BLACKSBURG, Va. –Redshirt senior Mitch Finesilver captured the ACC title at 149 pounds to highlight a strong showing from the Blue Devils at the 2019 ACC Wrestling Championships in Cassell Coliseum Saturday. Five Blue Devils punched their tickets to the NCAA Championships and Duke finished fifth with 39 points.
Josh Finesilver (141), Mitch Finesilver (149), Benjamin Anderson (157), Zach Finesilver (165) and Matt Finesilver (174) head to Pittsburgh for the NCAA Championships March 21-23. The five NCAA bids are tied for the most in program history, matching the total from 2015 and 2018. Matt Finesilver finished as runner-up to earn his first All-ACC award, while Josh and Zach Finesilver both took third. Anderson was fourth.
“I felt like our guys wrestled well. They wrestled well at the right time,” said head coach Glen Lanham. “It was good. We are going to go back and clean up some things, but it’s always good to get five guys to nationals and get that experience for those guys.”
“We faced some of these guys earlier in the year and really made some big turnarounds,” Lanham said. “It was good for the team to go out and believe in their training. We had a hard two weeks of training and that showed tonight. We really got after.”
The top seed in the 149-pound bracket, Mitch Finesilver was outstanding all day as he cruised past No. 4 seed Ryan Blees of Virginia Tech 4-0 in the semifinals. In a fourth meeting with No. 2 seed Austin O’Connor, Mitch scored first and never looked back en route to the 4-1 victory. In his two matches on the day, Mitch did not allow an opponent an offensive point.
“I thought Mitch really separated himself tonight,” Lanham said. “It was in his hands and he took it. I wanted him to get this so bad. I know what it means to him to get the title and how much work he puts in and what he’s done throughout the year and the summers and all the sacrifices, it’s great to see him get over the hump after being in the finals four times.”
Matt Finesilver, seeded second, defeated No. 3 seed Daniel Bullard in a 4-1 decision to secure his second consecutive NCAA bid as well as a berth in the ACC title bout. Pitted against seventh-ranked David McFadden, Matt was within three in the third period. The Hokie junior closed out the match to take the 7-3 decision and title.
One of the biggest highlights of the day came as Anderson turned in arguably the most memorable match of his career with a pin against Virginia’s Jake Keating in the consolation semifinals to secure one of the four automatic bids at 157 pounds. Seeded sixth, Anderson lost to B.C. LaPrade of Virginia Tech to start the day, but returned in the afternoon with Pittsburgh in his sights.
Trailing 10-5 in the first period and in a dangerous position himself, Anderson fought off a pin from Keating and put the Cavalier sophomore in a dangerous position and finished the move to get a pin with 1:01 remaining in the opening stanza. The victory secured his spot in the NCAA Championship field.
Josh Finesilver nearly had a thrilling run to the title bout as he ran out of time in his comeback effort in the semifinals. He started his day with a 6-3 decision over LJ Bentley of Pitt to advance to the semifinals against No. 1 seed Jamel Morris of NC State. Trailing 6-3 after the first and 10-5 after the second, Josh dominated the action in the third with a pair of takedowns, but eventually simply ran out of time to overcome the early deficit.
In the third-place match, Josh never left it in doubt as he controlled the match in the second and third periods en route to the 9-5 decision over A.C. Headlee and a third-place spot on the podium.
Zach was a big point scorer for the Blue Devils today, picking up three major decision victories to finish third. He was completely dominant in the opening round in a 13-2 victory before running into eighth-ranked Mekhi Lewis in the semifinals.
The redshirt senior, with a bid to the NCAA Championships on the line, left no doubt he would be in Pittsburgh, beating NC State’s Tommy O’Brien 11-3 to move into the consolation finals. He capped his day with a 12-0 shutout victory to take third.
The NCAA will announce the additional at-large bids Tuesday with the official brackets coming out later this coming week. The NCAA Championships will be held in Pittsburgh March 21-23. Every session will be televised on the ESPN family of networks.