DURHAM, N.C. -- After spending the past three months on the road the Duke University wrestling team debuted in its new home in Card Gymnasium with a thrilling 24-15 victory over Appalachian State. The Blue Devils avenged the loss to the Mountaineers last season in capturing the first of their four home duals this season.
Duke (3-5) captured victories at 133, 141, 149, 157, 174, 184 and 285 pounds and garnered bonus points from Marcus Cain at 149, Immanuel Kerr-Brown at 157 and Trey Adamson at 174 to help secure the triumph over the Appalachian State (6-4). The Blue Devils, trailing 9-3 after three bouts, rebounded and never looked back en route to the nine-point win.
"It's definitely a good win for us," said head coach Glen Lanham. "Last year those guys really took it to us. I felt like we pressure them and took the winds out of their sail. We have some improvement, but that's with anything. I thought our guys wrestled hard and that's all that we can ask. I'm fired up and excited about that we wrestled hard."
The match started at 197 pounds with Appalachian State's Paul Weiss getting a final second takedown to edge Duke redshirt freshman Michael Chapman 3-1 for the 3-0 lead.
In a reversal of fortunes for the Blue Devils, junior Brian Self turned the tables on the Mountaineers as he scored a takedown with two ticks left in regulation for the 3-1 decision. After a scoreless first period, Self and Joe Cummings traded escapes in the next two periods leaving them at neutral for the final 1:48. Self, wrestling up from his usual 197-pound slot, stayed strong and with one final shot captured his third dual win at 285 and evened the match score 3-3.
"[Brian] Self is a warrior," Lanham said. "He's a utility wrestler. He'll wrestle anywhere from 184 to 197 to heavyweight. He's just got fight and he's going to fight to the very end. He goes out there and wrestles hard and doesn't give them anything. He's like a bulldog out there and that's what we need."
The Mountaineers garnered six points with a pin from Dominic Parisi at 125, but it was all Duke in the next four matches.
Redshirt sophomore Brandon Gambucci got things going for the Blue Devils with a convincing 8-2 decision at 133 pounds. Gambucci registered the early takedown and eventually built his lead to 7-2 after five minutes of action. The Mansfield, Ohio native continued to build his riding time in the third period, earning the bonus point to capture his 10th win of the year.
At 141 pounds, it was Duke sophomore Tanner Hough posting a thrilling 8-7 decision over William Johnson. Hough jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first period and built a 6-2 advantage midway through the second before Johnson mounted a comeback.
Trailing by four, Johnson completed the comeback late in the third period with a takedown to tie the match 7-7 with 45 seconds left. Carrying the momentum, the Appalachian State junior let Hough escape in hopes of securing a takedown, but Hough was able to defend Johnson's closing shots for the 8-7 crucial win.
Duke added big major decisions from Cain and Kerr-Brown to stretch its lead to 17-9. Cain, making his dual match debut, cruised from the opening whistle to secure the 16-6 victory over Zachary Kechter. The win was his 13th of the campaign and the first dual win of his career, while the major decision was his second of the season.
Kerr-Brown's ensuing performance left the Duke bench on its feet as he used a takedown in the final second of the match to make it 11-2 and give the Blue Devils a big four points on the scoreboard. Leading 3-1 after two periods of wrestling, Kerr-Brown dominated Aaron Scott in the final session as he scored two takedowns and a pair of penalty points before tacking on the riding time bonus for the 11-2 major decision.
"Coach [Will] Rowe has been working with [Immanuel Kerr-Brown] a lot just in getting his mindset right. He's got everything. He just needs to believe in himself and I think he's really starting to believe he can do some special things in this sport. He does everything we ask him to do. You couldn't have a better kid."
The Mountaineers rallied to within two, 17-15 with a fall at 165 before Adamson and Diego Bencomo clinched the win for the Blue Devils in the final two bouts.
Adamson controlled the bout right away with a takedown and two-point nearfall right off the bat. He continued to build a lead and then as time expired scored a takedown and two more nearfall points to clinch the four-point major decision for the Blue Devils, 14-6.
At 184 pounds, Bencomo avenged a loss earlier in the season to Jake Johnson. Bencomo used a pair of takedowns in both the first and second periods to build a solid 8-4 lead before tacking on one more takedown in the final session.
Duke returns home Saturday, Jan. 26 against Boston University at 4:30 p.m., in Card Gymnasium.
197: Paul Weiss (ASU) dec. Michael Chapman (DU), 3-1, (ASU 3-0)
285: Brian Self (DU) dec. Joe Cummings (ASU), 3-1 (3-3)
125: Dominic Parisi (ASU) fall Peter Terrezza (DU), 6:14 (ASU9-3)
133: Brandon Gambucci (DU) dec. Brett Boston (ASU), 8-2 (ASU 9-6)
141: Tanner Hough (DU) dec. William Johnson (ASU), 8-7 (9-9)
149: Marcus Cain (DU) major dec. Zachary Kechter (ASU), 16-6 (DU 13-9)
157: Immanuel Kerr-Brown (DU) major dec. Aaron Scott (ASU), 11-2, (DU 17-9)
165: Zachary Strickland (ASU) fall Randy Roden (DU), 6:10, (DU17-15)
174: Trey Adamson (DU) major dec. Collin Hedash (ASU), 14-6, (DU21-15)
184: Diego Bencomo (DU) dec. Jake Johnson (ASU), 10-4, (DU24-15)