LINCOLN, Neb. – All five of No. 14 Nebraska’s nationally ranked wrestlers won their matches on Friday to lead the Huskers to an 18-15 upset of No. 5 Illinois at the NU Coliseum.
The Huskers improved to 9-3 on the season by earning their third consecutive victory against a ranked conference opponent. Nebraska also took down No. 11 Michigan and No. 18 Northwestern on the road last weekend. The Fighting Illini suffered their first loss of the season after opening with five consecutive wins.
Junior Shawn Nagel (133) opened the dual with a back-and-forth battle against No. 11 Daryl Thomas of Illinois. Nagel, however, couldn’t keep his momentum going from last weekend’s success as he fell by a 10-8 decision. With the loss, he drops to 12-10 on the season and 6-6 in duals.
The Huskers won the next three matches by decision to build an early 9-3 lead against the Illini. No. 19 Ridge Kiley (141) earned the first win by a 4-0 margin against Logan Arlis. He moved to 12-6 on the season and 7-2 in dual competition.
At 149 pounds, No. 12 Jake Sueflohn won an 8-1 decision against Illinois’ Caleb Ervin. The victory marked his 16th of the season as he improved to 7-2 in duals. Fellow sophomore James Green continued the NU momentum with his 9-4 decision against Matt Nora. Green, who is the No. 4 wrestler in the country at 157 pounds, improved to 8-0 in duals and 15-2 overall. He is 3-0 since returning from injury.
Senior Tyler Koehn earned the start at 165 pounds for the second time this season in duals. He lost a 10-4 decision to No. 8 Conrad Polz to cut the NU lead to 9-6. Koehn fell to 4-2 on the season and 1-1 in duals.
No. 4 Robert Kokesh (174) and No. 8 Josh Ihnen (184) responded with wins in the next two weight classes to give the Huskers a 15-6 lead. Kokesh, a sophomore, won an 8-3 decision against No. 8 Jordan Blanton. The victory marked Kokesh’s 20th consecutive of the season as he improved to 25-1 overall and 11-1 in duals. He also earned his sixth consecutive victory against a ranked opponent as he improved to 10-1 against ranked foes in 2012-13.
Ihnen, a senior, battled in a back-and-forth match against No. 18 Tony Dallago. Ihnen trailed 4-3 in the third period before a technical violation by Dallago followed by an escape secured a 5-4 win. Ihnen earned his 91st collegiate victory on Friday as he improved to 18-2 and 10-2 in duals.
The Illini bounced back as No. 11 Mario Gonzalez (197) took down Nebraska’s Caleb Kolb in a 4-3 decision. The match cut the Husker lead to 15-9 with two matches to go. Kolb trailed 3-0 in the first period, but a takedown in the second period and an escape in the third period kept him in the match before Gonzalez held on. Kolb dropped to 9-13 on the season and 4-8 in duals.
Sophomore Spencer Johnson made his third appearance of the season at heavyweight following a 1-1 weekend against the Wolverines and Wildcats. Johnson defeated Illinois’ Chris Lopez 3-1 to give the Huskers an 18-9 advantage heading into the final match.
At 125 pounds, freshman Eric Coufal was pinned by No. 5 Jesse Delgado of Illinois in 6:55, but it wasn’t enough as Nebraska held on for an 18-15 victory.