DURHAM, N.C.—The Duke wrestling team will ring in the New Year at the 2017 Southern Scuffle presented by Compound Clothing Saturday. The prestigious two-day tournament is hosted by Tennessee Chattanooga with action beginning at 9 a.m., Jan. 1.
How to Attend or Follow the 2017 Southern Scuffle
Tickets can be purchased at GoMocs.com or by calling the UTC Ticket Office at 423-266-MOCS (6627). If you can't make it in person, be sure to follow all of the action through Flo Arena. FloWrestling is streaming every match live and links are available on the wrestling schedule page on GoMocs.com. Those not able to watch live can follow Duke wrestling on Twitter @DukeWRES for live updates.
Duke Back in Action after Long Layoff
The Blue Devils hit the mat for their first competition outside of the wrestling room since Nov. 20 at the Wolfpack Open. Working hard in the wrestling room for the past month, they are refreshed and ready to charge ahead in the busy portion of the season. Duke will wrestle at the Southern Scuffle and in four duals in the first 17 days of the month, including opening ACC action Jan. 11 at NC State.
Duke Trio among the Pre-Seeds
A trio of Blue Devils is among the wrestlers listed as the pre-seeds for the 2017 Southern Scuffle presented by Compound Clothing. Considered one of the best tournaments of the year, the Southern Scuffle features over 60 wrestlers in the ASICS FloRankings and eight of the top 20 teams from FloWrestling’s team poll. Jake Faust tops the Blue Devils at No. 4 at 165 pounds, while Jacob Kasper is fifth at heavyweight and Mitch Finesilver, wrestling unattached, ninth at 157. Faust and Kasper will be looking to place at the tournament for the first time in their careers, while Finesilver hopes to improve on his fifth-place showing a year ago.
157 – No. 9 Mitch Finesilver
165 – No. 4 Jake Faust
HWT – No. 5 Jacob Kasper
Blue Devils Scuffling
Fourteen Blue Devils are slated to compete at the Southern Scuffle this year. Thayer Atkins and Josh Copeland are listed among the 125-pound entries and Cole Baumgartner leads the charge at 133 pounds. Zach Finesilver looks to make moves at 141 pounds, while Xaviel Ramos and Michael Monica line up at 149. At 157 pounds, Mitch, as mentioned above is the No. 9 seed, while Joey Abbate hopes to add more wins to his 2016 total. Faust, ranked 11th at 165 by FloWrestling, will see his first action this season after sitting out the first part of the campaign and Connor Bass will look to continue his strong start to the year at 174 pounds. Alec Schenk and Tyler Patrick jump into the fray at 184 and Alex Belaia-Martiniouk at 197. Kasper rounds out the Duke entry list as the No. 5 seed at heavyweight.
Looking to Add to Strong Starts
A host of Blue Devils look to add to their strong starts this weekend at the Southern Scuffle. Atkins enters 2017 with an 11-3 record after taking fifth at the Wolfpack Open. His 11 wins are the most of his career and are two more than he had all of last season. He is only two wins shy of matching his total from his first two seasons combined. At 174 pounds, Bass is 9-2 after winning the Southeast Open and finishing second at the Wolfpack Open. He is 1-0 against ranked wrestlers this season. Moving up two weight classes to heavyweight, Kasper is 11-1 overall and has two tournament titles to his name overall. He is nearly halfway to his total of 24 from the 2014-15 campaign.
Zach Finesilver Hoping to Leave Mark
Zach Finesilver, with a year under his belt, likely will face one of the seven top-20 wrestlers among the competitors at the weight class. Among those is a pair of ACC foes in No. 8 Joey Ward of North Carolina and ninth-ranked George DiCamillo of Virginia. Finesilver went 3-2 last year at the Southern Scuffle with both losses being narrow decisions.
Duke in the Rankings
Faust and Kasper stayed up in their spots in the top 20 in all three polls. Faust is the highest ranked at 11th by FloWrestling and is 18th by InterMat. Kasper is 17th in the InterMat rankings and 19th on the FloWrestling list. Unranked in the preseason polls, Kasper debuted following his performance at the Southeast Open, while Faust was among the top 15 in the preseason lists.
Dual Action Starts Jan. 8 on Long Island
The Blue Devils open the 2017 portion of their dual schedule Jan. 8 with a pair of matches on Long Island. Duke will wrestle Hofstra and LIU Post in Brookville, N.Y. The Blue Devils’ matches are set for 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., respectively. Duke’s first home dual in 2017 will come Jan. 17 against a tough Appalachian State squad. The Blue Devils will look to avenge their loss to the Mountaineers a year ago.