Appalachian State University wrestling began its final weekend of the regular season in impressive fashion, routing Duke, 29-6 in non-conference action at Varsity Gymnasium on Saturday. Appalachian State (12-4) will wrestle its final dual against Davidson on Sunday, while Duke (3-10) looks forward to its
ACC tournament in two weeks. Sophomore Russ Benner (Roselle Park, N.J./Roselle Park) kicked off Appalachian’s efforts at 149 pounds. In his first dual of the season, the Mountaineer carried a 3-1 lead into the third period before expanding it to an 11-2 major decision. Senior Chip Powell (Greensboro, N.C./S.W. Guilford) followed at 157 pounds, building an 8-0 lead after two periods before falling just one point short of major decision in his 12-5 victory.
No. 15 Kyle Blevins (Sapulpa, Okla./Sapulpa) failed to break open any big leads at 165 pounds but did lead by as many as six points as he captured an 8-2 win. Carter Downs (Jupiter, Fla./Jupiter Christian) returned to the Appalachian lineup at 174 pounds. The senior capitalized on a 4-0 first-period lead and was able to expand the advantage but once again the Mountaineers fell short of bonus points in Downs’ 12-5 win.
Senior Austin Trotman (Winston-Salem, N.C./Mount Tabor), ranked No. 11 in the nation entering the weekend, earned his first takedown around the two minute mark of the first period. Leading 5-1 entering the final stanza, Trotman rattled off three more escapes en route to a 12-4 major decision.
Freshman Paul Weiss (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) kept the Black and Gold winning streak alive, scoring a second period takedown and bringing his Blue Devil opponent to the mat with 10 seconds remaining in the match to triumph, 5-2. Having won the first six bouts of the match, Appalachian saw itself in possession of a 20-0 lead to begin the evening.
Duke staved off the shutout at 285 pounds, as Robert Mello squeaked out a 3-2 decision to put the Blue Devils on the scoreboard, trailing 20-3. Junior Tony Gravely’s (Martinsville, Va./Magna Vista) chaotic 125-pound match saw the Mountaineer leading 6-4 with 30 seconds to go. His Blue Devil opponent took an 8-6 lead with 10 seconds left before Gravely answered to tie the match with a reversal. As the final ticks elapsed, Gravely notched the decisive pin with less than 5 seconds to go and sealed the ASU victory with the Apps in front 26-3.
Duke picked up its final win at 133 pounds, when Brandon Gambucci pulled out an 8-6 decision. To cap off the night, senior Mike Kessler (came to matt to face Duke’s Tanner Hough. After a scoreless first period, Kessler rode the duration of the second, picking up two near-fall points in the process. It took the Mountaineer nearly a minute to escape in the third period, but his efforts would put the final point on the board, as Kessler came out in front, 3-0.
Appalachian State concludes its regular season on Sunday as the 2012 Southern Conference champions look to clinch the outright title with a win against Davidson. Action begins at 2 p.m. in Varsity Gymnasium.