LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J.—After battling back from a 12-0 deficit to tie the match 12-12, the Duke University wrestling team’ s comeback came up just short in a 22-16 setback at Rider Saturday afternoon. Duke freshman Connor Bass highlighted the dual with a pin against No. 20 Curt Delia.
Duke (5-9), forfeiting at 125, got off to a slow start as Rider (11-5) jumped out to a 12-0 lead with decisions at both 133 and 141 pounds. The Blue Devils, buoyed by Bass’s pin at 149, trailed just 19-16 heading into the heavyweight bout.
Facing his second ranked wrestler of the season, Bass scored crucial points for the Blue Devils with a second-period pin against Delia. Rider’s 149-pounder grabbed the early 4-1 lead, but Duke’s true freshman responded with fury to take a 7-4 lead into the second period.
A takedown by Delia in the second pulled him within one, 7-6, but Bass took a shot and put the Bronc on his back to get the pin with 39 seconds left in the session and give Duke six points.
With the lead cut in half, redshirt junior Immanuel Kerr-Brown continued his winning ways at 157 with a 9-2 decision over Wayne Stinson. Kerr-Brown, Duke’s wins leader, trailed 2-0 early, but scored nine unanswered to just miss his third consecutive major decision. The Rome, Ga., native is 18-7 overall and has won five straight bouts for the Blue Devils.
Duke continued to roll at 165 as Marcus Cain got in the win column with a 3-0 decision over Ramon Santiago. After a scoreless first period, Cain scored in the second for a 2-0 lead with just two minutes remaining. Santiago, late in the third period, nearly got a reversal, but a good defensive effort from Cain tied the dual 12-12 with four bouts remaining.
Having lost three straight bouts, Rider got back on track with a narrow 7-4 decision over Duke’s Trey Adamson 7-4 for the 15-12 advantage. Adamson escaped to make it 2-2, but Conor Brennan scored five of the matches final six points to put Rider back in front 15-12.
Rider picked up four crucial points with a 13-5 major decision at 184 for the 19-12 lead to set up an exciting finish.
Redshirt sophomore Conner Hartmann pulled Duke within three, 19-16, with a commanding 17-4 major decision at 197 pounds. Hartmann, 14-7 overall, dominated Jeff McElwee and just missed out on posting the technical fall.
Needing a win to at least tie the dual, Duke senior Brian Self stepped onto the mat against Greg Velasco. After a scoreless first period, Self escaped to start the second and took that 1-0 lead into the final stanza.
Velasco, on bottom in the third, escaped to tie the bout and then quickly scored a takedown for the 3-1 lead. A late escape by Self made it 3-2, but the Oklahoma City native couldn’t get the takedown as Rider came away with the 22-16 victory.
Duke is back in action at 7 p.m., this evening at Drexel. The match will be streamed live and free of charge.