Brad Vering won everywhere he went, from small-town Nebraska to the world’s biggest stage.
The only native Nebraskan to win a national wrestling championship at NU, Vering took his success to the international level, representing the U.S. in a pair of Olympics, claiming a world silver medal and winning gold at a Pan Am Games.
After winning three state titles at Howells (going 148-2 in his career along the way), Vering added an NCAA crown in 2001 as a junior for the Huskers with a dramatic 2-1 win in the finals. His triumph came just one second into the sudden-victory round.
But he was just getting started.
Vering would be a U.S. world team member four of the next six seasons; won U.S. nationals crowns five times (including three straight from 2003 to ’05); competed in the 2004 and ’08 Olympics; and netted gold at the ’07 Pan-American Games.
Fifth-place finishes in the world in 2002 and ’03 lit a fire that helped push Vering to a 2007 world silver medal, part of the first Greco-Roman team championship for the United States.
“It was special because Greco-Roman is such an old sport,” Vering said. “To be a part of the first world championship ... it was a long time coming. It took a lot of development and a lot of work.”
His career ended in a bit of disappointment as Vering — expected to contend for a medal coming off the silver at the world championships — was bounced from the 2008 Olympics after just two matches.
The wrestlers who met for the gold that year were a combined 0-5 against Vering.
“(2007) was definitely one of my best years of my career for sure,” Vering said. “I was wrestling at a high level, competing with the best guys in the world and beating them.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about that Olympics. In 2004, I was going in and just letting it roll. Whatever happened was going to happen. I was going for one reason (in 2008) and that was to win it.”
Played for: Howells High and Nebraska Cornhuskers
Best athlete from Nebraska played with or against: Kurt Bohaboj of Howells. National qualifier in wrestling for UNO and all-state running back in high school.
Best moment as an athlete: Winning an NCAA title for Nebraska in 2000 and competing in the Olympics in Athens in 2004.
Early sign of greatness: When he won Junior Nationals as a junior in high school, his first national title.
Vering was No. 68 in the inaugural Nebraska 100 list in 2005. See more about the 2005 list »