“It was a good time for me to just take a breath,” Ward said. “It got my thoughts together.”
Head coach Coleman Scott didn’t have to say much to his All-American team captain.
“I just reminded him,” Scott said, “‘Nothing in this match … nothing in this dual — no matter who you’re wrestling in this rivalry — is going to be easy.'”
The Duke logo was spotless as Ward and Finesilver got back into position. The ref’s whistle blew and Ward gave his team the spark.
He went on a 4-1 run and won his match, 6-2. Minutes later, redshirt junior Troy Heilmann earned a major decision over his opponent.
Redshirt senior Joey Moon followed up with a tight 5-4 decision. Then came wins by first-year Devin Kane and redshirt junior Ethan Ramos. North Carolina had turned an 8-0 deficit into a 19-8 lead.
“You wrestle for the guy after you,” Ward said. “I’m looking to wrestle for the guy after me, Troy.”
“You see what happens: I win and then he comes out and thrashes his guy.”
The Blue Devils answered back with a major decision in the 184-pound weight class and narrowed the Tar Heels’ lead to 19-12. That set the stage for Daniel Chaid.
Chaid, a junior transfer, was wrestling in his first UNC-Duke dual. With Duke’s No. 4 Jacob Kasper still waiting to wrestle in the 285-pound class, a North Carolina win remained in doubt.
Ward gave UNC its spark. Now Chaid needed to finish what his teammate started.
With four seconds left in the second period, Chaid pinned his opponent.
Redshirt sophomore Cory Daniel lost a close 3-1 bout to Kasper, but Chaid’s pin had already put the dual out of reach.
“It’s hard to get a lot of pins in college wrestling,” Chaid said. “So when you can, that’s a pretty exciting moment.”
A massive momentum swing had changed everything for the Tar Heels. Ward started it. Chaid finished it. But it was the team effort that made it happen.
“You wrestle for the next guy,” Ward said. “When everyone’s in the zone, guys aren’t even thinking about losing.”