This is what the entire season was all about. All the dual losses, all the individual tournaments. This is what it was all for. The NCAA Tournament. Several of North Carolina’s wrestlers have dreams of being national champions. None became a reality this weekend
Junior 141-pounder Evan Henderson had the best shot of them all. Consistently ranked in the top five nationally and a returning All-American , Henderson was UNC’s most dominant wrestler all season. He finished the season with a 37-8 record , and became just the fourth Tar Heel to win at least 37 matches in two different seasons . But he fell short of his goal to bring home the title, finishing fourth after losing in the consolation finals to the overall No. 1 seed in his bracket . The fourth place finish still earned Henderson the title of All-America, becoming UNC’s first two-time All America since 2005 and the Tar Heels’ highest finisher in 18 years .
“(Henderson) used one word, ‘bittersweet,’” Coach C.D. Mock said, “He’s not upset that he isn’t a national champion right now, but the difference between fourth and second is one match."
Joining Henderson in the tournament were fellow Tar Heels Nathan Kraisser , Christian Barber , and John Michael Staudenmeyer . Kraisser, the sophomore 125-pounder, was eliminated after losing both of his matches in the tournament . Redshirt sophomores Barber and Staudenmeyer, 149 pounds and 165 pounds respectively , each lost their first match, then won their second before being eliminated in their third bouts .
Mock said that the results don’t look special to an ordinary fan, but the individual performances of the wrestlers left him feeling very excited about what’s to come.