Duke’s momentum from its win against Cleveland State did not carry over to its matches this weekend, as it fell to Ohio State in its final match of the Fall semester.
“Bringing the No. 9-ranked team in the country in… those guys, they have wrestling savvy and they’re tough,” Blue Devil head coach Glen Lanham said to Goduke.com. “We have the talent, we just have to get to that point. I sound a little down, but I feel like our effort was there. Our guys wrestled hard. We’re close.”
The No. 9 Buckeyes (2-0) got off to an early start as redshirt junior Logan Stieber defeated Blue Devil freshman Xaviel Ramos in the 141-pound weight class. Stieber is the reigning NCAA champion at 133 pounds and was named an All-American each of his first two seasons at Ohio State. Duke freshman Connor Bass fell to Ian Paddock in the next contest, giving the Buckeyes a quick 8-0 lead.
But the Blue Devils won their first match of the night with redshirt junior Immanuel Kerr-Brown defeating Randall Languis at 157 pounds. Kerr-Brown clinched his with a takedown to put him up 7-6 in the final seconds of the match. His win put Duke on the board and also improved Kerr-Brown's record to a perfect 4-0 on the season.
“It didn’t cross my mind that, ‘Oh man, I don’t think I can do this,’” Kerr-Brown said. “I ignored it and kept going and did what my coaches told me to do. It feels really good [to be undefeated].”
Following Kerr-Brown was the Blue Devils’ second victor of the night, redshirt sophomore Marcus Cain at 165 pounds. Cain notched an easy win against Buckeye Joe Grandominico, getting an early takedown and sailing to a 5-2 decision to put the Blue Devils within two points.
“I like the way [Immanuel Kerr-Brown] came back and wrestled hard and Marcus [Cain too],” Lahman said. “I like the fact they didn’t quit, but now I feel like we have to start closing tight matches."
But the Blue Devils’ fortune from their back-to-back wins was quickly reversed with two consecutive defeats. After redshirt sophomore Trey Adamson fell in a close 10-9 match, and Ohio State redshirt sophomore Kenny Courts handily beat freshman Jacob Kasper 11-5. Courts is ranked No. 8 in the country for his weight class.
Down by eight points, the Blue Devils’ final victory of the night came three matches later from Conner Hartmann at 197 pounds. The redshirt sophomore, who is No. 18 in his weight class, easily defeated Ohio State redshirt freshman Josh Fox 9-1 to make the score 14-10 in favor of the Buckeyes.
Duke, however, finished the match with three straight defeats in the heavyweight, 125- and 133-pound divisions. Blue Devil redshirt freshman Evan Botwin put up a fight against Ohio State redshirt freshman Nick Roberts, but Roberts’ takedown in the second period of their contest gave him the 8-6 edge. To close the match, Duke freshman Alex Elsea fell to No. 14 Johnni DiJulius with a technical fall in his collegiate debut, giving DiJulius a 15-0 shutout score. The redshirt sophomore’s win also clinched victory for the Buckeyes, who routed the Blue Devils by a 25-10 score.
“The frustrating part is… we’re kind of losing because the guys are not really buying into what we’re telling them in tight situations,” Lahman said. “Now we have to find a way to wrestle hard and win.”
Duke has now completed its fall slate and do not compete again until January, when they go against some of the nation’s top competition in the Southern Scuffle. Participants include reigning NCAA national champions Penn State and four other ACC teams—Pittsburgh, Virginia, North Carolina and N.C. State.
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