True Freshman Mikey Labriola Going with the Flow at Nebraska

Nebraska freshman Mikey Labriola didn’t know the wrestlers he beat at the Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open were Nationally ranked – it wasn’t until his coaches informed him after winning the 174 lbs. title. “I had no idea who I was wrestling – but it was pretty cool to find out afterwards that I was beating ranked wrestlers.” That is the kind of person and wrestler Mikey Labriola is – he tends to go with the flow and simply enjoys wrestling.

It showed in his first ever collegiate event as he won the Daktronics Open with a win over redshirt senior Chris Pfarr (Minnesota) in the semifinals and downing 2-time NCAA qualifier David Kocer (South Dakota State) in the finals. Both Pfarr and Kocer entered the Tournament Nationally ranked in the top 20.

Labriola was a 2-time PIAA State Champion for Bethlehem Catholic and considered one of the Nation’s best seniors last year. He made the trip west to Nebraska where he finds himself enjoying time in one of college wrestling’s best rooms.

Last week Labriola wrestled off for a spot at 174 lbs. and went (1-1) falling to redshirt freshman Beau Breske in tiebreaker (2-1 TB). It was not a position Mikey was accustomed to being in but he says the two make each other better. “It’s not a bad thing at all, it keeps us competitive in the room, and I think it’s good for both of us.”

There are a few others in the Nebraska wrestling room that make Mikey Labriola better everyday. A wrestler by the name of Jordan Burroughs. Wrestling the World and Olympic Champion is something Mikey will not take for granted. “Wrestling with Jordan, it actually gives you a lot of confidence. I know when I go out on the mat I won’t wrestle anyone better than him.” Throw in World Silver medalist James Green and those are two of the best a young wrestler like Mikey Labriola could ask for.

Despite the massive amount of talent in Labriola’s workout partners, it was a coach that really sealed the deal for him picking Nebraska. That was Nebraska Associate Head Coach Bryan Snyder. Although he was a few years ahead of Mikey, okay maybe more than a few, the two have a special connection in District XI. Snyder, a 1997 graduate of Easton Area High School, was a 3-time PIAA State Medalist including a State Champion as a senior. He is entering his eighth season as a coach at Nebraska where he was one of the most decorated wrestlers for the Cornhuskers. Snyder was a 4-time NCAA All-American including a 2-time runner-up with a career record of (136-11).

“Our relationship is probably a little more personal than others on the team because of where we are both from. If I ever have any questions he is the first person I go to, plus we have similar styles. He is one of the main reasons I came to Nebraska.”

Labriola says he is trusting the process and that means he will be ready to go whenever he gets the call. As of right now Labriola says the plan is for him to redshirt but in keeping with his nature he isn’t sure if that is set in stone. “I honestly really don’t know much but as of right now I am redshirting.” The uncertainty doesn’t seem to bother him as he is looking forward to just competing. 

“The tournament I’m pretty excited for this season is Midlands. That is a really tough tournament and I’m looking forward to wrestling there.”

If his opening weekend results were any indication of what is to come – ranked wrestlers beware. Whether it is this season or next, Mikey Labriola is going to make an impact on the NCAA landscape, and until then he will continue to go with the flow.

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