Mark Manning added an extra element to practice this week ahead of the Huskers’ trip to take on the nation’s No. 1 team.
The coach filled the practice room with crowd noise in preparation for Nebraska’s dual at Penn State. Seventh-ranked NU takes on the Nittany Lions at noon Sunday at a sold-out Rec Hall.
“It will get these guys ready for what they will experience,” Manning said. “(Penn State has) seven national titles in eight years, so there’s going to be a different feel in that arena. We have to make sure we’re bringing the right energy and block out what we can’t control.”
Manning said he doesn’t pipe in crowd noise for practice very often, “but this is a unique situation.”
And Penn State is a unique opponent.
The Nittany Lions have won 51 straight duals. Their last loss came in 2015.
Four individuals are No. 1 in their weight class, according to this week’s InterMat ratings.
Seven of Penn State’s nine NCAA qualifiers from last year’s national title team returned, including three champions.
“It’s a good opportunity for these guys to improve their positions,” Manning said of his team. “We’re obviously not at the top of our game up and down the lineup yet, but we’re getting closer.”
There could be 17 ranked wrestlers competing in the dual — NU has eight, including four in the top 10 while Penn State has seven in the top six.
The strength of both teams is in the upper weights. Penn State has top-ranked wrestlers at 157, 165, 174 and 197 pounds. Four of the matchups feature top-10 opponents.
The marquee matchup pits Penn State’s Jason Nolf, a two-time national champ at 157, against Tyler Berger, who is No. 2 in the rankings behind Nolf thanks to a string of impressive wins. Since the beginning of December, Berger has defeated No. 3 Ryan Deakin of Northwestern, No. 4 Hayden Hidlay of North Carolina State, No. 6 Ke-Shawn Hayes of Ohio State and North Carolina’s Kennedy Monday, now ranked 14th at 165 pounds.
“He’s really matured,” Manning said of Berger. “His mind is as strong as his technique. That’s probably the best compliment I can give.”
Berger, a two-time All-American who placed third at nationals last year, said he likes where he is mentally and physically this season.
“I know my training. I trust my training,” said Berger, who has 103 career wins.
Nolf, meanwhile, is 101-3 in his career and earned his 100th win last weekend against Deakin, a 19-7 major decision. Nolf — who is married to former Omaha Marian soccer player Maddie (Elliston) Nolf — has earned bonus points in all 15 of his wins this season.
In other top matchups, NU’s Isaiah White, who has won nine matches in a row and is No. 6 at 165, could see No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph, who was sidelined last weekend. White lost to Joseph in sudden victory in the NCAA quarterfinals last March.
At 174, Penn State’s top-ranked Mark Hall will face freshman Mikey Labriola, a Pennsylvania native who is ranked ninth. At 184, NU’s Taylor Venz, ranked fifth, will face No. 3 Shakur Rasheed.
Huskers roll against Maryland
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Seventh-ranked Nebraska had no problems with Maryland on Friday night, rolling to a 37-6 dual win.
The Huskers won eight of the 10 matches, including six by bonus points.
Nebraska got pins from Tyler Berger at 157 pounds and Taylor Venz at 184. Berger trailed 4-1 a half-minute into his match before grabbing control and recording his pin with 21 seconds left in the first period.
Eric Schultz added his sixth bonus-point victory this season, winning a 26-11 technical fall at 197 pounds. Nebraska also got major decisions from Zeke Moisey (125) and CJ Red (141) and a forfeit at 174.
Maryland’s two wins were a 5-3 decision by two-time NCAA qualifier Alfred Bannister over Jordan Shearer at 149 and sixth-ranked heavyweight Youssif Hemida’s 8-6 win over No. 14 David Jensen. The match was tied 5-5 after two periods.
Nebraska next competes at No. 1 Penn State on Sunday.
Individual results — 125 pounds: Zeke Moisey, NU, major dec. Brandon Cray, 16-4. 133: Jevon Parrish, NU, dec. Orion Anderson, 9-5. 141: CJ Red, NU, major dec. Michael Doetsch, 15-2. 149: Alfred Bannister, Maryland, dec. Jordan Shearer, 5-3. 157: Tyler Berger, NU, pinned Adam Whitesell, 2:39. 165: Isaiah White, NU, dec. Phil Spadafora, 14-10. 174: Mikey Labriola, NU, won by forfeit. 184: Taylor Venz, NU, pinned Kyle Jasenski, 4:46. 197: Eric Schultz, NU, tech. fall Niko Capello, 26-11. 285: Youssif Hemida, Maryland, dec. David Jensen, 8-6.