Duke wrestling splits matches with The Citadel, Queens as Bonsu secures first career win

The Blue Devils took their matchup with Queens after a tough loss to The Citadel.
The Blue Devils took their matchup with Queens after a tough loss to The Citadel.

As most students rushed home for the holidays, hoping to enjoy a few weeks of rest and relaxation, Duke traveled to Charlotte Tuesday for a big doubleheader against The Citadel and Queens. The matchup yielded mixed results for the Blue Devils. On the one hand, the team scored only three individual victories against the Bulldogs, falling in the opening encounter by a score of 23-9. However, in the afternoon, Duke bounced back emphatically, trouncing the Royals in a dominant 47-0 victory.

“I think for The Citadel match, we kind of started out a little slow, and gave those guys just a little bit more respect than they deserved,” head coach Glen Lanham said after the matches. “So I thought it was a learning experience for our guys [that] we got to start quick against good competition.”

The Blue Devils (4-5) were led by veterans Logan Agin (125 lbs), Gaetano Console (165 lbs), and Connor Barket (285 lbs), each of whom won both of their duels in convincing fashion. Their performances against The Citadel helped keep Duke in contention, while their dominant outings against Queens laid the foundation for a convincing Blue Devil win. 

Baldwin, N.Y., native Kwasi Bonsu (197 lbs) was another standout from Tuesday’s encounters. The true freshmen was very competitive in a narrow defeat against the Bulldogs’ Roy Price, before securing his first collegiate victory against the Royals’ Riley Kuhn. Lanham praised Bonsu’s growth so far this season, especially when it comes to listening to his coaches and implementing their feedback during matches.

“I felt like he's starting to put it together. He's starting to trust and listen more,” Lanham said. “When we do these individual practices, we try to stress some specific techniques that he needs to work on. And sometimes you don't see that in a match but I think in these two matches, he really focused on a lot of what we’re trying to tell him.”

Bonsu’s impressive victory during Duke’s dominant display, paired with the consistent performances of Agin, Console and Barket, exemplify what the Blue Devils are capable of when they’re at their best. When Duke harnesses both the experience of its veterans and the energy of its freshmen, it can compete against teams with much more talent on paper. Despite losing several starters during the offseason, including longtime standout Jonah Niesenbaum, the program seems to have made a significant step up from last year’s disappointing display. 

“At the start of the summer, we had [some] upperclassmen that decided [to] move on to careers. And so that caught us off guard a little bit,” Lanham said. “I knew once that happened that we were going to have peaks and valleys. And that we [were] just going to have to coach these guys through it. I think now you can see some of these guys responding to that and having success. I feel like we’re right where we need to be.”

Next up, after a short break for the holidays, the Blue Devils travel to Chattanooga, Tenn., Jan. 1, hoping to start the new year strong at the Southern Scuffle tournament.


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