Huskers show ‘grit and a lot of heart’ at NCAA wrestling championships

CLEVELAND — Mark Manning says you’re never too young to win, and that was the case for his Nebraska wrestling team this weekend.

A strong showing through the consolation bracket earned Nebraska three All-Americans, including a pair of top-four finishes at the NCAA championships.

“At the NCAAs, you have ups and downs, but I thought we got stronger as the tournament went on,” the NU coach said. “I thought our guys showed a lot of grit and a lot of heart.”

Junior Tyler Berger picked up two more wins Saturday to finish in third place in the 157-pound weight class. Berger recorded a takedown in sudden victory-1 for a 4-2 decision over Ohio State’s Micah Jordan, then in the third-place match, Berger won by injury default over Iowa’s Michael Kemerer.

Berger, a two-time All-American who placed fifth at nationals last year, had a 6-1 record at nationals this year. His only loss came to top-seeded Hayden Hidlay of North Carolina State by one point. Berger, ranked 13th at InterMat entering nationals, beat four opponents ranked in the top 11.

Nebraska’s other All-Americans were redshirt freshmen Taylor Venz at 184 and CJ Red at 141.

On Saturday, Venz defeated Zachary Zavatsky of Virginia Tech 7-3 to reach the third-place match. He then dropped an 8-1 decision to Emory Parker of Illinois.

Venz, who defeated four ranked opponents at nationals, is the highest-placing Husker freshman since 1999 when current assistant coach Bryan Snyder finished fourth.

Red won his lone match Saturday to finish seventh as he pinned Eastern Michigan’s Sa’Derian Perry. Red, who lost his opening match, ended up with a 5-2 record for the week.

“We had a tremendous night last night and tremendous day today,” Manning said. “Young guys are growing up and learning to win on this level.”​

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