Jonathan Millner (left) and Josh Finesilver (Millner photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com; Finesilver photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
The Blue Devils will host in-state foe Appalachian State in Durham on Thursday night. Duke is off to their best start since 2014-2015, bringing a 6-4 record into the second half, and are looking to add to the win column. I've been very impressed with the scrappiness of this Duke squad and the ability of teammates to pick up for each other if someone has a down performance. They have been great about earning bonus points at any opportunity they can; five starters have a bonus rate of 40% or above. Logan Agin, Josh Finesilver, and Kaden Russell have a 50% bonus rate and Matt Finesilver is sitting at a 62% bonus rate. This is how they have had team success this year, but it will be tough to get bonus points against a stingy Mountaineer squad.
149 will be the marquee matchup of the night with #5 Jonathan Millner from App State squaring off with #8 Josh Finesilver. Finesilver is 21-1 on the year, with his only loss coming to the All-American from Boone. They also met in the bloodround last year at the NCAA tournament, with Millner also coming out on top. Finesilver has been incredible since that loss, winning 16 straight matches and earning the title at the Southern Scuffle; it feels like he has the momentum going right now to flip the result from the last two matches.
The other ranked matchup will be at 174, where #13 Josh Finesilver will face #31 Thomas Flitz. Finesilver is 21-2 on the season, with both of his losses occurring at the Southern Scuffle. He was able to finish the tournament with a big win and captured back some of the momentum from the losses. Flitz has a couple nice wins on the year, but this should be Finesilver's for the taking and possible bonus points.
The other two matches I'm keeping an eye on; at 125, Logan Agin returns on a three-match win streak to face #27 Caleb Smith. The other is at 165. Gabe Dinette has looked good in his last few matches and seems to be getting in stride in Durham. It will be interesting to see where he is against #21 Will Formato.