knocked off two top-30 wrestlers at 133 pounds at the Big Ten Championships.
Zeke Moisey lost both of his matches in Minnesota and medically forfeited the third match of the weekend due to a shoulder injury.
“We don’t know much, we might get an MRI on his shoulder this week,” Manning said.
Moisey’s qualification and health status for the NCAA tournament in Pittsburgh on March 21-23 is up in the air.