LINCOLN — Mark Manning felt throughout the preseason that newcomers would make a difference for the Nebraska wrestling team this season.
That was the case Sunday in its season-opening dual.
Husker newcomers won four matches, propelling NU to a 25-16 victory against Northwestern in front of 932 at Devaney Center.
“We saw some young guys ... learning how to win at this level,” Manning said. “That's good. It's a lot easier to learn when you win than when you lose. It's a real promising start for some of those guys.”
Nebraska won six of the 10 matches — three wins were by freshmen and another was by a junior college transfer competing in his first home match.
Freshmen Tim Lambert (125 pounds) and Colton McCrystal (133) won the dual's first two matches in overtime as the Huskers led throughout the day.
Lambert's match with Garrison White was tied 4-4 heading to the two 30-second overtime periods. Lambert got a reversal with 12 seconds left in the first overtime period, but White scored an escape with two seconds left in the first period and also escaped in the second to tie the match at 6-6. But 20 seconds into the next overtime period, Lambert got a takedown to win 8-6.
“I wrestled longer than I wanted to, but that happens. You can't control everything,” said Lambert, ranked 17th nationally in his weight class. “I would have liked to start off a little faster. ... I need to execute my offense quicker.”
McCrystal trailed most of his match against Dominick Malone before getting a takedown with 4 seconds left in regulation to tie it at 6-6. McCrystal then won with an escape in the second 30-second overtime period.
“He's a tough, hard-nosed kid. That's why we recruited him,” Manning said of McCrystal. “He's going to be a good one for us. He's got the mentality we want.”
McCrystal, a true freshman from Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, said conditioning was a key to his first win as a Husker.
“It was a nine-minute match and I never faltered with my pace. I owe that to the coaches pushing us every day. I felt good at the end of the match,” McCrystal said. “That was my first match for Nebraska, but I wrestle that match in practice every day. I wrestle kids that are tougher than that every day.”
Anthony Abidin, who won a junior college national title in 2012, followed with a 7-2 decision over Pat Greco at 141. Abidin gave up an early takedown, but was in control the rest of the way.
“Anthony opened up more as the match went on,” Manning said.
Nebraska's other freshman, T.J. Dudley at 184, recorded the Huskers' only pin. Dudley was up 4-3 after the first period before recording a pin against Jacob Berkowitz 42 seconds into the second period.
“T.J. is real dangerous. It's not surprising to see him get that pin because he's real funky, he's wrestles unorthodox,” Manning said. “He scrambles around, knows where he's at. He understands where his body needs to be at the right time, which is a nice ability to have.”
Northwestern won both matches that featured two ranked wrestlers. At 149, freshman Jason Tsirtsis, ranked ninth, got a takedown early in the third period and held on for a 3-2 win over fourth-ranked Jake Sueflohn. And at 165, No. 11 Pierce Harger pulled away to an 8-0 major decision over No. 20 Austin Wilson.
Nebraska returns to action next Sunday when it faces South Dakota State in a dual at Brookings, S.D.
125 pounds: Tim Lambert, NU, dec. Garrison White 8-6 2OT. 133: Colton McCrystal, NU, dec. Dominick Malone 7-6 OT. 141: Anthony Abidin, NU, dec. Pat Greco 7-2. 149: Jason Tsirtsis, NW, dec. Jake Sueflohn 3-2. 157: James Green, NU, major dec. Ben Sullivan 19-10. 165: Pierce Harger, NW, major dec. Austin Wilson 8-0. 174: Robert Kokesh, NU, won by forfeit. 184: T.J. Dudley, NU, pinned Jacob Berkowitz, 3:42. 197: Alex Polizzi, NW, dec. Caleb Kolb 4-2. Hwt: Mike McMullan, NW, pinned Nyle Bartling 2:58.
* * *
Video: Highlights from Nebraska wrestling