Studebaker seeks to refine and gain extra edge

Five of Aaron Studebaker's six losses have come against ranked foes, and No. 14, 197-pound Studebaker says fixing a few things will help push him over the top. "A few small details now will make a big difference in March."


WRESTLING: NORTHWESTERN AT NEBRASKA 8 p.m. Friday • Devaney Center, Lincoln • BTN

If Aaron Studebaker needed a boost to propel him into the wrestling season's final stretch, the Nebraska junior got it last weekend.

A pair of third-period comebacks, including one in the final second, improved the 197-pound Studebaker to 17-6 on the season. He remains 14th in Inter Mat's national rankings.

Last Friday, Studebaker trailed 4-3 entering the third period before picking up a 6-4 decision over Andre Lee of Illinois. Then the next night against 15th-ranked Michael Boykin of North Carolina State, Studebaker trailed 3-1 before getting an escape with 32 seconds left and a single-leg takedown with half a second left for a 4-3 victory.

Studebaker, a Raymond Central graduate, was in a position to get that single-leg takedown for the final 25 seconds of the match before finally taking Boykin to the mat just before the final whistle.

"I knew I had the confidence to get that takedown, but in the moment, you really don't know," Studebaker said. "You're just working, working, working and hope it goes in your favor."

It was Studebaker's fourth win over a nationally ranked opponent this season. Five of his six losses have been to ranked foes, including a 2-1 tiebreaker loss to No. 1 Morgan McIntosh of Penn State and a pair of 4-2 defeats to No. 4 Nathan Burak of Iowa.

"I feel like I'm wrestling really well. There's just a few details I need to make sure I fix," Studebaker said. "A few small details now will make a big difference in March."

Studebaker tries to keep his momentum going at 8 p.m. Friday when the Huskers host Northwestern in the Big Ten regular-season finale. After the Huskers host the NWCA National Duals on Feb. 21, they head to the Big Ten meet during the first weekend of March and then the NCAA championships start March 17.

Studebaker had a strong showing at the national meet last year, going 3-2 and finishing one win away from All-America honors. He didn't secure his starting spot in NU's lineup until midway through last season, but then had some eye-opening performances.

"The difference between last year and this year is that last year nobody knew about me. The scouting wasn't there," Studebaker said. "I was going into the match (last year) with the mentality that the others don't know much about me. Now the roles are kind of reversed. We're in the age of social media, and in about five seconds you can YouTube someone and see their match."

Studebaker said last season was about establishing himself. Now his goal is to be a top-five wrestler and consistently compete with anyone in his weight class.

"I'm all about being a national champion, and the difference is a few takedowns to do that," he said.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1038, gene.schinzel@owh.com twitter.com/geneOWH

TBL: MARK MANNING

The Husker wrestling coach will be on "The Bottom Line" on Friday ahead of NU's "Tumble N Rumble" event against Northwestern.Omaha.com/bigred

NOTES

While all 10 of NU's wrestlers are ranked in the top 20, only two Northwestern wrestlers are. The Wildcats' top wrestler is sixth ranked Jason Tsirtsis, and that should set up the best match of the night at 149 pounds as NU's Jake Sueflohn is ranked fourth.

Sueflohn is one of four seniors the Huskers will honor Friday on senior night. The others are Anthony Abidin (141 pounds), Tyrell Galloway (141) and Austin Wilson (165).

Friday's dual is part of the Tumble N' Rumble promotion as the wrestling match will take place at the same time as NU's women's gymnastics meet on the Devaney Center floor.

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