Henderson’s dejected tone contrasted starkly with UNC’s promising start to the dual meet with ASU, the Tar Heels’ first of the season.
Decisions by freshman Joey Ward and redshirt freshmen Christian Barber and John Staudenmayer, as well as Henderson’s major decision, staked UNC to a slim 10-6 lead through five bouts.
But the tide abruptly turned during the 174-pound bout in which UNC sophomore Frank Abbondanza, largely overwhelmed by his ASU opponent, became pinned to the mat and automatically ceded six points to the Sun Devils.
Three bouts later, Jake Barnhart conceded yet another pin, handing ASU an insurmountable 21-13 advantage before freshman Nathan Kraisser cut the final margin of defeat to five points.
“It’s unacceptable,” Barnhart said of his defeat.
As coach C.D. Mock explained, simple math was not in his team’s favor.
“In order to win dual meets, five guys have to win. But the other five that don’t win need to give up three point losses,” Mock said. “We won five matches tonight — we lost because we got pinned to two of them.”
“I don’t like getting pinned,” Mock continued. “There’s just no excuse for it, and it’s something that we have to fix.”
Ordinarily, a loss in just the second meet of the season would not create a cause for alarm, but Henderson sensed that both he and his team needed to reevaluate their commitment and approach.
The loss may have stung, but Henderson said the way in which the Tar Heels lost — namely, dropping decisions without salvaging many points — was a greater source of consternation.
“We gotta have a sense of pride when you’re down — not giving up that pin, not giving up those points, not giving up anything,” Henderson said. “It’s like, ‘So what, he’s going to win, but I’m going to get my takedown, I’m going to get my last point, I’m going to score.”
Henderson admitted to committing a similar lapse himself, shouldering ample blame for a performance marred more by a lackluster mental approach than physical errors.
“You need to show that you’re freaking dominant,” Henderson said of his team’s philosophy, “and if you don’t do that, it should be almost considered a loss.
“I lost that match.”
Contact the desk editor at email@example.com.