DURHAM, N.C.—Duke wrestling continued its strong start to the 2017-18 season this past weekend with solid showings at both the Keystone Classic and the Wolfpack Open. A host of Blue Devils competed at both with those likely to redshirt this season making the trip to NC State for the local tournament.
Numerous notable items came out of the performances over the weekend as Duke heads into the final month of the calendar year with one big tournament left in the Cliff Keen Open in Las Vegas.
Duke Moves to No. 23 in InterMat Poll
The Blue Devils, on the heels of a ninth-place finish and landing four wrestlers on the podium among a strong field at Keystone Classic, earned a spot in this week’s top 25 InterMat Poll. Duke debuts this season at No. 23, marking the third time in program history it has earned a spot in the weekly rankings. The No. 23 ranking is the highest in Duke history with the Blue Devils previously coming in at 25th and 24th in consecutive weeks in November of 2015.
Kasper Stays Put at 6, Mitch Finesilver Moves Up
Redshirt senior heavyweight Jacob Kasper remained at No. 6 in the latest heavyweight poll after coming in second at the Keystone Classic. Kasper is 7-1 overall on the year with the lone loss coming against third-ranked Nick Nevills of Penn State. He is 2-1 against top 20 foes this season and is expected to face more tough competition at the Cliff Keen Open.
Mitch Finesilver, the top finisher at 157 pounds at the Wolfpack Open, won his second tournament of the year and was recognized for his efforts with a No. 9 ranking this week. The redshirt junior won both tournaments he entered this season and is 10-0 on the year with seven of those being bonus point victories. This past weekend, Mitch won his first four matches of the tournament by fall, tech fall, major decision and fall.
Finesilver Brothers Rack Up the Wins
Over the weekend with all four Finesilver brothers – Josh, Mitch, Matt and Zach – in action, the quartet racked up a lot of wins for one family in one day. Mitch went 5-0 and Zach posted a 3-1 mark at the Wolfpack Open to score eight victories. At the Keystone Classic, Josh was 6-1, two of which were medical forfeits, while Matt went 4-2, one of which was a medical forfeit. Overall, the four brothers combined to go 18-4 in a single weekend of wrestling.
Atkins Performs Well in 2017 Debut
After missing the Hokie Open at the beginning of the season, senior 125-pounder Thayer Atkins jumped right into action at the Keystone Classic. The veteran won his first two matches to advance to the semifinals before falling to 12th-ranked Sebastian Rivera of Northwestern. Atkins eventually finished fifth overall, matching his highest career finish in a tournament.
Duke to Hit 2018 Running
The Blue Devils, with their last competition in 2017 coming Dec. 1-2, will hit the ground running in 2018. Duke starts the year at the annual Southern Scuffle Jan. 1-2. The Blue Devils return to Durham and prepare for the Carolina Duals in Chapel Hills Jan. 5. Duke heads west again to Greeley, Colo., for a pair of matches Jan. 14 before debuting at home Jan. 19. Overall, Duke will wrestle eight duals and one tournament in the month.
Follow Duke Wrestling Through the Lens
Local photographer Peyton Williams will be spending 2017-18 chronicling the Duke wrestling season through a photo blog. Make sure you follow Peyton Williams on social media and through his photo blog here: htt
https://www.accphotos.com/blog/tag/2018-duke-wrestling-story/. He will take in practice and weight room sessions as well as documenting moments in the athletic training room and in matches over the course of the season to give an inside look at the program.