Current Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 23:21:12 -0400
In any sport, it’s important to set the tone early. In wrestling it’s no different. The first match can set the pace for how things will go. In North Carolina’s 24-12 win against Duke, John Michael Staudenmayer was the Tar Heels’ first man on the mat, and he had every intention of being the first winner.
From the moment the first whistle blew, he was moving. Whether he was finishing a strong single-leg takedown in the first period or locking up a cradle for three near-fall points in the second period, the 165-pound redshirt sophomore was looking to dominate his opponent every second of the match.
“I like wrestling first because I like setting the tone,” Staudenmayer said. “If I go out there with a high pace, then the guy after me is going to go out there with a high pace.”
And with that high pace, Staudenmayer cruised to a 14-3 victory.
His victory led to a victory from Scott Marmoll. The 174-pound redshirt freshman wouldn’t cruise to victory. Instead, he needed two overtime periods to seal a 4-2 win.
Marmoll was trailing 2-1 with 27 seconds left in the second overtime period, but he earned an escape to tie it and got the takedown with just three seconds on the clock to get the win. He sealed the takedown with an emphatic fist pump and afterward said that Staudenmeyer’s energy set him in motion.
“I love wrestling after John because he’s always got this pace about him,” Marmoll said. “He’s out there to really dominate his opponents. It helps me roll into my match with the right focus and the right mentality.”
The two early wins led to an early lead that allowed UNC to earn its first victory against a conference foe, and its 10th straight against the Blue Devils.
Coach C.D. Mock said that he was proud of the way every one of the Tar Heels wrestled against Duke but praised Staudenmayer for getting the job done early.
“He wrestled a decent kid, a kid that we recruited actually,” Mock said, “And he just shut the door on him, beat him up.”
It seemed that Staudenmayer’s energy reverberated through more than just Marmoll. Junior Alex Utley earned a dominant 19-5 win at 184 pounds, and freshman Troy Heilmann beat his opponent 10-2 at 133 pounds.
After Staudenmayer sealed his victory, he returned to the sidelines, putting on a brand new pair of shorts. They’re UNC-themed, with the name of a national champion written on them — Kolat, the last name of the team’s associate head coach.
Staudenmayer made it very clear that the shorts were not the reason behind his or UNC’s victory but credited it to a team-wide determination to end their losing streak.
And Staudenmayer was the spark that started it.