LAS VEGAS –For the first time in Duke wrestling history a Blue Devil landed on the podium at the Cliff Keen Invitational at the Las Vegas Convention Center as redshirt senior Jacob Kasper took third in a deep heavyweight field featuring four of the top nation's top eight wrestlers. Duke finished 25th of 46 teams overall with 32.5 points, edging Oklahoma by 3.5 points.
Kasper, seeded third in the tournament and ranked sixth nationally, opened the second day of wrestling in the semifinals against No. 3 Tanner Hall of Arizona State. The Lexington, Ohio native was the first on the board, escaping four seconds into the second period for the 1-0 lead.
With neither wrestler able to score from his feet, Kasper headed to the third with a 1-0 lead. Hall answered with an escape after about 20 seconds to tie the bout. The Blue Devil captain took a shot with time ticking down and got caught by Hall who was able to get Kasper on his back for the fall with seven seconds left in the match.
Moving down to the consolation semifinals, Kasper answered emphatically in the next match as he posted a tech fall, 15-0, over Shawn Streck of Purdue to move into the third-place match. The bonus point victory was the seventh of the season.
The consolation final featured a rematch from the Hokie Open as Kasper stood across from Stanford’s 13th-ranked Nathan Butler for the second time since November. Like his first match of the afternoon, Kasper was the first to put a point on the scoreboard, escaping Butler’s grasp early in the second period. Butler matched his effort in the third to tie the bout 1-1, but with time waning Kasper took a final shot and was awarded the takedown as time expired to earn the 3-1 victory.
Kasper is 13-2 overall on the year after going 6-1 in Las Vegas.
The Blue Devils break for final exams and the holidays before opening the New Year at the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tenn., Jan. 1-2.