Wrestling: No. 7 Nebraska Claims Match Against Cowboys

From the Desk of Henry Endicott

LARAMIE – The Wyoming team got a handful of strong performances in its dual against No. 7 Nebraska, but came up short, 22-12, to the Huskers.

The Cowboys (2-1) saw big wins from Brian Andrews, Cole Verner and Branson Ashworth. Andrews scored the lone bonus point win for the Pokes with a big fall at heavyweight, while Ashworth and Verner both earned top-10 wins at their weights.

“Going into the dual, we were only favored in one match and we ended up losing it, so you know it could go pretty badly, but then you have guys that step up and wrestle well early,” head coach Mark Branch said. “That’s what I was afraid of too, because if you could’ve chose a weight to start at, that wouldn’t have been where we started. We knew coming out of the gate we were probably underdogs in the first four matches, and if you drop the first four it’s going to be tough to turn things around.

“Then we won two of the first four with a pin, so I wouldn’t say that things went great in the first four, but at the same time we had momentum. We had excitement and we had engagement, then we just lost it.”

The dual started at 184 pounds, as Nebraska picked up wins at 184 and 197 to open the day with a 6-0 lead. Nebraska’s third-ranked Taylor Venz earned a 7-1 decision over Cowboy Carless Looney in the first bout of the match before No. 14 Eric Schultz edged out Wyoming’s Cale Davidson, 7-3.

The Huskers wouldn’t hold the advantage for long, however, as Andrews decked Christian Lance to tie up the team score at six. After a scoreless first period, Andrews chose down and escaped to take a 1-0 lead. With 12 seconds to go in the second, the Cowboy sophomore scored a takedown before taking Lance to his back for the pin with seven seconds to go in the frame. The win moved Andrews to 3-0 in dual matches and 9-1 overall. It was his second pin of the season.

Verner faced a tough test at 125 pounds, matched up with two-time All-American and 2015 NCAA finalist Zeke Moisey. The Cowboy junior was up for the challenge, taking the bout, 5-2 over the fifth-ranked Husker. Moisey scored the first takedown of the match, before an escape from Verner less than 20 seconds later to get to the end of the first period with a 2-1 Moisey lead. Moisey chose down to open the second and Verner took advantage by riding out the full two minutes. In the third, Verner got the quick escape to tie up the match, and recorded a last-second escape as the clock wound down to lock up the first ranked win of his career.

“I knew it was going to be a tough match,” Verner said. “I knew he was a pretty tough kid. We had a talk last week in New York, and Branson said ‘It doesn’t matter who you’re wrestling, just make sure you go out there and wrestle your best and the outcomes will come your way.’ That’s what I did. I just went out there, gave it my all and was fortunate to come out with the win.”

Nebraska would get wins in the next four bouts to stretch its lead to 10 at 19-9. At 165, Ashworth answered with a big win over No. 9 Isaiah White. Ashworth was able to escape from the down position quickly to open the second period and take a 1-0 lead following a scoreless first. White chose down to open the final frame, but couldn’t get out as the Cowboy senior rode out the match while picking up a couple of stall warnings on White on the way to the 3-0 decision.

The win was Ashworth’s third ranked win of the season and moved him to 9-1 overall.

“I just wanted to wrestle hard for seven minutes,” Ashworth said. “I wrestled him twice and he beat me twice last year, so I know he comes out fast, he’s explosive, he’s strong. He’s a great wrestler, but today I just wanted to keep hard pressure on him and wear him down. I knew my gas tank would be better than his up in the elevation. I knew I could get him tired and then in the third period he wanted to go down, and I’m good on top so I knew I could take advantage of that.”                                                                                                                                               

At 174 pounds, redshirt freshman Hayden Hastings was up against No. 10 Mikey Labriola to close out the dual. Labriola came out hot, stretching his lead to 10-4 early on against the Cowboy freshman. Hastings found his footing early in the third, however, and despite not getting the win, scored a couple of takedowns in the final two minutes to narrow Labriola’s advantage to 14-11 before the final buzzer.

The Cowboys will hit the road next weekend, when they travel to Stillwater, Okla., for a showdown at No. 2 Oklahoma State.

No. 7 Nebraska 22, No. 18 Wyoming 12
184: No. 3 Taylor Venz (NEB) dec. Carless Looney, 7-1
197: No. 14 Eric Schultz (NEB) dec. Cale Davidson, 7-3
285: Brian Andrews fall (4:53) Christian Lance (NEB)
125: Cole Verner dec. No. 5 Zeke Moisey (NEB), 5-2
133: Tucker Sjomeling (NEB) dec. No. 8 Montorie Bridges, 13-11
141: No. 6 Chad Red Jr. (NEB) dec. Sam Turner, 6-2
149: Jordan Shearer (NEB) dec. Jaron Jensen, 5-0
157: No. 3 Tyler Berger (NEB) major dec. Dewey Kreuger, 14-1
165: No. 10 Branson Ashworth dec. No. 9 Isaiah White (NEB), 3-0
174: No. 10 Mikey Labriola (NEB) dec. Hayden Hastings, 14-11