Ramos leaped out to a major-decision lead, but before he could clinch a technical fall, he turned Monarch first-year Antonio Agee on his back for the full takedown. With three bouts to go, the ninth-ranked Ramos had already guaranteed the Tar Heels (1-0) the dual-match victory, as they pulled ahead 25-6 en route to a 28-12 win over Old Dominion (0-2).
“We click as a team more this year,” redshirt senior Joey Ward said. “We all came together and we're wrestling for each other. It's nice, it's fun. You see people smiling and laughing even before the match, because everyone is just ready to go.”
The Tar Heels got a big performance from the eighth-ranked Ward in the 141-pound bout. Ward wasted no time, surprising redshirt first-year Kenan Carter with a pin in just 85 seconds.
Carter wasn’t the only one surprised.
"I put a lot of people on their backs, but I don’t usually pin people," Ward said. "I was joking with one of our coaches. Right when I came off the mat, I was like, ‘I don't pin people.’”
UNC sophomore James Szymanski also tacked on six points for the Tar Heels with his pin of redshirt first-year Steven Simpson in the first bout.
Even UNC's losses spoke volumes about the team's improvement. Redshirt sophomore Jack Clark and junior Danny Chaid both fought tightly-contested battles against ranked Old Dominion opponents until the closing seconds, both falling by decision.
“Danny Chaid is two seconds away from beating that kid,” Head Coach Coleman Scott said. “We won the second and third periods in all of those matchups.”
Scott hopes the close losses can serve to boost his wrestlers' confidence.
“They underestimate how good they can be,” Scott said. “It doesn't matter if we have a bunch of unranked guys; we are going to be in a dogfight every single match. And that's what we want.”