Blue Devil wrestling splits final regular season matches against Michigan, Michigan State

Redshirt junior Marcus Cain was one of only two Blue Devils to win both matches this weekend.
Redshirt junior Marcus Cain was one of only two Blue Devils to win both matches this weekend.

Duke wrapped up its regular season campaign this weekend in the Great Lakes State with a pair of dual matches against Big Ten opponents.

Friday night the Blue Devils took down Michigan State 19-13, before falling 33-7 to No. 15 Michigan Saturday in their last dual of the year. The road trip marks the first time in history that a Duke team has beaten two Big Ten teams in the same season, with the first coming in December after the Blue Devils toppled Maryland in the Grapple at the Garden.

For just the third time since 1990-91, Duke (11-7) reached the 11-win milestone, marking the most successful campaign in Durham since 2007-08, when the team posted 12 victories. Five of the Blue Devils' seven losses were suffered against top-25 foes—including single-digit nail biters against ACC opponents Pittsburgh, North Carolina and Virginia Tech. In addition, one victory came against in-state rival and then-No. 25 North Carolina State.

A fast start Friday propelled the Blue Devils to victory. Although the Spartans (5-12) won the last three matches in the dual—including one major decision victory—they could not claw their way back from a 16-point deficit to top the visiting squad.

Freshman Mitch Finesilver, redshirt sophomore Evan Botwin, redshirt junior Marcus Cain, redshirt senior Immanuel Kerr-Brown, redshirt sophomore Brian Dorsey and redshirt junior Trey Adamson provided six straight victories for Duke between 133 and 174—a lead that proved insurmountable for Michigan State.

Finesilver continued to build on his success against Virginia Tech by scoring an 8-5 minor decision against sophomore Garth Yenter, giving him nine wins on the season. Botwin picked up a major decision victory at 141 and Dorsey added a 2-0 decision at 165—bringing both wrestlers to win number 17 for the year.

With a 6-2 minor decision at 157, Kerr-Brown captured victory number 75 for his career in a Duke singlet—an impressive mark for the Rome, Ga. native as he is one of less than 20 Blue Devil wrestlers to ever reach that plateau.

Despite the win Friday, the Blue Devils could not maintain the momentum facing off against a tough Michigan squad that boasted six nationally ranked grapplers in its starting lineup. The Wolverines (8-6) brought everything they had, winning eight out of the 10 matches.

Cain and Adamson were the only two Duke wrestlers to post wins on both nights of competition.

In the 149-pound weight class, Cain scored a major decision victory 11-3 to put Duke on the board for the first time Saturday. With wins on back-to-back nights, the Winston-Salem, N.C., native now has 18 victories on the year, including a 9-4 dual meet record.

Adamson provided the most excitement in the two duals for the Blue Devils. Against Michigan State the Riverton, Utah native took a hard fought match against senior Nick Proctor into overtime, where he scored a takedown on the edge of the mat early into the extra period to seal the victory 6-4.

Saturday, Adamson made sure he did not have to wait for overtime to have his hand raised at the center of the mat. The redshirt junior erased the riding time advantage of redshirt senior Jake Salazar and broke through with a takedown in the final 10 seconds to win 4-3. His record now stands at 14-7 heading into the postseason.

A notable absence in the lineup for Duke was No. 7 Conner Hartmann—the team’s top-ranked grappler—in his usual 197 spot. With a 16-2 record, Hartmann is the top-ranked ACC wrestler in his weight class.

Once the Blue Devils arrive back in Durham, they will have a week off before preparing for the forthcoming postseason. With ACC Championships on the horizon March 8 in Pittsburgh, it is now or never for the team to show what they can bring to the mat.


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