Duke is now 1-2-1 overall in dual matches. The tie is the first since an 18-18 match against The Citadel in 2000. It is only the 10th tie in the history of the program.
Starting the match trailing 12-6 after the two teams combined for three forfeits, Duke captured consecutive wins to even the score at 12 heading into the 157-pound bout. The Bulldogs earned back-to-back victories in the next two weight divisions before the Blue Devils picked up two more wins for a 22-19 lead with one match remaining at 197 pounds.
In the deciding match of the evening, Duke rookie Brian Self turned in valiant effort as he fought off near falls from the Bulldogs' Travis Porter. The freshman, however, could not rally in the end as Porter garnered the crucial three points in a 5-2 decision for the 22-22 tie.
The first match to be wrestled was at 141 pounds between Duke senior Mike Bell and Richie Spicel of Gardner-Webb. Bell, looking for his second straight win, outlasted Spicel in a thrilling 3-2 decision to start the back-and-forth scoring of the meet.
A.J. Guardado followed Bell up with a win of his own at 149 pounds. Much like Bell, Guardado turned in a strong performance in a narrow 7-5 decision. The win evened the score at 12 points apiece with five matches remaining.
The Bulldogs notched seven points over the next two matches with a major decision and a decision at 157 and 165 pounds, respectively. The 165-pound match between Duke redshirt sophomore Willy Mello and Justin Guthrie. An even match through the first six minutes, Guthrie turned the match around in a hurry as he registered four points in the final 20 seconds to break the 7-7 tie and earn the 11-7 decision.
Duke got back on track with No. 32 Bret Klopp registering his 14th fall of the season over Erin O'Dell in 2:11. After nearly suffering a near fall, Klopp responded quickly and turned and pinned O'Dell to pull Duke back within one at 19-18. Klopp improves to 22-7 overall on the year, while he is 14-1 in matches decided by pins.
Redshirt sophomore Diego Bencomo put Duke back into the lead by three, 22-19, at 184 pounds with a convincing 10-2 major decision and set up the thrilling finish at 197 pounds. Bencomo is now 17-11 overall and 2-2 in dual bouts.
Duke returns to action on Jan. 27 at ACC rival N.C. State at 7 p.m., in Reynolds Coliseum.
Gardner-Webb 22, Duke 22
285 - Andrew Fulk (DU) wins by forfeit. (DU 6-0) *
125 - Brett Kostern (GWU) wins by forfeit. (Tied 6-6)
133 - Alex Hamm (GWU) wins by forfeit. (GWU 12-6)
141 - Mike Bell (DU) dec. Richie Spicel (GWU) - 3-2 (GWU 12-9)
149 - A.J. Guardado (DU) dec. Ryan Medved (GWU) - 7-5 (Tied 12-12)
157 - Alex Medved (GWU) maj dec. Ryan Harding (DU) - 17-5 (GWU 16-12)
165 - Justin Guthrie (GWU) dec. Willy Mello (DU) - 11-7 (GWU 19-12)
174 - #32 Bret Klopp (DU) pin fall Erin O'Dell (GWU) - 2:11 (GWU 19-18)
184 - Diego Bencomo (DU) maj dec. Blake Sayler (GWU) - 10-2 (DU 22-19)
197 - Travis Porter (GWU) dec. Brian Self (DU) - 5-2 (Tied 22-22)