Friday afternoon Duke wrestling took down the Citadel in Cameron with an 18-16 victory bringing the Blue Devils to an impressive 4-0 record. Although Duke was trailing 3-7 after four weight classes, the tide of the meet changed when 150-pound freshman Bill Morris stepped onto the mat. After he brought Duke's score up to 9-7 the Blue Devils went on to take the meet.
"The Citadel is very competitive with their lightweights; [100 and] 18, 26, and 34" said coach Clar Anderson, "but I feel that as a team we did really well."
Although the Citadel won the 118-lb and 134-lb classes by 15-7 and 10-5 scores respectively, Duke took the 126-lb class with a decisive 9-3 win by senior Chris Heckel.
After the lightweights were finished, however, the Citadel ceased to dominate the match. Morris won his 150-lb class against Tommy Bell with a strong 11-4 finish. Originally Morris had expected to wrestle a more highly touted opponent.
"When I found out I was going to wrestle [Bell] I felt a lot more confident," said Morris.
Morris, who four years ago was nicknamed the 'Freshman sensation' by his high school newspaper, is once again living up to that title. He has wrestled three different weight classes this year and has often filled in for injured starters.
"[Morris] has been doing an exceptional job," said Anderson. "When we recruited him we knew he'd do well, we just didn't know which weight he would be in since he was still growing."
Morris has indeed been getting bigger. As a high school junior he wrestled at 103-lbs which is a vast difference from the 158-pounder he has become.
"That's a big change in a short amount of time," Anderson said, "and it's great that he's gotten that big and remained competitive in each of the classes."
Although excited to be wrestling in the heavier weight classes, Morris said he thought it was more challenging for him to be competing against the heavier wrestlers.
"Generally the guys in the higher weight classes are losing a lot of weight to go down to that class," said Morris. "I'm just losing a few pounds so I'm wrestling guys that are a lot bigger than me."
However, Morris' performance this year has proven he can keep up with the 'big boys'. His win on Friday further confirmed his abilities to compete with the heavier wrestlers. According to Anderson, Morris' victory was not at all surprising.
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"Based on what he's done so far this year, I always expect him to go in and do well," said Anderson.
Morris' skills, coupled with those of Heckel, junior Matt Mapes, and senior Jesse Raia, made up for the absence of two injured starters-sophomore Deuce Harris and senior Jon Seeber. Anderson explained that the contest against the Citadel was more difficult without the two starters, especially because Harris had been favored to win. However, Anderson said he was happy that the team's performance made up for the missing starters.
"I was pleased with the performances of all of our wrestlers," Anderson said. "We're making strides and hopefully we'll keep improving."