Kraisser’s effort certainly lit a spark in redshirt sophomore John Michael Staudenmayer in his 165 bout against Geno Morelli.
After neither tallied any points in the first two periods, Staudenmayer capitalized on an early escape and a takedown with only 16 seconds remaining in the third to gain a 3-0 advantage — a lead he’d hang onto and one that would give UNC a 12-6 lead against the Panthers.
Staudenmayer followed the takedown by securing Morelli’s leg in anticipation of a single-leg takedown. Morelli attempted to hobble his way to the outside of the mat when he slapped Staudenmayer in the face. With the referee not blowing his whistle, Staudenmayer antagonistically shoved Morelli off the mat and almost into the Pitt bench.
Staudenmayer said that despite the Panthers (13-3, 6-0 ACC) being the top team in the ACC, he wasn’t going to let that affect the way he wrestled.
“To go seven minutes and not want to go your hardest — it doesn’t make sense,” Staudenmayer said. “Just going your hardest and whatever happens happens. If you wrestle, normally things will go your way.”
Things may have gone their way for both Kraisser and Staudenmayer, but Staudenmayer’s victory would be the last one the Tar Heels would have against the Panthers. Pittsburgh’s back end of nationally-ranked wrestlers all performed at the dignified level that’s earned them the numbers next to their respective names and helped lead their team to be named the regular-season ACC champion.
The Tar Heels quickly bounced back from the disappointing loss in its match against SIUE. And yet again, Kraisser set the tone — this time with a dominating effort that opened with a prompt takedown and concluded with a pin.
Kraisser’s pin would be one of the three pins UNC would attain in the match, and, following the 157-pound match, the team’s lead reached an astounding 29-0.
The strong effort against the Panthers and assertive defeat of the Cougars bring the Tar Heels regular season to a conclusion, and Mock says this last dual meet will help propel the team into the ACC Championships.
“This was a good day for us,” Mock said. “That’s a good match for us to come off of — beating somebody up pretty good … We have our work cut out for us. On paper we look fourth or fifth in the ACC, but we are capable of having a good tournament and doing much better than that. And it’s what we’re going to try to do.”
The Tar Heels will reload their bazooka for the ACC’s best.