Wrestlers ?ounder against ACC foes
North Carolina wrestling coach C.D. Mock has said his team needs to start winning matches it’s not supposed to win.
The unranked Tar Heels had plenty of opportunities to do just that when two top-20 teams rolled into Chapel Hill this weekend.
But for the most part, the Tar Heel wrestlers failed to meet Mock’s expectations.
North Carolina fell 24-9 to No. 11 Virginia on Friday and dropped Saturday’s match 32-9 to No. 9 Virginia Tech.
Six of Virginia’s 10 starters and four of Virginia Tech’s were ranked in the top 20 in their respective weight classes. Only three North Carolina wrestlers are nationally ranked.
Last weekend the Tar Heels won all three of their dual meets against unranked non-conference opponents.
But as UNC entered ACC competition this weekend, it wasn’t able to build upon that success.
“Honestly, it didn’t go that much different than if you had taken a poll before the match,” Mock said.
He also said the Tar Heels made too many technical mistakes, which he attributed to inexperience.
But Mock said those kinds of errors can be corrected in practice.
Another problem with fewer concrete remedies was much more concerning to Mock — a lack of determination.
“There were a couple guys I was very disappointed in,” Mock said. “I felt like I didn’t see the fight out there that we wanted to see.”
Not everyone wearing a blue singlet showed a lapse in mental toughness. In fact, two of the younger Tar Heels on the UNC roster pulled off impressive upsets.
Freshman 125-pounder Nathan Kraisser claimed two victories over top-10 opponents: No. 7 Matt Snyder of Virginia on Saturday and No. 4 Jared Garnett of Virginia Tech on Sunday.
And against Virginia, sophomore 174-pounder Tanner Eitel knocked off No. 14 Jon Fausey of Virginia in the most exciting match of the weekend.
Nursing a shoulder injury, Eitel fell behind in the first two periods while trying to fend off Fausey’s attacks. In the face of a 5-1 deficit in the third period, Eitel fought his way back into the match.
The turning point came when Eitel caught his opponent off guard, pinning him on his back and turning the tide of the match.
Eitel crafted a 9-6 lead and eventually won the bout by a 12-10 margin.
“I knew in my mind I could beat him, so I just stuck it out,” Eitel said. “I tried to attack his weaknesses and play away from his strong areas, and it ended up working out in my favor.”
The victory was especially sweet for Mock, who had recruited Eitel’s opponent heavily — only for Fausey to turn him down in favor of Virginia.“It’s nice to beat his butt after that,” Mock said while laughing. “Very nice.”
But it was one of the few times all weekend that a Tar Heel wrestler beat someone he wasn’t supposed to beat.
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