Nebraska led third-ranked Iowa with two matches left earlier this month. Then the Huskers were tied with No. 2 Ohio State with three matches to go last weekend.
NU lost both duals, but coach Mark Manning always wants his team building toward March. Those showings were good indications Nebraska is headed in the right direction.
“Everyone has ways to grow, but I’m excited about the team we’re going to be in March because we’re going to be a dangerous team,” said senior Tyler Berger after the Iowa dual.
The seventh-ranked Huskers end their dual season at 1 p.m. Saturday against No. 25 Stanford. The dual was originally scheduled to start at 7 p.m. but was moved up because of weather concerns.
After facing the Cardinal, Nebraska will focus on the Big Ten championships, which start March 9, and the national meet beginning March 21.
Eight Huskers are ranked this week, led by Berger. He’s second at 157 pounds with a 21-2 record — his last three wins have been against top-10 opponents. He has 109 career wins, and a victory Saturday would put him alone in 15th place on the program’s all-time list.
Freshman Mikey Labriola, at 20-4, is second on the team in wins. He has won five straight matches, the past two against ranked opponents.
Stanford is 9-3 in duals this season. The Cardinal upended nationally ranked Arizona State to start February, then lost at Purdue 22-9 and Indiana 30-7 the next weekend.
Three Stanford individuals are ranked. Nathan Traxler, 12th at 197, will face No. 13 Eric Schultz. Schultz is 2-7 against ranked opponents this season, but the sophomore nearly picked up his biggest win as a Husker last Sunday against second-ranked Kollin Moore. Schultz recorded a takedown in the final seconds to tie the match 5-5, but the Buckeye answered with a takedown 13 seconds into sudden victory for the win.
Stanford’s other ranked wrestlers are Requir van der Merwe, 15th at 149, and Gabe Townsell, 20th at 125. Townsell, who qualified for nationals last season, will face No. 16 Zeke Moisey.
The Huskers will honor their five seniors Saturday. The group includes 133-pound Brian Peska, an Omaha Skutt graduate.