Duke wrestling overwhelmed in season opener, shut out by Virginia

Connor Barket stares down his opponent during Duke's ACC opener against Virginia.
Connor Barket stares down his opponent during Duke's ACC opener against Virginia.

Duke endured an absolutely brutal night Friday against Virginia inside Cameron Indoor Stadium. 

In the midst of Duke's Centennial celebration, the Blue Devils were pummeled in their ACC opener Friday evening, being shut out at home by a score of 45-0. Not only did the team fail to win a single duel, but it also only managed to score a handful of takedowns.

Head coach Glen Lanham aptly summarized what Duke was missing in a post-match interview.

 “I just think it’s a lack of toughness,” he said. “We’re not winning in tough positions. You’re on the verge of winning matches and it gets tough for you and you just don’t wrestle. Until we figure that out, it’s gonna be a long road for us. I’m puzzled right now.”

Coming off two rough losses at Gardner-Webb and against Chattanooga, Lanham had hoped Duke (4-9, 0-1 in the ACC) would bounce back emphatically, marking a turning point for them. However, throughout most of Friday’s duels, Blue Devil wrestlers were taken to the ground almost immediately and were rarely able to recover. This trend was particularly apparent among Duke’s more inexperienced wrestlers. Freshmen Kwasi Bonsu (197 pounds), Raymond Adams (133 pounds), Sean O’Donnell (149 pounds) and David Hussey (174 pounds) were completely outmatched by their more veteran opponents. However, Lanham made it clear that he no longer sees his team’s youth as an excuse for its continued losses. 

“We have to have guys step up,” Lanham said. “We can’t keep using [excuses like] ‘hey, this guy’s a freshman.’ We’re a long way into the season where you have a lot of experience under your belt, so I just think sometimes there’s got to be some fight.”

Duke’s upperclassmen did not fare much better than their younger counterparts. Senior Logan Agin (125 pounds) continued a rough stretch of form by losing by technical fall to the Cavaliers’ Kyle Montaperto in just the first period. Sophomore Gaetano Console (165 pounds) had an uncharacteristically poor performance, falling to Nick Hamilton by a score of 14-5. Only sophomore captain Connor Barket (285 pounds) came close to winning on the night. The reigning ACC Wrestler of the Week barely lost a titanic clash against No. 33 Ryan Catka. At times, it seemed like Barket would pull off the upset, as the West Lafayette, Ind., native gained an early advantage. However, the match was briefly stopped for a video review, allowing Catka to seize back momentum and dashing Barket’s hopes of a stunning ACC victory. 

When asked if there were any positives to take away from an otherwise abysmal night for the Blue Devils, Lanham’s blunt response exemplified Duke’s poor outing.

“I don’t think there’s anything positive out of being shutout 45 to 0,” he said. “You can’t always say we need more fans, we need more this or that … Who wants to watch that? So it’s hard to find anything positive from that to be honest with you. We just got to get better. We got to get tougher.” 

Next Friday the Blue Devils will take on Pittsburgh at Cameron Indoor, where they will hope to put the Virginia match behind them.


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