LAS VEGAS –For the second consecutive season the Duke wrestling team landed on the podium at the prestigious Cliff Keen Invitational as redshirt senior Mitch Finesilver took fifth at 149 pounds. He is the second Blue Devil in program history to finish in the top eight at the early-season tournament featuring many of the nation’s top wrestlers.
Duke finished the tournament with 22.5 points for 28th place of 43 teams. Ohio State took home the team title, while Pittsburgh was the top ACC finisher.
Day two got off to a tough start for the Blue Devils as both Matt and Mitch Finesilver suffered setbacks in their opening matches. Matt, looking to keep his tournament going, was up against 18th-ranked Kimball Bastian of Utah Valley, while Mitch was set to wrestle the nation’s No. 2 149-pounder in Anthony Ashnault in the semifinals.
The match between the country’s No. 18 Bastian and No. 19 Finesilver was a tight affair. Bastian scored a takedown in the final seconds of the first period. Matt escaped seconds later to cut the deficit in half heading into the second period. A technical violation and an escape from Matt to start the second game the sophomore Blue Devil the 3-2 lead after five minutes of action. The third period was a tough one as Bastian was able to reverse Matt and then get him on his back for the pin.
Mitch, facing arguably his toughest opponent of the season, struggled at times to get to his offense as Ashnault earned the 12-4 victory. Ashnault, leading 5-1 after two periods, defended Mitch’s tireless shots in the final period to advance to the title match.
In a second meeting against North Carolina’s Austin O’Connor, the tide came in the Tar Heel’s favor as he eked out a 3-1 decision over Mitch to earn a spot in the third-place match.
Unfazed by consecutive losses, Mitch came back in the fifth-place match against 19th-ranked Josh Heil and cruised to victory. He built a 5-1 lead after the first period and held off a third-period push from Heil to post his 12th win of the season.
The Blue Devils will put their dual lineup to the test Dec. 6 at Gardner-Webb. The match is set for 7 p.m., on ESPN+.