Duke came into Tuesday looking for its first win of the season against a ranked opponent.
In fact, an unranked Appalachian State handed a ranked Blue Devil team a loss just a season ago, and it would have only been fitting if Duke could get revenge.
But any hopes for the Blue Devils were dashed right after intermission, with Duke trailing 10-8. The Blue Devils gave up 15 of the next 18 points, as the No. 20 Mountaineers defeated Duke 25-11 at Card Gymnasium in one of the Blue Devils’ four home matches of the season.
“They went right through us,” Duke head coach Glen Lanham said. “Those guys just beat us up. That’s disheartening for us. I know our guys are tougher than that.”
Certainly, there were a few highlights for Duke. No. 6 heavyweight Jacob Kasper landed a dramatic victory against No. 12 Denzel Dejournette with just 15 seconds left, sending Duke fans—many of whom were present thanks to the incentive of Krzyzewskiville’s attendance policy—into a roar.
Kasper trailed Dejournette when he tried grabbing the Mountaineer competitor’s left leg, then successfully took him down and held on in the waning seconds for the win. It marked Kasper’s 14th consecutive win, moving him to 5-0 against ranked opponents this year.
“I was real light-headed, but stepping on that line I told myself, ‘If it’s going to kill me, I’m going to get this,’” the redshirt junior said. “It’s why I was able to pull it in and finish the match. He was broke out there at the end.”
Duke’s other ranked wrestler did not share nearly the same success. No. 15 Connor Bass, facing Nick Kee at 174 pounds, looked gassed by the first intermission. The senior eventually fell 12-2 in a major decision, sending him to a 15-6 record and 4-3 clip against ranked opponents.
“He’s been sick. But it’s like, ‘If you’re sick, don’t wrestle. But if you’re going to wrestle then wrestle,’” Lanham said. “There’s no excuses. He just got beat up.”
The Blue Devils were unable to upset any ranked Mountaineers, but they did land three total victories during the evening. Redshirt junior Jake Faust secured a 4-2 win at 157 pounds after nearly pinning Gavin Londoff. Faust earned two points for the takedown, then held on to earn his fourth win of the season.
Redshirt sophomore Zach Finesilver’s effort was also a positive for Duke, as he bounced back from a 16-0 technical fall loss against second-ranked Kevin Jack of N.C. State last week with a 19-3 technical fall victory of his own against Irvin Enriquez at 141 pounds. At multiple points it seemed like Finesilver might earn a pin, but he still led 8-2 at the end of the first intermission before securing 11 more points.
“He was in a slump offensively on his feet. He broke through tonight, that’s from hard work,” Lanham said. “His re-shots looked really good.”
Duke nearly earned a fourth victory, but with the remaining crowd hollering in the night’s final match, the Blue Devils dropped an overtime decision to end the evening. Junior Alec Schenk was tied 5-5 at 184 pounds heading into the fourth period, and David Peters-Logue quickly went on the attack and earned a takedown to end the match with 25 seconds left.
As a team, Appalachian State jumped out a 3-0 lead after Randall Diabe defeated Luke Farinaro 3-1 at 197 pounds. Kasper tied the score at three, only for Vito Pasone to grab an 11-3 major decision against Thayer Atkins at 125 pounds and Colby Smith a 5-0 decision against Cole Baumgartner for a 10-3 Mountaineer advantage.
Matthew Zovistoski extended Appalachian State’s lead from 10-8 to 14-8, which was followed by Faust’s victory to halve Duke’s deficit.
But from there, it was all Mountaineers. Forrest Przybysz defeated Garrett Neff 9-0, Kee beat Bass 12-2 and Peters-Logue won 7-5.
The Blue Devils are back in action Sunday on the road at Navy, one of four straight matches away from home.
“I have to apologize to the crowd, because our guys are like, ‘Oh, we can’t get people in.’ And then the people come, you’ve got to wrestle better than that,” Lanham said. “I told our guys, ‘If they don’t come back, that’s on you. You’ve got to wrestle better.’”
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.