PITTSBURGH –Duke redshirt senior Mitch Finesilver will finish his Blue Devil career on the podium at the NCAA Wrestling Championships as he joined an elite group of wrestlers as an All-American Friday night at PPG Paints Arena. The Blue Devils sit in 24th place heading into the final day of competition.
“It’s an unbelievable [feeling] honestly,” Mitch Finesilver said. “I worked my whole career and whole life for this. Lots and lots of hard work. Lots of late nights. Lots of workouts. A lot of blood, tears and sweat. To reach at least some degree my goal is pretty awesome and unbelievable.”
Session IV Recap
After suffering a heartbreaking overtime loss in the quarterfinal, Mitch rebounded with a pair of strong showings to advance to the consolation semifinals Saturday. He will wrestle Princeton’s Matthew Kolodzik for a chance to compete for third place overall.
In his opening match in Session IV, Mitch faced Jared Prince in a rematch from earlier in the season. The Greenwood Village, Colo., native broke open a 2-2 tie in the second period with an escape and a takedown for the 6-2 advantage after five minutes of wrestling.
Prince got a point back with an escape, but a takedown and a good ride from Mitch sealed the 9-4 decision and All-America nod for the Blue Devil.
With the All-America award in hand, Mitch returned to the mat a second time on the night focused on picking up another victory. Mitch, up against Pat Lugo of Iowa, fell behind 3-0 after a penalty point in the first and a reversal from Lugo in the second. Unfazed, the veteran Blue Devil picked up an escape and a takedown quickly to even the score heading into the third.
One more point from an escape gave Mitch his first lead of the match with 90 seconds remaining. The pair continued to scramble and Lugo nearly caught Mitch, but the Duke captain continued to wrestle and eventually came away with the takedown to solidify a 6-3 decision and berth in the consolation semifinals.
“I was just trying to keep wrestling [during the last scramble],” Mitch said. “I wasn’t thinking. It was more reacting than anything. Sometimes you just have to let your body take over and do that.”
Session III Recap
Mitch squared off against redshirt freshman O’Connor for the fifth time this season with a bid to the NCAA semifinals on the line. With all four previous bouts being decided by three or fewer points, the quarterfinal match was no different as it was decided in overtime.
After a scoreless first period, O’Connor got on the board with an escape to start the second. Mitch took shots, but was unable to finish and headed to the third trailing 1-0. The redshirt senior quickly escaped to even the score 1-1, but yet again couldn’t score on sixth-seeded O’Connor as the two headed to overtime.
In the sudden victory period, the Tar Heel 149-pounder finish an early shot to come away with the 3-1 decision and berth in the semifinals.
At 174 pounds, Matt Finesilver continued his championship against Purdue’s Dylan Lydy. The No. 11 seed in the tournament, Lydy grabbed an early takedown, before Matt quickly escaped and then tied it 2-2 with another escape in the second period.
Lydy matched that to start the third, but also was issued a stall warning during the 3-2 advantage. Matt continued to push the pace, but couldn’t get past Lydy’s defense and the Boilermaker registered a late takedown for a 5-2 edge. The Blue Devil sophomore escaped and got another penalty point for stalling, but couldn’t complete the comeback effort as he finished his 2018-19 season with a 26-10 overall record.
Session IV gets underway at 8 p.m., at PPG Paints Arena. Every match can be seen on WatchESPN and the semifinal bouts will be televised live by ESPN. One win for Mitch guarantees him a spot on the podium.
MITCH FINESILVER - 149
1st Round #30 Parker Kropman (Drexel) W, TF, 16-1
2nd Round #19 Cole Martin (Wisconsin) W, MD, 9-1
Quarterfinal #6 Austin O’Connor (North Carolina) L, Dec. 1-3 (SV-1)
Consolation 3rd #18 Jared Prince (Navy) W, Dec., 9-4
Consolation QF #10 Pat Lugo (Iowa) W, Dec., 6-3
MATT FINESILVER - 174
1st Round #20 Marcus Coleman (Iowa State) W, Dec., 8-2
2nd Round #5 Jordan Kutler (Lehigh) L, Dec., 2-6
Consi 2nd Round #11 Dylan Lydy (Purdue) L, Dec., 4-5