Today marks the first of our conference previews for the 2019-20 season. TOM is starting with a conference that is low on numbers, yet high on talent. Though there are only six teams in the ACC that sponsor wrestling, the conference has two wrestlers that are ranked #1 in the preseason. There is another that is ranked second and a third that comes in fourth place. That’s a far cry from the 2006-07 season where the conference did not produce a single All-American. Since that time, each of the six schools have shown significant improvements in their own way. The conference has produced at least eight All-American’s every year since 2013. Within the last four years, two ACC teams have captured NCAA trophies by placing in the top-four.
Here’s what to expect from the ACC in 2019-20. We have a look at all six teams, returning All-Americans, impact freshmen, a master conference dual schedule, notable non-conference duals and of course, conference rankings!
Duke Blue Devils
Head Coach: Glen Lanham (eighth-year)
Throughout the tenure of Glen Lanham as head coach of the Blue Devils, the Duke program has been known as the team that continually does more with less. Armed with no athletic scholarships, Lanham’s has taken the program to new heights with a top-25 finish in 2018 and five national qualifiers in each of the last two seasons. Without the help of high-profile recruiting classes, Lanham has had to develop his stars instead of making slight modifications to high school All-Americans. Even so. Duke has had a wrestler make the NCAA podium in each of the last six seasons. For comparison’s sake, in the ACC, only Virginia Tech has surpassed that mark. NC State is also on a six-year AA streak. That being said, the Blue Devils run of All-Americans is in danger of ending in 2019-20. Half of the Finesilver foursome (Mitch and Zach) have graduated, while Josh and Matt have qualified for Olympic redshirts and intend on taking the year off. Perhaps the team’s top wrestler not named Finesilver, Kaden Russell, also is slated to use a regular redshirt. That leaves Duke with only one wrestler that has NCAA experience in Ben Anderson. Ben could be bumping up from 157 to 165 this year, as well.
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