DURHAM, N.C.—The Duke wrestling season is just two weeks away and there is a lot to cover leading into what has the potential to be a very memorable season for the Blue Devils. Duke kicks off the 2017-18 campaign Sunday, Nov. 5 at the Southeast Open in Roanoke, Va.
Leading up to the season we will take a look at some of the storylines as well as a weight-by-weight look at the potential dual lineup in 2018.
Duke Finds Home Again in Cameron Indoor Stadium
The Blue Devils will return to historic Cameron Indoor Stadium for their home duals in 2017-18. All but one of the home events will be held in the revered venue. The Gardner-Webb match Feb. 1 will still be wrestled in Card Gymnasium due to a women’s basketball conflict. Wrestling in Cameron Indoor Stadium will allow for the Blue Devils to use the video board, the LED ribbon panels as they aim to draw even bigger crowds to the events. The first home match will be Friday, Jan. 19 against preseason No. 11 NC State.
InterMat Preseason Rankings
Jacob Kasper will start his final campaign ranked sixth in the preseason InterMat rankings. Wrestling at heavyweight for the second season, Kasper has addressed a couple areas that needed to be tweaked according to Lanham and is stronger than ever. He is the top-ranked ACC wrestler and sits behind two-time reigning NCAA Champion Kyle Snyder, Adam Coon of Michigan, Arizona State’s Tanner Hall, Nick Nevills of Penn State and Amarveer Dhesi from Oregon State. Kasper could see action against some of those guys in either the Cliff Keen Invitational or the Southern Scuffle.
Kasper and Mitch Lead Duke in Preseason ACC Rankings
Kasper and redshirt junior Mitch Finesilver open the 2017-18 as favorites to win ACC titles at their respective weights. Both are tabbed first in the FloWrestling ACC rankings at heavyweight and 157 pounds, respectively. Nationally, Kasper comes in at No. 6, while Mitch is 11th in his new weight class.
WIN’s TPI point totals are broken down by the following individual rankings: 1st – 20 (16 AA points + 4 advancement points); 2nd – 16 (12+4); 3rd – 13.5 (10+3.5); 4th – 12.5 (9+3.5); 5th – 10 (7+3); 6th – 9 (6+3); 7th – 6.5 (4+2.5); 8th – 5.5 (3+2.5). Additional points for other rankings include: 9th/12th – 2; 13th/16th – 1.5; 17th-20th – 1. TPI points will be lower than the final actual NCAA tournament points because it does not include bonus points.
FloWrestling ACC Rankings by Weight
125 – Thayer Atkins (4th)
133 – Josh Finsilver (5th)
141 – Brandon Leynaud (5th)
149 – Ethan Krause
157 – Mitch Finesilver (1st)
165 – Zach Finesilver
174 – Matt Finesilver (6th)
184 – Kaden Russell
197 – Alec Schenk (4th at 184)
285 – Jacob Kasper (1st)
Team – 5th of 6
FloWrestling Preseason National Rankings
157 – Mitch Finesilver (11th)
285 – Jacob Kasper (6th)
Atkins Looking to Have Big Senior Season
125 – Senior Thayer Atkins will be the unquestioned leader at this weight. Pound-for-pound the strongest wrestler on the team, Atkins will aim to put the exclamation point on his breakout junior season. Duke’s four-year starter at 125, he has all the tools to earn a spot in the NCAA Championships field after just missing last season.
“Thayer had a breakout year last year and at the end just missed making nationals,” Lanham said. “I think for Thayer it is a confidence piece because we know he has the tools to be successful. He’s strong enough. He’s pound-for-pound the strongest guy on the team so he just needs to get in there and get some good wins and believe he can do it.”
Josh Finesilver Penciled in at 133
Rookie Josh Finesilver is the anticipated starter for Duke at 133 pounds. With two older brothers having already found success on the mat at Duke, Josh is a step ahead in knowing what lies ahead. He put in quality work in the wrestling and weight room over the summer and is poised to take the starting role as a freshman. Josh Copeland also will battle for the starting role after redshirting last season at 125 pounds.
Leynaud to Battle at 141
After wrestling early in his career at 133 pounds, Brandon Leynaud has certified at 141 pounds. He wrestled at both 141 and 149 last season, going 5-7 overall and taking second at the Newberry Open at 149. Lanham described Leynaud as a “tweener” between 141 and 149 pounds and envisions the redshirt sophomore being able to find success at 141.
Duke to be Young at 149
With Leynaud certifying at 141, the Blue Devils will look to freshman Ethan Krause at 149 pounds. Strong and solid, Lanham believes Krause can be an asset at 149, but he will need to focus and wrestle where his strengths are. Krause, a Georgetown Prep product, won consecutive Maryland Independent School titles and is known for his work ethic in the wrestling room.
Stay tuned for the final preview for the 2017-18 season next Sunday where GoDuke.com has more storylines and the remainder of the starting lineup.