By Duke Sports Information Staff
GoDuke.com recently sat down with Duke redshirt freshman Zach Finesilver prior to him taking to the mats in New York City for the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships. Finesilver will represent the Blue Devils at 141 pounds after earning an automatic bid with a fourth-place finish at the ACC Championships. He will be joined by his twin brother, Mitch Finesilver. Zach heads into the NCAA postseason event with a 25-12 overall record and will wrestle Mike Longo of Appalachian State in the pigtail match. He defeated Longo, 7-6, in the regular season dual. He is second on the team in falls with five and scored a pair of major decisions at the ACC Championships for the Blue Devils.
GoDuke: What was your first thought or emotion when you knew you had qualified for NCAAs? Zach Finesilver: So usually after wins, even big wins, I don’t celebrate as much. But I can’t even think what my first thought was. I just started yelling really loud and flexed up. I can’t even remember what my first thought was. Probably relief because I know I’m good enough to be there. Just relief probably.
GoDuke: What is the first food you want to eat after NCAAs? ZF: Besides everything? Probably donuts. Yeah, I’ll probably get a whole dozen donuts from Krispy Kreme and try to eat them all.
GoDuke: At what point did you know or realize you could be an NCAA Championships qualifier? ZF: I know one thing all the coaches preach to us is that Rome wasn’t built in a day. So every single day led up to me believing a little more. I think probably about halfway through the season I really started to believe in myself. These coaches have given me the tools that I can 100 percent go to the NCAA Championships, but also compete well there.
GoDuke: Do you have a match that sticks out in your mind this year? ZF: Maybe if there was one, the one that put me in the third/fourth-place match at ACC Championships. That seemed to take forever.
GoDuke: What is a word that comes into your head when you hear the name Coach Lanham? ZF: Incredible mentor.
GoDuke: What’s it like knowing you have your brother by your side at the championships? ZF: I can’t even explain how amazing it is. Words wouldn’t do it justice. We’ve always been really close, but just how close this season especially has brought us together. Every night we go to bed, right before we turn in we say ‘I love you bro, I’m proud of you.’ For me to be able to say that to him and him to say that to me has been huge. For us both to be going, it’s business as usual, but at the same time it’s real special for both of us.
GoDuke: What are your keys to success? ZF: Sometimes I get really anxious and I start looking at oh I got taken down once or I lost a match in the practice room. Well I know exactly what I have to work on so taking everything good or bad and finding a positive in it. I think that’s been a huge key to my success lately and just working off that. I know the coaches do an incredible job of encouraging us. Even in a match we lose they find stuff that we did well and stuff that we can improve on so I think that’s been very helpful for me in learning to take positives from everything. It’s a learning process.”
GoDuke: What are your thoughts about being in the pigtail match? ZF: I don’t really have a preference. Our high school coaches always preached, get yourself into the tournament, get a good warm-up and come out hard in the first match and this is kind of what it’ll get your rolling into the tournament. I think it will help get me rolling and help get my feet wet in the tournament.
GoDuke.com recently caught up with Duke sophomore Mitch Finesilver as he prepares for his second appearance in the NCAA Wrestling Championships in New York City. Mitch will represent the Blue Devils at 149 pounds after taking second at the ACC Championships. He is seeded 14th overall in his bracket and is joined by his twin brother, Zach Finesilver.
Mitch and Zach and the Blue Devils get started at Madison Square Garden Thursday, March 17 at 12 p.m. All of the action can be seen on ESPN3.
GoDuke: What was the toughest part for you in moving up two weights to 149? Mitch Finesilver: Definitely the transition was the toughest. I was thinking in my head ‘Is this the right move? Should I have redshirted? Should I have waited and grown some more?’ I definitely think it worked out in the end.
GoDuke: First food you plan on eating after NCAAs? MF: Last year I was thinking ice cream but this year I’m feeling like Mexican food. Just a big burrito or something like that.
GoDuke: You were unhappy with your performance at the Hokie Open to start the year. Was that just a lack of confidence in your new weight? MF: I think it was a little bit of both. I went in trying a lot of different things when I probably should have just stuck to what I do best. It was a good thing for me at the time, helped me to be able to move forward into the rest of the season.
GoDuke: Do you feel a little more at ease this year knowing what to expect at NCAAs? MF: I definitely think I’m more at ease. I feel calmer this time around. Last year was “aaah” NCAAs and this year is a little more relaxed and I know I just need to get it done there.
GoDuke: What is the first word or words that you think of when you hear the name Coach Lanham? MF: Great man
GoDuke: What’s it like knowing your brother is by your side this time? MF: It’s awesome. I’ve done that for my whole life and last year was a little hard not having him there. We’ve always gone through the same things. And this year it’s nice to have him there as we go through the same things together.
GoDuke: What are your keys to success? MF: My keys to success are to stay focused and just believe in myself.
GoDuke: What’s it like wrestling against Coach Rowe in the room? MF: Battling Coach Rowe is tough. He can beat me pretty good sometimes. He can just turn it on and those days are usually pretty rough for me to say the least. But I think I’m starting to wear him down. We’ll see in the coming years how it plays out.
GoDuke: What’s it like knowing your parents are there watching? MF: It’s awesome. They’ve always supported me and my brothers and siblings in whatever we’ve done. Regardless of how we’ve done, win, lose or draw, they say ‘I’m proud of you.’ It’s awesome having them there.