Wrestlers fold in both weekend matches
Last year, when Maryland defeated North Carolina’s wrestling team at home by 15 points, Coach C.D. Mock told his wrestlers — for what he hoped would be the first and only time — that he was ashamed to be associated with them.
This weekend, that speech was reprised.
“There’s very little of it I’d be able to repeat,” Mock said of his tirade following North Carolina’s 27-6 loss to Navy on Friday in Annapolis, Md. “It’s as mad as I’ve been.”
North Carolina (4-6) dropped the match to what Mock described as a less-talented Navy team. The drubbing UNC took, he said, was simply a matter of toughness.
UNC rebounded Saturday with a more focused performance in their 21-16 loss to Maryland. But for Mock, Friday’s outing was singularly and memorably terrible.
“It was probably the worst match I’ve ever been a part of in my career,” Mock said. “We don’t know what happened. We’re not even talking about it. We gathered in the locker room after that and said that if this is all you have, we’re in trouble.”
Freshman Nathan Kraisser and sophomore Evan Henderson scored UNC’s only points on Friday, but Mock said even they, his star wrestlers, relied on talent rather than focus to win their matches.
“It was very quiet in the locker room,” sophomore 157-pounder Chris Mears said. “There was a lack of words. We just knew that there’s nothing that needs to be said, and we just needed to move on.”
Mock said that the team arrived in Maryland on Thursday to avoid Friday’s icy roads, and that the long wait might have dulled his athletes’ edge.
Whether it was because of the shorter waiting period or the indignity of the loss at Navy, the Tar Heels were able to put together a much better match against the Terrapins on Saturday, despite being without three starters.
“We made the proper adjustments for the dual against Maryland and competed a lot better,” said Mears, who defeated Maryland’s Brady Massaro 6-2 on Saturday. “Even though we lost the dual meet against Maryland, we felt a lot better about our performances.”
Kraisser, Henderson, and redshirt freshmen Christian Barber and John Staudenmayer also won at Maryland.
Mock said the best thing about the Navy meet might have been having to wrestle against a team with fewer talented wrestlers but a much greater reserve of grit. He described competing against a Navy wrestler as a guaranteed “seven minutes of hell.”
Tanner Eitel, who dropped both of his matches this weekend at 174 pounds while battling sickness, corroborated this.
“You have to look at yourself as an underdog, especially in college,” he said. “Every single guy you step on the mat with is extremely talented.
“The guy with better technique doesn’t always win, necessarily. It’s all about will power.”
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