After a disastrous opening weekend in which Duke only won two of 30 matches against Rutgers, Cal Poly and Stanford, the Blue Devils bounced back in a major way during their triple-header in Morgantown, W. Va., Sunday. Despite falling to West Virginia 40-6, Duke earned its first two wins of the season through a 19-16 defeat of Cleveland State and 24-17 victory against Kent State.
“Overall it was a good trip for us,” head coach Glen Lanham said after the match. “We got two big wins over two pretty decent teams, two fully funded programs. It was a good win for our guys, and we did have a bounce back from last week. Our guys had a lot of fight out there tonight.”
Sophomore captain Gaetano Console was particularly impressive throughout the day. After struggling last week in California, Console picked up two huge wins this time around, including a win-by-fall against West Virginia star Peyton Hall. Console’s victory marked the first ranked win of the Duke captain’s career, perhaps a sign of things to come for one of the most highly touted Blue Devils on the team.
“It was kind of a breakthrough match for Gaetano,” Lanham said. “We’ve talked about how if he can put a seven-minute match together and just wrestle smart, he can have some huge success. And it wasn’t a fluke. Gaetano snapped the young man down and the guy came up right into a headlock and got the fall. He was really textbook, he didn’t sit back and he wrestled hard.”
Lanham also said that the Barrington Hills, Ill., native could play a huge role later in the season.
“In order to get your name out there you gotta beat somebody with a name and that’s what Gaetano did tonight,” Lanham said. “He put himself on that list of guys that could go to Nationals.”
After last weekend’s defeats, Lanham made clear he expected more from his upperclassmen wrestlers, who evidently responded well Sunday. Veterans Logan Agin, Jarred Papcsy, Jack Wimmer and Conor Becker picked up their first wins of the season Sunday, each playing a huge role in the Blue Devils’ narrow victories. Lanham spoke of how his upperclassmen set a great example for the many young wrestlers on Duke’s roster.
“I thought it meant a lot to the younger guys, to see the upperclassmen go out there and [wrestle] well,” Lanham said. “Anytime you can do that it kinda gives the younger guys a little inspiration when they go out there. They know that they can compete when they see our older guys that have been in the program for a while competing hard.”
That will be particularly important Sunday, as the Blue Devils will compete in the Keystone Classic tournament at Penn, where they will look to build on the momentum they established through the two big wins.
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