Until the Blue Devils downed Appalachian State 24-15 Wednesday evening in their home debut, the only win on their record was to Stevens Tech, a Division III team. Duke hopes to build on the momentum of its first solid win when it faces Boston University (5-3) at home Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Devils introduced Card Gymnasium as their home in that meet, moving away from their prior venue of Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“It was exciting to wrestle in that venue,” Duke head coach Glen Lanham said. “The atmosphere was great, the match was exciting, our guys wrestled hard and we came out with a win against a pretty good team.”
Wednesday evening, the Blue Devils (2-5) set the tone of the matches, pushed the pace and initiated the offense. Making the first move on offense has been one of their goals all season.
“I would definitely like to see that take place again when we wrestle BU on Saturday,” Lanham said.
Since Duke’s win, the team has wasted no time in its preparation for its second straight home meet. In practice, the Blue Devils have focused on closing out the third period stronger in matches and wrestling harder on the edges. Lanham warned his wrestlers against complacency, urging them to earn as many points as possible even when they are holding a comfortable lead.
The Terriers participated in two of the same tournaments as the Blue Devils—the Keystone Classic in November and the Southern Scuffle in January. They finished ninth out of 15 in the Keystone Classic and 24th out of 25 in the Southern Scuffle, while Duke placed seventh and 16th, respectively.
“We faced a lot of nationally-ranked wrestlers in those tournaments,” Boston University junior Nestor Taffur said. “It’s good to have that kind of competition because it better prepares us for the national tournament.”
The Terriers have won more dual meets than the Blue Devils, but they have not faced any ranked opponents, and two of their five wins came against non-Division I teams. Duke battled out a tougher schedule with matchups against then-No. 13 Northwestern, then-No. 14 Michigan, No. 9 Virginia Tech and No. 11 Virginia. Although Boston University has not been battle-tested and has fared more poorly in early-season tournaments than the Blue Devils, Terrier head coach Carl Adams is confident that his team can put pressure on the Duke wrestlers.
“We’re an aggressive team,” he said. We focus on dominating on the feet, and we often go for the pin.”
The Blue Devils know what is coming to them Saturday.
“We have our hands full,” Lanham said.