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Finesilver twins pace Duke wrestling at Battle at The Citadel

Josh Finesilver and his twin brother, Matt, set the standard for the team with their individual wins this past weekend.
Josh Finesilver and his twin brother, Matt, set the standard for the team with their individual wins this past weekend.

The Blue Devils opened their season Saturday in Charleston, S.C., where they competed in the all-day Battle at The Citadel.

Duke placed third out of six teams at the match and finished the day with 146 points, trailing behind Air Force (221) and No. 5 NC State (256.5). Though the Blue Devils did not finish the competition with the title, the team garnered some wins in almost every weight class—already setting a wildly different tone for what fans should expect this season. 

"The guys that performed the best stayed around the summer and had a good summer of training," head coach Glen Lanham said.

Among that squad were twin redshirt seniors Josh and Matt Finesilver, who both secured first-place titles in their weight classes—the only Blue Devils to do so. No. 12 Josh Finesilver defeated his opponents in four straight bouts in which he beat his first two in falls within two minutes of play and his second two with 7-0 and 11-8 decisions. No. 8 Matt Finesilver finished similarly, recording three shutouts—with his most significant margin being 18-0.

"If you just follow what they're doing, I think you're capable of really good things," Lanham said. "When you have those two guys in the lineup and just pushing each other in different weight classes—it's good to have."

Both Finesilver brothers have served as team leaders since they joined the team in 2017. The two managed to become NCAA qualifiers, and last year, Josh was only a match away from the All-American title. However, Matt has been absent the past two seasons, taking an Olympic redshirt year two seasons ago then facing an ACL injury last season. Matt's return this season has been exceptional considering the adversity he went through to be competing again this year—and he's doing it at an even higher level than before. With both brothers leading the pack again, Lanham expects the Blue Devils to bring home more wins while also working together to ensure they are constantly putting in the work.

The Finesilver brothers' leadership has been evident thus far, with more Blue Devils besides the duo managing to place high, such as sophomore Logan Agin, junior Bryson Neace and redshirt senior Kaden Russell. 

Agin, competing in the 125-pound bracket, defeated The Citadel's Jacob Simmons by fall within nearly a minute. He lost in a 6-1 decision in the second round, then countered his loss by annihilating Belmont Abbey's Dylan Montgomery to take third place in his weight class with a 19-4 technical fall. Neace and Russell both put on a show, as well—each took home fourth in the 165 and 197-pound brackets. Given the slim pickings in his weight bracket, Neace only needed to record one win in his three matches, which he clinched in a quarterfinal contest. At the same time, Russell registered two, including a quarterfinal 15-0 shutout in which he defeated Presbyterian's Aidan Jean by technical fall.

"I thought our shape looked really good for this time of the season," Lanham said. "I was pretty pleased with what they did [Saturday]."

Though the Blue Devils managed to demonstrate that the work they put in over the summer and throughout the past several months will be paying off, that won't be good enough for Lanham. Referring to Saturday alone, he believes that there are always ways that the wrestlers on his roster could've done better, with many being a "little hesitant on [their] feet" and letting "guys out a little too easy."

Beyond his critiques, Lanham knows and understands that the season has only just begun. With his roster performing at the level it did, fans shouldn't expect the same numbers on the schedule they faltered to last season. Yet, Duke's season only gets more difficult from here, so the Blue Devils will need to consistently put in the extra work in the gym and on the mats. In their effort of proving that, they will next compete in Boone, N.C., Saturday, taking on another toilsome group of schools at the Mountaineer Invitational.

"We're just going to have to step up our game up a little bit," Lanham said. "I think if we keep pulling the trigger, and you know, don't be so hesitant, we can we can have some good performances, something to keep building on."


Ana Young

Ana Young is a Trinity first-year and a staff reporter for the news and sports departments.

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