The Nebraska wrestling team starts its season on the road during the first two weekends, but the Huskers are providing a sneak preview Friday night with their intrasquad meet.
The free event, which starts at 7 p.m. at the Devaney Center, will help finalize NU’s starting lineup for Sunday’s Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open in Brookings, S.D.
“It lets our guys get out under the lights,” said Nebraska coach Mark Manning of Friday’s wrestle-offs. “Obviously there’s (lineup) changes throughout the year, but you kind of want to know who has the upper hand right now.
“It will be interesting to see some of these young guys and see how much improvement they’ve made since the summer and early fall.”
The Huskers return six who qualified for the NCAA championships last season, including All-Americans Josh Ihnen (184 pounds) and James Green (157). NU also had six wrestlers rated in this fall’s D1WC preseason rankings — all six were between 141 and 184 pounds.
Manning said starting spots for many of his team’s weight classes are still open.
“165 is a weight class where we have a lot of talent,” Manning said. “It will be interesting to see who comes out of there. I think it’s the same thing at 133.”
Manning said sophomore Robert Kokesh, who was sixth in the preseason rankings after compiling a 30-7 record last season at 165 pounds, has moved up to 174. Kokesh will compete for the starting spot against senior Tyler Koehn, who was 20-13 at 174 last season and also was ranked nationally this preseason.
Kokesh and Koehn both qualified for the national meet last season.
“We have two pretty quality guys at that weight class,” Manning said.
After Friday’s event, the Huskers head to South Dakota. Manning expects 15 to 20 teams to be competing there, and he’s planning to take 20 of his wrestlers.
“It’s a good time to get guys some experience and get back in the competition mode,” Manning said. “It’s good to get some matches under our belts.
“I feel good about our team. A year older doesn’t make you better, but I think the work they’ve put in over the spring and summer has taken them to another level and we’re really looking forward to the season.”
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