Although the Blue Devils had a disappointing regular season, a trio of competitors rallied Saturday to punch tickets to the NCAA championship.

Duke finished last in the six-team ACC with 24.5 points Saturday at Reynolds Coliseum, but redshirt junior Jacob Kasper, senior Connor Bass and redshirt junior Jake Faust all qualified for NCAAs. Kasper took second in the heavyweight competition, and Bass and Faust also finished in the top four in their respective weight classes to advance to St. Louis March 16.

“It could be worse, you could qualify none,” Blue Devil head coach Glen Lanham told “We’ve got three going. Obviously we wanted to do a little better but we had four guys carry the bulk of the tournament and you’re going to place last if you have four guys scoring most of your points.”

Kasper, who was seeded second, took on Pittsburgh’s Ryan Solomon at heavyweight in the semifinal round, and sealed his NCAA bid with a dramatic 2-1 decision in double overtime.

After a loss to the redshirt junior two weeks earlier, Kasper managed to escape twice to send the bout into overtime, and then again in the second overtime with 15 seconds left to pull off the victory.

In the battle for the ACC title, Kasper took on the top seed and No. 4 Ty Walz of Virginia Tech. Kasper got behind early and was never able to come out on top, losing to Walz in a 6-3 decision, earning runner-up and All-ACC honors for the second time in his career after taking second at 184 pounds in 2015.

The No. 5 heavyweight in the nation will now turn his attention to NCAAs. 

“Kasper wrestled hard in the semifinal but then you have to make adjustments,” Lanham said on Kasper’s title match. “His fakes weren’t there; he got caught flat-footed on a couple shots. Now we have to make those adjustments."

Bass at 174 pounds and junior Alex Schenk at 184 both started out the final team event of the year with wins in their opening bouts. Bass dominated Pittsburgh's Cam Jacobson with a 21-4 technical fall, and Schenk had a closer 2-0 decision against North Carolina's Elijah Kerr-Brown.

Faust had a tougher start, dropping a 10-2 major decision to Virginia's Andrew Atkinson to fall into the consolation bracket. He was soon joined by Bass and Schenk, who suffered major decision losses in the semifinals but bounced back with Faust in the consolation semifinals with victories to keep their NCAA hopes alive.

“You train for so long, so to actually go up there and do what you’re supposed to do is more of a relief than anything,” Bass told

Bass got the 9-4 victory with a decision against Virginia’s Tyler Askey to put him into the consolation final against N.C. State’s Nick Reenan.

As a senior, a win against Reenan was Bass’ last shot to secure a spot in NCAAs for the first time in his career.

“I had expected myself to qualify last year, so when I didn’t it was a big let down,” Bass said. “For me, it was just laser focus throughout the season. It was never about wanting to place at [the Southern] Scuffle, to me it was I want to compile wins, build my name, and secure my spot for NCAAs. My one focus was, I’m not leaving this sport without qualifying.”

Bass was in control from the beginning of the bout, leading 5-1 by the second period and clinching his berth and his third-place finish with a 6-2 decision. 

After starting the season ranked but struggling, Bass was able to redeem himself at the perfect time. 

“It’s exciting to see a kid who has bought into hard work and putting in the time,” Lanham said. “I’m excited to see the look on his face when he gets out to St. Louis and sees that he’s one of the best guys in the country wrestling.”

Schenk’s consolation semifinals win against Pittsburgh's Zach Bruce came in the form of a first-period pin that advanced him to the consolation final. However, he then fell to Virginia’s Will Schany in a 5-3 decision and was unable to grab an NCAA bid with a fourth-place finish. 

However, Faust gave the team its third NCAA qualifier with a consolation semifinals upset against No. 2 seed Thomas Bullard of N.C. State at 157 pounds, advancing to NCAAs for the second straight year. 

“Jake Faust brought me to tears—to see a kid come back and want to wrestle, and be able to get a spot at nationals is big for us,” Lanham said. “That’s definitely a bright spot in the tournament.”

Faust went on to compete for third place, but with his NCAA berth already locked and a slight injury, he injury defaulted to take fourth place and not risk further injury.

He, Bass and Kasper will now find out their official NCAA championship seeds Wednesday.