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Duke wrestling unable to right the ship as losing streak balloons to 4

<p>Mitch Finesilver is on track to have a great season.</p>

Mitch Finesilver is on track to have a great season.

Although the Blue Devils boast individual athletes with the chops to compete for a national title, Duke has been plagued with depth issues all season, leaving the Blue Devils in dire straits at the start of dual meet play.

And despite Duke's standout wrestlers turning heads, the Blue Devils' shorthanded roster could not snap a now four-meet skid.

Duke fell both to No. 8 N.C. State 30-12 Friday in Raleigh, at Reynolds Coliseum and Old Dominion 24-17 Sunday in Norfolk, Va., at the Ted Constant Center. Although Mitch Finesilver, Matt Finesilver and Kaden Russell all turned in standout performances, openings at the 125-pound and 138-pound weight classes prevented the Blue Devils from notching a road win.

"We've got to get a little bit more depth," Duke head coach Glen Lanham said. "We're going into some of these matches and giving up 12 and six points. I felt that overall, we competed hard. The guys competed well. We had a big win from Mitch Finesilver and Matt Finesilver coming back and getting a big win, the guys wrestled well, if we can do that going into the season we'll be fine."

In the first four bouts of Duke's ACC opener against the Wolfpack, N.C. State dominated the ledger. In the heavyweight opener, Araad Fisher fell to Deonte Wilson on a tight, single-takedown 2-0 decision. From there, N.C. State built a nearly insurmountable 20-0 lead off a technical fall in the 125, a forfeit in the 133 and a 1:06 fall in the 141.

However, No. 6 Mitch Finesilver, who had been cruising through opponents all season, flipped the script on the home team with a 10-0 major decision on No. 8 Justin Oliver. Setting the pace with an early takedown and never letting up, the 149-pound Finesilver brother controlled the pace of the match for his ninth top-20 victory.

"[Mitch Finesilver] is finally believing in what he's capable of," Lanham said. "It has been a little bit since he's believed he's capable of being a national champion, and he's never voiced it until now. It's good to see his belief and he's going out and dominating guys that he's supposed to."

Although the Wolfpack's ranked depth at in the middle-weight classes quickly negated the points Mitch Finesilver put on the board for the Blue Devils, No. 17 Matt Finesilver followed in his brother's footsteps with a top-20 victory in the 174 against No. 20 Daniel Bullard. Although Bullard rocketed ahead, Finesilver stayed close behind to take force a 6-6 tie heading into the third period. Although the Wolfpack redshirt junior edged ahead with an escape, Finesilver responded with a takedown in the closing moments of the bout to secure the 8-7 win.

Russell was the last of the Blue Devils to score against the Wolfpack, but the Duke sophomore ended the Blue Devils' scoring with a bang. Russell came out swinging in the 184 against Alex Faison, dominating every second of the bout for a 19-3 technical fall.

"[Kaden Russell] stuck around this summer and trained," Lanham said. "We're a non-scholarship team so guys have to pay their own summer. He decided to do that and stay and train and it paid off well. He's won more matches up to this point than he has won all year so it's a good turnaround for him."

Unfortunately for Duke, the Blue Devils' lack of depth continued to haunt them against the Monarchs. Old Dominion jumped out to an instant 12-0 lead thanks to Duke forfeits in the 125 and 133. The Monarchs then furthered that lead with a victory in the 141.

Yet again, Mitch Finesilver was the first to put the Blue Devils on the board, earning a comfortable 8-2 decision against Kevin Budock. Zach Finesilver and Matt Finesilver also joined their brother in the win column, each earning major decisions and clawing Duke back at 20-11. Russell had yet another strong strong showing with a decision in the 184 and redshirt senior Alec Schenck also earned a win in the 197 to put the Blue Devils within striking distance of the monarchs 20-17.

However, Fisher was unable to secure the heavyweight decider, falling 9-0 to Ali Wahab and sending Duke home with another loss.

The Blue Devils will look to break their skid Friday at home against Virginia Tech.

"We're just getting guys where they need to be," Lanham said. "The mentality of the matches right now is to hone your skills down for two tournaments, and that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to get guys better each match little by little and by the time the Nationals come around, we can have a complete product out there."


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