Mountaineers get dominant win over Blue Devils


Courtesy of Andy McLean, App State Athletics

App State wrestled Duke in front of a packed Varsity Gym Jan. 24, 2023.

Trey Blake, Reporter

No. 19 App State wrestling was back in Boone Tuesday, dominating the Duke Blue Devils 42-3.
The Mountaineers came out blazing to start the night, taking the first nine matches while netting bonus points in eight of those either being pins or major decisions.
“I think we took control of a lot of matches tonight which made the score very lopsided,” JohnMark Bentley said. “We wrestled with a ton of energy.”
The night kicked off with a 125-pound bout with No. 11 ranked redshirt sophomore Caleb Smith taking on the Blue Devils’ Ethan Grimminger. Smith started work early with three takedowns within the first minute of the match. Smith continued that dominance as he ended the first period up 14-4 with five takedowns and a near fall. He started the second period with as much energy, grabbing a pin to give the Mountaineers an early 6-0 lead.
“I knew nothing of him. He’s just another guy and he wants to wrestle me, and I had to give him my best effort,” Smith said of Grimminger. “I go into every match like that. I like to focus on what I can control and give my best effort.”
The second match of the night saw redshirt freshman Ethan Oakley facing off against Logan Agin in the 133-pound match. Oakley and Agin traded takedowns early in the first period, but a dominant second period saw Oakley grab another takedown and turn it into a four-point near fall. He never relinquished his position to take a 13-3 major decision and put App State up 10-0.
Sophomore Heath Gonyer took the night’s third match 5-1 at 141 pounds. After a tight first two periods, Gonyer achieved a takedown, and he didn’t look back from there.
The fourth match saw redshirt senior Jon Jon Millner, ranked ninth nationally at 149 pounds, take on Patrick Rowland. Millner kept the Black and Gold’s streak going as he netted 2:24 of ride time in the first period alone. Millner followed that up with more command as another Mountaineer four-point near fall set him up to take a technical fall and put App State up 18-0.
Millner, who has a 7-month-old daughter and a 3-year-old son, mentioned how important his children were in motivating him to be special in the wrestling world.
“It gives you purpose. Anything you do in life, if you have purpose behind it, you’ll be a lot more dedicated to what you’re doing,” Millner said. “I want to leave a legacy for my son if he eventually does want to wrestle.”
The fifth, sixth and seventh matches of the night saw three nationally ranked wrestlers. 157-pound, no. 28 sophomore Tommy Askey, 165-pound, no. 26 redshirt junior Will Formato and 174-pound sophomore Will Miller all get lopsided wins.
Askey decided to do his best Smith impression and get three takedowns in the first period alongside an early second period takedown, while Formato shutout the Blue Devils’ Gabe Dinette 12-0.
Miller didn’t have an opponent as Duke came in without a 174-pound wrestler listed, so after those three bouts, the scoreboard read 34-0 Mountaineers.
The next two matches saw some young guns get a shot as redshirt freshmen Luke Uliano and Carson Floyd each controlled ride time and picked up major decisions.
The final match of the night saw a heavyweight bout between redshirt freshman Triston Norris competing against no. 20 Jonah Niesenbaum. The match saw a classic ‘unstoppable force meets immovable object’ as there was only one takedown the entire match in favor of Niesenbaum. The match ended as Niesenbaum halted the Mountaineers’ shutout bid, winning 3-2. The Blue Devils earned their first points and ended the contest 42-3.
Bentley spoke on how important it was to take down an in-state Power Five conference opponent.
“When you can beat teams from a conference like the ACC, it’s a statement on the program and it’s big for our fans,” Bentley said. “We wrestle big time schools here in Boone, so anytime we get an opportunity like that and get the win, it’s a great night.”
App State wrestling is back in action Sunday hosting the Appalachian Open.