No. 23 wrestling downs Duke and nabs first ACC victory

The Cavaliers pick up their first win since Jan. 20 in impressive fashion


Louie Hayes won his match with a 17-1 technical fall.

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

After back-to-back conference losses to ranked teams, the No. 23 Virginia wrestling team defeated Duke Saturday afternoon at Memorial Gymnasium to secure its first ACC victory of the season. The Cavaliers (12-8, 1-2 ACC) won six weight classes against the Blue Devils (2-7, 0-3 ACC) and took the visitors down 26-17.

Virginia was on the board first after Duke forfeited the opening weight class to junior Jack Mueller. Redshirt sophomore Louie Hayes then picked up more points with a dominant 17-1 technical fall.

The Blue Devils responded with back-to-back wins to cut Virginia’s overall lead to 11-7. Sophomore Josh Finesilver –– one of four brothers on the Duke team –– earned his first ACC win against Virginia sophomore Scott Kiyono at 141 pounds. At 149 pounds, Duke redshirt senior Mitch Finesilver, the team’s leader for most wins, picked up a major decision and his 87th career win. 

The Cavaliers extended their overall lead to 12 with wins in the next two weight classes. Sophomore Jake Keating and redshirt freshman Cam Coy won their bouts and picked up their 16th and 17th wins of the season, respectively. 

Duke cut the deficit to just two, however, after wins from sophomores Matt Finesilver and Kaden Russell. Finesilver –– ranked No. 16 in the country at 174 pounds –– delivered his second ACC win with an impressive 14-4 major decision. Russell followed up with a defensive pin against Virginia redshirt senior Will Schany.

With the dual on the line, redshirt sophomore Jay Aiello –– the eighth-ranked wrestler in the country at 197 pounds –– secured a major decision, and redshirt junior Tyler Love iced it with a win at heavyweight. 

While the victory will certainly boost the confidence of the Cavaliers, Duke will have to regroup after suffering its seventh loss in a row.

Virginia will return to action Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. as the team travels to Blacksburg to face in-state rival No. 11 Virginia Tech at the Moss Art Center.

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