The Blue Devils took a quick trip to College Park, Md., and Washington for four duals Dec. 4-5.
Duke’s second and third sets of competitions for its duals season ended in a win and three losses, bringing its record to 3-4 thus far. The Blue Devils began the weekend with a 25-20 win against Drexel, then registered a 23-17 loss against Maryland later that Saturday. The next day the team did not record a victory, with Duke falling to Hofstra and American 25-19 and 22-18, respectively. Though the team’s performance didn’t pan out as it would have liked, minor correctable issues and an injury were the main problems on the mats.
“We’re not a deep team, so we can’t afford to give up a forfeit, and we did that in the three matches when Brandon LaRue went down,” head coach Glen Lanham said. “That hurt us if you look at our losses. I mean, one was by six, another was by [six] and the [last] one was by [four]. If we don’t have those forfeits, we could have went 4-0.”
Though the Blue Devils were victorious in their first match against Drexel, the team lost LaRue, its starter in the 165-pound weight bracket to an injury at the Maryland Duals. The forfeits undoubtedly hurt how the group held up throughout the weekend. Yet, the team still had some successful showdowns recorded—particularly Matt and Josh Finesilver’s performances, as the redshirt seniors each went undefeated.
The duo’s nearly flawless execution on the mats was one of the most significant factors in how Duke kept the matches so close. Only against Drexel’s Mickey O’Malley did Matt win by any way other than a shutout, defeating him in a 6-2 decision. Josh was close to recording shutouts, winning major decisions in both duals.
“I think they’re going in a good direction. Matt has faced top-15 competition, and he’s just seemed to really wrestle well. He’s not wrestling up to his capability, but he’s wrestling really well,” Lanham said. “I think we can have multiple All-Americans this year and do something that hasn’t been done in the history of Duke wrestling. So we’re excited about that, and we’re just continuing to push forward on it.”
Six different wrestlers were instrumental in Duke securing a win against Drexel. However, junior Wade Unger and sophomore Logan Agin each went 3-1 throughout the weekend.
Unger has made a name for himself this season, going 2-1 at the Boilermaker Duals and 2-2 at both the Mountaineer Invitational and the Battle at the Citadel. And Agin’s show was a significant contrast to how he placed two weekends ago, with the 125-pound weight class starter going 0-3 record in the Boilermaker Duals. Despite Unger losing to Hofstra’s Joe McGinty 11-9 in sudden victory and Agin facing defeat from American’s Andrew Fallon in a 3-2 decision, the close scores are evidence of how the Blue Devils’ record on paper does not tell the full story of this team.
Duke gets a break before it takes on more competition, with its next duals session scheduled for Dec. 19 when it will battle The Citadel and Bloomsburg at its home base in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Fortunately for the Blue Devils, Stanford-transfer Gabe Dinette will become eligible for competition just in time for the team’s next match—helping fill the hole LaRue’s upper-body injury leaves behind as the 165-pound weight bracket starter.
“He’s been in the room working out with us this whole fall, but he hadn’t been eligible for competition. So we’re excited now to get him in competition and see what he does with these next two duals that we have coming up,” Lanham said. “I think with his leadership—he was an upperclassman at Stanford and has been in a division one room—he knows what it takes to get out there and perform. I think that’s going to be a shot in the arm for us, for sure, at [the] 165 [weight bracket].”
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
Ana Young is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle’s 118th volume.