Duke won just two out of its 30 matches in its West Coast trip last weekend, falling in duels to No. 15 Rutgers 47-0 and Cal Poly 38-6 Friday, and Stanford 41-0 Saturday. Over the course of 48 hours, the Blue Devils fell victim to 13 technical falls, when a match is stopped due to lopsided score, and four pins.
“We had five guys, either real freshman or true freshman in the lineup,” head coach Glen Lanham said of his team. “But then again, we also have five upperclassmen too, that just got to wrestle better.”
It was particularly tough sledding for the upperclassmen, who seemed almost as inexperienced as the incoming freshman. 149-pound graduate student Jarred Papcsy, 174-pound senior Jack Wimmer and 184-pound senior Conor Becker dropped all three matches, with only Wimmer’s duel against Rutgers’ Shane Cartagena-Walsh and Becker’s tangle with Stanford’s Jack Darrah being somewhat competitive for the Blue Devils (0-3).
“You want to see our upperclassmen act like they’ve been there before,” Lanham said. “We need those guys stepping up. We need them setting good examples of what it takes to be gritty.”
Senior Logan Agin also struggled mightily despite his proven track record. The Lancaster, Ohio native suffered a pin against No. 6 Dean Peterson of Rutgers, a technical fall via Dom Mendez of Cal Poly and an 8-1 loss at the hands of the Cardinal’s Nico Provo.
“You know Logan has got to be a guy that can come out and inspire the lineup to wrestle harder and wrestler tougher,” Lanham said. “It just sets the tone for what we need. He’s got to really decide that he wants to get himself in shape … we need him.”
The best performance of the trip for the Blue Devils came by way of 165-pound freshman Aidan Wallace. The Bergen Catholic product earned an 8-5 overtime victory against Cal Poly’s Michael Goldfeder. Wallace was aggressive in the sudden death period, and secured a takedown to win. His performance impressed the staff, and he will wrestle off against Gaetano Console, who went 0-2 on the weekend, in the coming days for the starting spot.
“We just felt like [Wallace] could give us a better spark in the one match,” Lanham said. “Gaetano was wrestling [with] a little low energy, so we figured we’d shake things up. [Wallace] came out there and he got his first collegiate win. We’ve got to wrestle those guys off soon, because I think 165 pounds could be a good weight for us if we get it situated.”
Sophomore Connor Barket, attempting to fill the massive shoes left by star Jonah Niesenbaum’s departure to the WWE, picked up the other victory on the weekend and his first of the season. The West Lafayette, Ind., native defeated Joshua Harkey of Cal Poly 12-7 in an impressive come-from-behind effort in the third period.
The Blue Devils next travel to Morgantown, W.Va., Sunday for another three duels, this time against Kent State, Cleveland State and West Virginia.
“I want to see our upperclassmen take the lead,” Lanham said. “I need to see our upperclassmen wrestle like upperclassmen, like they have the experience and the knowledge of how to compete and help move these guys along.”
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