Hartmann dominant at All-Star Classic for Duke wrestling

<p>Redshirt senior Conner Hartmann defeated No. 5 Max Huntley of Michigan 8-1 at the NWCA All-Star Classic, one of the nation's marquee season-opening events.</p>

Redshirt senior Conner Hartmann defeated No. 5 Max Huntley of Michigan 8-1 at the NWCA All-Star Classic, one of the nation's marquee season-opening events.

Conner Hartmann dominated on a national stage Sunday night, signaling the beginning of an exciting time for Duke wrestling.

The third-ranked Hartmann claimed a resounding 8-1 victory against No. 5 Max Huntley of Michigan in the 197-pound weight class at the NWCA All-Star Classic at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta. The redshirt senior was the first Blue Devil ever to be invited to the invitational, which brings together many of the top wrestlers in the country to kick off the season and was nationally televised on ESPNU.

“This year was about trying to be more exciting, trying to put up more points each match,” Hartmann told GoDuke.com. “[I want to] leave people with the feeling that he’s not out there just trying to win, he’s out there trying to excite people.”

The match was essentially decided after the first period, with Hartmann controlling the final two periods to cruise to the win. The two-time All-American grabbed Huntley from behind and took him down just more than a minute into the match to take an early 3-0 lead. Takedowns are generally worth two points in wrestling, but the NWCA instituted an experimental three-point takedown scoring system for this classic.

“The three-point takedown is really interesting. I think it can make the match a little bit too quick to end sometimes,” Hartmann said. “I also feel like it makes bottom wrestling less important, but I still think it’s great in terms of getting people to be active on their feet.”

After Huntley escaped to earn his only point of the bout, Hartmann scored another takedown with just seconds remaining in the period to end the frame with a commanding 6-1 lead.

Hartmann opened the second stanza with an escape to earn another point and then remained disciplined and conservative for the rest of the round, not allowing any openings to let Huntley back into the contest. The third period was mostly spent on the mat, with Hartmann in control and earning a one-point bonus for at least one minute of riding time during the match.

“He took the wind out of him. He was patient, he grinded Huntley into the mat and it was really good to see,” Duke head coach Glen Lanham told GoDuke.com. “He’s definitely evolving his game, but you have to if you’re going to be a national champion, and that’s what he’s doing.”

The triumph was an impressive start to Hartmann’s redshirt senior campaign, which will cap off possibly the most decorated career in Duke wrestling history. The Port Orchard, Wash., native was last year’s ACC champion at 197 pounds and took home fifth and sixth place finishes in the NCAA championships in his redshirt sophomore and redshirt junior seasons, respectively. He was named an All-American in both of those years and now has a chance to become the Blue Devils’ first-ever three-time All-American.

“Somebody texted me and said that [the ESPNU announcers] said he had the most dominant performance of the night. Obviously, to dominate an All-American like he did, I agree with it—total dominance,” Lanham said. “He’s ready to roll. He’s ready to make a run. I feel pretty good about tonight—it was just a great indicator of where he is right now. He’s definitely on pace to bring home a title to Duke.”

Hartmann will join his teammates as Duke opens up its season Sunday at the Hokie Open in Blacksburg, Va.


Share and discuss “Hartmann dominant at All-Star Classic for Duke wrestling” on social media.