Hartmann finishes third at Southern Scuffle for Duke wrestling

The Blue Devils finished in 12th place, a program best at the Scuffle

<p>Redshirt senior Conner Hartmann shook off his first loss of the season with back-to-back top-10 wins to claim third place at 197 pounds at the Southern Scuffle Saturday.</p>

Redshirt senior Conner Hartmann shook off his first loss of the season with back-to-back top-10 wins to claim third place at 197 pounds at the Southern Scuffle Saturday.

Conner Hartmann found himself in an unfamiliar position Saturday—the losing end of a decision.

But the redshirt senior responded to his first defeat of the season with a pair of dominant performances to wind up in third place at 197 pounds at the two-day Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tenn. Seven Blue Devils emerged from Friday's first day of competition, with sophomore Mitch Finesilver picking up his third win against a ranked opponent to finish fifth at 149 pounds.

As a team, the Blue Devils finished 12th—a six-spot improvement from a year ago and their best finish at the event in program history.

Hartmann breezed through his first three matches—including a 13-0 quarterfinal decision against Parker Hines of Air Force in his first bout of the day Saturday—before taking on Minnesota's Brett Pfarr in the semifinals in a top-five matchup. The Port Orchard, Wash., native—ranked No. 3 in the country—fought the fifth-ranked Golden Gopher all the way to the end, but a late takedown earned Pfarr the victory and ended Hartmann's bid for a Southern Scuffle title.

Instead, Hartmann responded with back-to-back victories in the consolation bracket against more top-10 competition. The All-American beat No. 10 Zach Nye 5-0 to reach the third-place match, then dispatched No. 8 Jacob Smith in a tight 3-2 contest to wind up on the podium.

Finesilver fell into the consolation bracket at the hands of North Carolina's Evan Henderson, who topped the Greenwood Village, Colo., native by a 5-2 margin. He suffered another loss to Justin Oliver of Central Michigan by a narrow 8-6 margin, but bounced back to claim fifth place with a 10-8 decision against No. 12 Anthony Collica.

After breaking in 2016 in tournament play, Duke returns to dual action—and the start of its ACC slate—Wednesday evening with a home match against No. 3 N.C. State.

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