Duke wrestling gears up for Grapple at the Garden

The Blue Devils head to New York to compete under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.

No—not in basketball.

The Duke wrestling team hits the mat Sunday to square off in three dual competitions in the third annual Grapple at the Garden. On a day that features an array of Division I, II and III colleges and highly recognized grade schools—in addition to a feature match between Kyle Dake and Arsen Julfalakyan—the Blue Devils will match up against Northern Iowa, George Mason and Maryland at the historic venue.

Coming off a two-week break for finals, the Blue Devils (1-1) are competing in just their third dual competition this season. Following a tough loss in the opener to then-No. 9 Nebraska, the Blue Devils rallied on the road Dec. 6 to beat Division II program Shorter 19-18.

Sunday’s competition is shaping up to be tougher than Shorter, however.

First up in the duals is Northern Iowa (2-1) at 8 a.m. The Panthers hosted the UNI Open in their last competition, placing 14 medalists and winning in one weight class. The lone champion, sophomore Curt Maas, will lead the team against Duke in the 174-pound weight class. Maas is 14-2 overall, undefeated in duals and currently ranked in the top four in Mid-American rankings.

Following Northern Iowa, Duke will move to Mat Five at 10 a.m. to face off against George Mason (4-2). The Patriots last competed Dec. 6, defeating Franklin and Marshall 28-10 while taking eight out of 10 matches in the dual.

In the last dual of the day for the Blue Devils, they will compete against former Atlantic Coast Conference foe Maryland (4-5) at noon. The Terrapins started the season on a four match-winning streak, but have fallen on hard times of late, dropping five in a row—including four against ranked opponents.

No. 11 Shyheim Brown was the lone bright spot for Maryland in the team’s last outing against then-No. 4 Penn State. Competing in the 141-pound weight class, the sophomore is 10-1 overall and leads the team in dual wins with six.

Duke and Maryland have a common opponent—Nebraska—which defeated both squads earlier this season. Duke dropped the dual 45-3, while Maryland was blown out as well, 42-3.

Redshirt senior Immanuel Kerr-Brown will lead the way for the Blue Devils. The captain recently moved into the No. 15 spot in the 157-pound weight class and has posted an 8-2 record so far this season. After a 13-1 decision win in his homecoming at Shorter, he will look to improve his 1-1 dual record this weekend.

After the Blue Devils wrap up contests for 2014 with the Grapple at the Garden, they will travel to Chattanooga, Tenn., Jan. 1 to compete in the Southern Scuffle for their first competition of 2015.


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