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Courtesy: Duke Photography
Hough Earns NCAA Championships Berth
Friday 03/03/2012  -  Duke Sports Information
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C.-Duke University freshman Tanner Hough earned a berth in the NCAA Championships today with a strong performance at the 2012 Atlantic Coast Conference Wrestling Championships hosted by North Carolina. Redshirt junior Diego Bencomo took third overall to lead all Blue Devils. Duke finished sixth overall in the tournament with 17.5 points.

Hough, who finished fourth in his 141-pound division, becomes the 33rd Blue Devil to earn a spot in the NCAA postseason and the first 141-pounder since Adam Benitez in 2004. The ACC was awarded four spots at 141 pounds and his top-four finish assured him a place in the championships. He is the first true freshman under head coach Clar Anderson to earn a berth and just the second in Duke wrestling history.

Hough started the day with a thrilling 4-2 sudden victory overtime decision over fourth-seeded Evan Henderson of North Carolina. The win was Hough's 22nd of the year and launched him into the semifinal round against the top-seed Nick Nelson of Virginia.

With four bids available for 141 pounds, Hough needed one more victory to secure that spot. After losing a 10-4 decision to Nelson, the Duke rookie rebounded in the consolation semifinals with a 7-2 triumph over Maryland's Frank Goodwin.

Gambucci took the same path as Hough at 133 pounds. He opened his first ACC postseason event by pinning North Carolina's Brock Livorio in 4:05 to move into the semifinals. Up against top-seed and sixth-ranked Devin Carter for the fourth time this season, Gambucci battled hard in a 15-10 setback.

The 133-pound bracket received three bids from the NCAA, meaning Gambucci needed two more wins to advance to the NCAA Championships. The Mansfield, Ohio native rolled through the consolation semifinal with a 10-0 major decision over Ben Elliott of NC State.

In a final opportunity for that last NCAA automatic bid, Gambucci took on Matt Nelson of Virginia in the consolation title match. The pair traded points, but Nelson pulled out the 11-8 decision to take third and give Gambucci fourth place. The Blue Devil redshirt freshman will await a chance for an at-large bid. 

Bencomo joined Hough and Gambucci as a winner in the opening round. Bencomo cruised through the first bout in a 10-0 major decision against Matthew Snook of Maryland. Up against No. 2 seed Thomas Ferguson in the semifinals, Bencomo suffered just his fifth loss of the season in a 4-0 decision. The Phoenix native bounced back with a vengeance and registered his first fall of the year in just 55 seconds versus Angelo Malvestuto from Virginia Tech.

In the consolation final, Bencomo picked up his third win of the tournament, outlasting NC State's Robert O'Neill with an 8-4 decision to take third overall. The ACC was awarded two bids at 184 pounds, leaving Bencomo awaiting an at-large berth to the NCAA Championships.

The NCAA Championships being March 15 in St. Louis, Mo.


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