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    Allred's Big Ten Title is just the beginning

    By Dave Melton
    Photo: Nebraska Athletics


    Nebraska redshirt sophomore Silas Allred was certainly never lacking for confidence after a high school career that included a pair of state titles at Shenandoah before graduating in 2020.


    But when the coaches at Nebraska told the 197-pounder what he was capable of as a college wrestler, it sent his belief in his own abilities to new heights.


    “When you have people who you really respect telling you that the sky’s the limit, you have no choice but to believe it,” he said. “I’d be foolish not to believe it. When your coaching staff tells you that you can be great and you buy into it, good things happen.”


    One of those “good things” happened Sunday night at the University of Michigan, when Allred beat Penn State’s Max Dean 6-3 in the championship round, crowning Allred as a Big Ten champion.


    Allred’s record now stands at 26-5 this season, heading into the NCAA Wrestling Championships set for St. Patrick Day’s weekend in Tulsa.


    Allred’s road from Shenandoah to this Big Ten title for Allred included a slew of twists and turns caused by the pandemic, which limited the number of matches he wrestled during the 2020-21 season. Still, Allred immediately raised eyebrows when he arrived in Nebraska’s wrestling room that fall — especially the ones belonging to Eric Schultz, who was a Big Ten runner-up last year.


    “The first time we wrestled at a practice, he threw me to my back and pinned me,” Schultz said of Allred. “I was like, ‘Who is this kid?’”


    The only other person who may not have been surprised by Allred’s early displays for Nebraska was head coach Mark Manning.


    “When we got him, I knew he was special,” Manning said. “He didn’t get many matches in but some of that adversity drove him to be better and better.”


    Allred took a redshirt last season before hitting the mats heavy this season. While he maintained that the mental side of the sport — such as the confidence he gained from conversations with his coaches — has been paramount to success, there are plenty of wrestling lessons he’s conquered along the way to his conference title.


    “It’s hard to put into words because so much of wrestling is mental preparation,” he said. “Hand fighting has been a huge factor for me, just shooting only when I win my ties and not taking poor shots. If you take poor shots against big 197-pounders, they’re going to punish you for it. Cleaning things up and only taking good, solid attacks has made a world of difference.”


    Schultz couldn’t stop raving about how much Allred had improved at wrestling on top.


    “It’s gotten a lot better from that first year on campus,” he said. “He’s probably one of the best riders in his weight class in the whole country.”


    Combining those physical traits with a strong mindset is what led Allred to the Big Ten title and has him lined up for more success down the road, as Manning explained.


    “He knew he could be where he finished (on Sunday),” Manning said. “We have to reinvent that again in two weeks, but he really enjoyed this moment because he did a super job. Seeing his development this year, starting back in November all the way until now: he’s made a jump of two or three levels. Now it’s going to take a different mindset and maturity, but he’s very mature for his age and that helps a lot.”


    Allred was also looking in the direction of that upcoming NCAA tournament, hoping to have similar success on that even bigger stage. But he still took time to savor the victory he won last weekend, posing for countless photos with friends and family between an even longer string of congratulatory hugs and handshakes.


    “It’s not just a memory for me but for all of them,” Allred said, pointing in the direction of the red-clad section of fans in his corner. “They’re all a part of this. They’ve all — in some way, shape or form — played a part in my development as a wrestler and to share this moment with them is just awesome.”


    Then, a few breaths later, Allred looked ahead.


    “Being a Big Ten champ is awesome but it’s not the goal,” he said. “At the end of the day, I want to be the best wrestler I can possibly be. Whether it’s a national champion or Olympic champion or world champion, whatever it may be, I want to be the best that I can be.”


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