Location: Moss Arts Center - Blacksburg, VA
Day & Time: 08 FEB 20 at 5:30pm
Viewing: ACCN Extra and in-person (SOLD OUT)
Updates: Twitter @HokiesWrestling, and Trackwrestling
The Opponent: Duke University Blue Devils
2018-2019 Season and Now
Duke University Wrestling's dual record last year was an atrocious 2-9 (0-5 ACC), finishing last in both the conference's regular season standings and in the ACC tournament. Last year's match was very lopsided with Virginia Tech winning 40-3. The Blue Devils only won one match, where then ranked #6 Mitch Finesilver beat Ryan Blees at the 149lbs weight class. Six Hokies were able to score bonus points and Duke actually forfeited the 133lbs weight class.
This 2019-2020 Duke season is going much worse, but it is to be expected. For their dual record, they are currently 0-13 (0-2 ACC). They have been shut out in five of these duals. Their notable losses have come against the ranked teams of: #25 South Dakota State, #10 Lehigh, #18 Minnesota, #12 Pittsburgh, and #9 North Carolina. But non-collegiate wrestling fans do not understand the predicament Blue Devils Wrestling goes through. Duke University does not offer scholarships for wrestling. Every single "walk-on" on that roster pays their own way or relies on other financial aid. But all of these grapplers do it for the love of the sport.
Other notes for the Blue Devils' roster is all the starters are either r-Sophmore or younger. They have zero seniors on their roster and the wrestlers that are juniors are all taking redshirts. Also they have ranked wrestlers in their line up.
Coach: Glen Lanham
Coach Lanham has been with Duke University for 10 years and has been the head coach for eight of those seasons. Prior to Duke he had been an assistant coach at Oklahoma State, Purdue, and North Carolina that spanned six years. His head coaching record is 43-76. He has had only one winning season, 2011, where his squad was 11-7. To coach Lanhams defense, he has improved the Blue Devils NCAA Championship's placement each year. His most recent is finishing 24th at the tournament. He has personally coached six All-Americans, but none that have won a NCAA championship title. Coach Garland's squad has never been crowned the ACC Champion, with their highest placement being fourth.
Glen Lanham started his collegiate career at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 1983 and he earned an All-American status in 1985 at the 158lbs weight class. He finished his career at Oklahoma State earning his second All-American honors in 1987. There was no info on his career record.
Duke does not have a 125lbs wrestler on its roster this year. They have taken a forfeit every match.
133lbs: Harrison Campbell (r-SO, Calabash NCA)
Campbell has bumped up from 125lbs where he had wrestled at for the past two year. Campbell faced Prata last year where he lost a major decision, 12-4. He is 3-17 this year and 11-36 for his career.
141lbs: Bryson Neace (FR, McDonough GA) or Ty Mills (r-FR, Brownsburg IN)
Neace has seem to have taken over the starting spot. He has wrestled in the last two duals for Duke after only participating in three open tournaments. He has yet to win any of his dual matches. His season and career record is 3-7.
Mills was the starter as he wrestled in seven duals at the beginning of the season. He has not wrestled since the beginning of January and Duke actually forfeited the 141lbs weight class for three duals. Its not clear if he has suffered an injury or the coaches are trying something new. His season and career record is 4-20.
149lbs: Wade Unger (FR, Montvale NJ)
Unger has been leading the charge this season as the would be starter, Josh Finesilver, takes a redshirt to adjust to a weight bump. He has held his own as a true freshman, going 10-11 this season.
157lbs: Eric Carter (r-SO, New PA)
Carter was a former 149lbs for his first two years but has now bumped up. This is partly due to no other Duke wrestlers being able to make this weight. Carter has yet to win a dual this year. He is currently 3-21 and 13-35 for his career.
165lbs: Benjamin Anderson (r-SO, Pleasant GroveUT)
Anderson was the 157lbs starter last year, but has moved up a weight class. Last year he lost to BC LaPrade in a 14-5 major decision. He also somehow qualified for the NCAA tournament with a 9-16 record, but to his credit, did have one of the strongest strength of schedules. He is 2-9 this year and has a career record of 21-30
174lbs: Mason Eaglin (r-FR, Port Orchard WA)
Duke's best starter in its current line up. Eaglin currently holds the spot as the second Finesilver brother, Matt, takes a redshirt. Eaglin has beaten one ranked wrestler this year and he is 18-8 on the season. His career record is 24-14 when adding his redshirt 165lbs season.
184lbs: Kai Blake (FR, Greenwood Village CO)
Blake is another true freshman for the Blue Devils. He gets the starting spot as he is the only 184lber on Duke's roster. Blake's season and career record is 5-20 while he is still searching for his first dual win.
197lbs: Vincent Baker (FR, Roswell GA)
The last and forth true freshman in Duke's squad. Baker has been thrust into the lineup due to Kaden Russell redshirts for a weight adjustment from 184lbs and dealing with an injury sustained in November. He is 4-20 for this season and his career. He is also seeking his first dual win.
HVY: Ben Frye (r-SO, Dublin OH)
Frye is an interesting story as he joined in the team in January of 2020 and is actually in his first season as a collegiate wrestler. He is a weakside defensive end for the Duke Blue Devils football team. He has taken over for then starter Jonah Niesenbaum. Fyre is 1-1 for this season and his career. His win came via pin in the Gardner-Webb dual.
Rewind to Sunday, there's some good and some bad for the Old Dominion match. The negative: Prata dropped another close match, this time he was on the receiving end of being ridden out. Once again,we see Moore almost give up the match in the last period. Its become quite well known he has a gas tank issue. Its unknown why Andonian cut his opponent so early after the take downs, whether strategy or he couldn't hold them. But again its seen that he can't close out the third period if he doesnt have a big first. For positives: I loved how Gerardi responded being down in the first period. Also very impressed with the back end of the line up shutting the door on ODU. Especially Smeltzer smelling blood in the water to get the major decision.
Virginia Tech goes into its match against Duke with six ranked wrestlers: #16 Joey Prata (125lbs), #19 Mitch Moore (141lbs), #16 BC LaPrade (157lbs), #6 David McFadden (165lbs), #2 Hunter Bolen (184lbs), and #19 John Borst. I'm more shocked than last week to see Prata ranked, (he still has the worst win percentage, for a ranked wrestler, in their respective weight class). McFadden finally gets dropped from the top five. He is gonna have to close out strong to get one of the top four seeds for the NCAAs.
125: #16 Prata forfeit (6-0 VT)
133: Gerardi maj. dec. Campbell (10-0 VT)
141: #18 M. Moore maj. dec Neace (14-0 VT)
149: Andonian dec. Unger (17-0 VT)
157: #16 LaPrade maj. dec. Carter (21-0 VT)
165: #6 McFadden maj dec. Anderson (25-0 VT)
174: Eaglin dec. Hughes (25-3 VT)
184: #2 Bolen fall Blake (31-3 VT)
197: Smeltzer maj dec. Baker (35-3 VT)
285: #19 Borst dec Frye (38-3 VT)
There should be no nerves going into this dual and should be a good senior night for most. These are gimme wins that will help bolster seeds for the ACC tournament so a loss would be catastrophic. Unfortunately Hughes has the toughest opponent, and Eaglin has the better overall record and head-to-head record (he beat Lautt of UNC). Those that get to go to this match, I hope you enjoy the last home meet of the season.