The wrestling team jumped into its Atlantic Coast Conference season Friday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium, where it suffered a 33-3 defeat at the hands of the Virginia Cavaliers. Entering the meet undefeated in non-conference competition, the Blue Devils were handed their first loss of the season, dropping them to 5-1 overall, and 0-1 in the ACC.
"We knew that Virginia competed and barely lost to [North] Carolina, which lost to [N.C.] State," coach Clar Anderson said. "So we knew that this was going to be tougher than the competition we had previously faced."
The one bright spot for Duke was at the 167-pound weight class, where junior Matt Mapes came away with a narrow victory, and a minor decision, 3-2 over Virginia's John Qualter. Those were the only points that Duke would garner for the match. Besides Mapes' victory, it was a very tough day for the Blue Devils.
At the 126-lb. weight class, senior captain Chris Heckel suffered a defeat by the slimmest of margins, 4-3 to UVa's Matt Roth. Besides this defeat, and a 4-3 loss by Alex Hunt at the heavyweight division, the other matches were not close.
"Virginia is a very strong team," Anderson said. "They have five fifth-year seniors, and we don't redshirt anybody. They have a lot of experience."
Virginia swept the first six weight classes by a combined match score of 49-14, which did not include a fall at the 134-lb. weight class when the Cavaliers' Jason Mutarelli pinned Sean Meakim 2:14 into the match. After Mapes' victory prevented a shutout, the Blue Devils finished by dropping the final three weight classes of the night by a total tally of 36-17.
"It was a closer match than the score indicated," Anderson said. "But it could've been closer still."
With the win on Friday night, Virginia improves to 4-6 overall and 1-1 in the ACC. The Cavaliers have been plagued by injuries, much like Duke, which has lost senior Jon Seeber to a possible season-ending elbow injury. However, Virginia has come back strong, and with the victory over Duke on Friday and its win the next day against N.C. State, the Cavaliers are now tied for first place in the conference.