TULSA, Okla. — Nebraska’s Mikey Labriola will wrestle on Saturday for the program’s first national championship since 2011.
Labriola, ranked second at 174 pounds, secured the chance Friday with a 3-1 overtime victory over Virginia Tech’s Mekhi Lewis at the NCAA national meet in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Bugged by an elbow injury, Labriola said on ESPN: “It doesn’t matter. A national championship is what matters now.”
The Huskers have not had a national champion since Jordan Burroughs won a title more than decade ago during his run of dominance that led to Olympic gold.
Labriola was the only Nebraska wrestler to push through to the gold medal match Friday after being one of four to garner All-American status by reaching the semifinals.
“It means so much,” Labriola said of an emotional post-match hug with coach Mark Manning and others. “I wouldn’t be here without them. They’ve made me the person I am on and off the mat and they prepared me for this. All glory to them.”
So far all of Labriola’s wins have been via decision. He beat Lehigh’s Tyler Stoltzfus 9-6 in the first round and Utah Valley’s Demetrius Romero 3-1 in the second round.
Earlier Friday, Labriola edged Missouri’s Peyton Mocco 4-3.
Liam Cronin (125), Brock Hardy (141) and Peyton Robb (157) each fell in their semifinal matches.
Cronin lost to second-seeded Patrick Glory of Princeton 8-2. Top-seeded Real Woods of Iowa scored a major decision on No. 4 Hardy. Robb lost a close one, 5-3, to Penn State’s Levi Haines.
Silas Allred, who was a Big Ten champion, narrowly missed All-American status by suffering a 1-0 loss in the blood rounds to Iowa’s Jacob Warner.
Notable: Iowa’s Spencer Lee, a three-time national champion on a quest for a fourth at 125 pounds, fell in the semifinals to fourth-seeded Matt Ramos of Purdue.