Duke opened the new year by finishing in the top-10 at the prestigious Southern Scuffle for a second year in a row. Following a fifth-place run last year, the Blue Devils scored 70 team points to earn seventh-place.
Redshirt senior Mitch Finesilver was runner-up at 149 pounds and three other Blue Devils—Matt Finesilver at 174, Zach Finesilver at 165 and Ben Anderson at 157—finished on the podium in Chattanooga, Tenn. The four place-winners tied last year’s total for the most in program history.
Duke posted a strong first day of competition, with six wrestlers advancing to day two. Brothers Mitch and Matt—who have starred for the Blue Devils all season—reached the semifinals, while Josh Finesilver, Zach Finesilver, Kaden Russell and Anderson stayed alive on the back end of the bracket.
Mitch, the top seed at 149, rolled through his first three matches to make the semifinals. The three-time NCAA qualifier opened his day with a 20-8 major decision over Collin Glorioso of Lock Haven, scoring eight takedowns in the process. He kept up his blistering pace in the round of 16 against Pittsburgh’s Luke Kemerer, going up 13-1 before securing a fall in the third period. The No. 6 149-pounder closed out his day with a dominant 5-0 win over Requir Van der Merwe of Stanford.
Matt’s campaign was similarly successful, as he registered consecutive major decisions over Stanford’s Rico Stormer and Missouri’s Jeremiah Kent before ousting Vincent Deprez of Binghamton in the quarterfinals. The fifth-seeded Blue Devil outscored his opponents 35-7 on his way to the semifinals.
Zach and Anderson, who upset No. 6 seed Kolby Ho of George Mason in his first match, also made the quarterfinals before dropping into the consolation bracket. Josh Finesilver and Russell each lost in the second round before winning a pair of matches on the back end to advance to day two.
The second day of competition started as a mixed bag for the Blue Devils, with Russell and Josh being eliminated after losing their first matches. But Ben Anderson, wrestling in just his second-ever competition as a Blue Devil, picked up a major decision over Ohio’s Nick Vestal to lock up his place on the podium. Zach also shined on the back end, as he beat George Mason’s Colston DiBlasi 6-1 before recording a comeback win over Penn State’s Mason Manville. Zach trailed 6-3 with less than 90 seconds remaining, but relied on his gas tank to outscore Manville 5-1 for the rest of the match and put himself in the consolation semifinals.
Mitch turned in a gritty performance in the semifinals, relying on a second-period ride out to edge No. 10 Brady Berge of Penn State. The two wrestlers went toe-to-toe for seven minutes, with Berge scoring the match’s only takedown in third period and Mitch earning two escapes. The Blue Devils' top game proved to be the difference maker, as his riding point was the sole differential in a 3-2 victory. Matt’s semifinals match—also against a Nittany Lion—was less favorable, as No. 1 Mark Hall shut out the Duke sophomore, 6-0.
In the finals, Mitch wrestled another tight match against No. 12 Kaden Gfeller of Oklahoma State. This time, however, the Colorado native came out on the losing end. Mitch was just two seconds away from locking up a riding time point and knotting the score in the third period, but Gfeller escaped in the nick of time and fended off the Blue Devil’s attacks in the match’s waning seconds.
Mitch’s loss was heartbreaking, but his brothers Zach and Matt both placed fifth and ended their tournaments with their hands raised. Zach won by medical forfeit over Oklahoma State’s Chandler Rogers and Matt bounced back from a consi-semis loss with a 10-2 major decision over Marcus Coleman of Iowa State. Anderson also ended his day on the podium, finishing in eighth-place.
The Blue Devils will face Penn on Sunday, Jan. 6 at 2 p.m. in Card Gymnasium.
Get Overtime, all Duke athletics
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.