DURHAM, N.C.—The Duke wrestling team will face its toughest test of the young 2017-18 campaign this weekend as the Blue Devils travel to Las Vegas for the prestigious Cliff Keen Open. The top-flight tournament features many of the top programs and wrestlers in the country and will allow Duke to see some new faces on the mat.
How to Attend or Follow the Action
Tickets are available for purchase with cash only on the day of the event. An All-Session Pass, including the championship finals, is $40. Single session passes are $15 for preliminary rounds and $20 for the championship finals. Fans who aren’t able to make it out to Las Vegas can follow every match live through FloWrestling. Live brackets on FloArena will be free to all those trying to follow along, while live video from each mat requires a FloPro subscription.
Friday, December 1
All Times Eastern
12 p.m. | Round 1 Pig Tail Championship, Round 2 of (32) Championship, Round 3 Consolation of (32), Round 4 Championship of (16), Consolation 1st of (16) Round 5 Consolation 2nd of (16)
9 p.m. | Round 6 Championship Quarter Finals & Consolation Round 1st of (8)
Saturday, December 2
12 p.m. | Round 7 Consolation 2nd of (8)
1 p.m. | Round 8 Championship Semi-Finals, Round 9 Consolation Semi Finals, Consolation Finals 5th & 6th, 7th & 8th Places
6 p.m. | CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS 1st & 2nd, 3rd & 4th Places
Taking a Glance at the Field
Overall, 46 teams will take to the mats in Las Vegas with nine of those – Ohio State (2nd), Minnesota (8th), Michigan (9th), Virginia Tech (10th), Arizona State (12th), Nebraska (13th), Cornell (14th), Northern Iowa (16th), Stanford (25th) – being ranked in the most recent NWCA top 25. Thirty-eight programs are sending at least one ranked wrestler to the tournament and each weight class features a long list of top 20 wrestlers as the Blue Devils will see opponents from the likes of Arizona State, Minnesota and Nebraska, which they would rarely see wrestling in tournaments on the East Coast.
Duke Stays Put at No. 23 in InterMat Poll
The Blue Devils, inactive this past weekend, remained steady at No. 23 in the most recent InterMat top 25 poll. Duke debuted in the rankings after a strong showing at the Keystone Classic, finishing ninth and just one point out of eighth place. It is the second time Duke has been ranked in consecutive weeks by InterMat, while the No. 23 placement is the highest.
Kasper Set for More Challenges
Duke’s redshirt senior heavyweight Jacob Kasper heads to the Cliff Keen Open as one of the top contenders to take home the title. There will be a host of the top heavyweights in attendance, including second-ranked Adam Coon of Michigan and No. 4 Tanner Hall of Arizona State. Kasper is 2-1 against ranked opponents with the loss being a 3-1 setback to No. 3 Nick Nevills of Penn State.
Duke History at Cliff Keen Open
The Blue Devils last competed at the Cliff Keen Open in 2010, advancing a pair of wrestlers to the second day of competition and placing 30th of 36 teams. Duke also wrestled at the event in 2005, finishing 37th with 14.5 points. There is currently no record of Duke landing a wrestler on the podium at the prestigious tournament as the Blue Devils aim to change that this weekend.
Finesilvers Lead Quartet of Rookies
Josh and Matt Finesilver lead a quartet of rookies headed to Las Vegas this weekend with 10-2 and 9-2 records, respectively. Other true freshmen on the list to compete are Jeremiah Reitz at 141 and Kaden Russell at 184. Reitz is 2-4 overall, while Russell is 3-4 in his first season of collegiate wrestling. Josh and Matt both placed in the two previous tournaments. Matt won his freshman – sophomore bracket at the Hokie Open, while Josh took second. At the Keystone Classic, the duo did well to advance throughout the consolation side of the brackets, taking third and fifth, respectively, after a couple of medical forfeits by opponents. Both faced their first ranked opponents in Philadelphia and will have even more tests ahead of them this weekend.
Schenk Off to Strong Start at New Weight
Duke redshirt junior Alec Schenk made a big jump up to 197 this season and hasn’t missed a beat. He is 7-3 overall already, over halfway to his total of 12 wins last season. He took fifth at the Hokie Open this season after going 1-2 at the tournament in 2016. One of the strongest members of the squad, Schenk went 2-2 against a challenging field at the Keystone Classic and is up for another challenging weekend in Las Vegas.
Breaking for Final Exams and the Holidays
The Blue Devils return to Durham and will buckle down for the final week of classes in preparation for final exams. The last day of the Fall semester classes is Dec. 8 with finals beginning Dec. 13 and ending Dec. 18. Mitch and Zach Finesilver will rejoin the team at practice following the Dec. 18 after the pair took the semester off from classes. The Blue Devils will train through Dec. 21 and return just after Christmas to prepare for the Southern Scuffle Jan. 1-2.