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The Daily Tar Heel

Bell Ends UNC Career With 4th ACC Title

Senior Corey Bell became the first wrestler from the state of North Carolina to win four ACC titles Saturday, ending a surprisingly illustrious career with a 6-5 win against N.C. State's Dustin Kawa in the 174-pound weight class.

"This is a kid who was all but a walk-on," UNC coach Bill Lam said. "He came to school for books."

But he became a wrestling star.

After winning the ACC title in the 184-pound weight class his freshman year in his hometown of Durham, Bell finished his career in Chapel Hill at 174 pounds, the third class at which he has won a title.

"After I won my first one in Durham, everyone was like, 'You're going to be a four-time ACC champion, rah rah rah!'" Bell said. "But I wouldn't wish this upon anybody. When you're No. 1, everybody gives 110 percent to beat you."

Kawa was one of those competitors, and he put Bell into a blind rage.


With 15 seconds left in the first period and Bell leading 4-3, Kawa inadvertantly elbowed Bell in the eye, causing him to hop around violently, covering the painful bruise.

The injury forced Bell to change his strategy.

"I couldn't even see what he was doing," Bell said. "My eye had shut up, so I just had to grab at him."

In the second period, Bell and Kawa alternated escapes, making the score

5-4 in Bell's favor. In the last minute of the third period, Bell went into delay mode.

"That's why I was backing up," Bell said. "I just wanted to win."

With five seconds left, the referee called Bell for his delay. Since Bell already had been warned, Kawa was awarded a point, tying the match at 5.

Bell had more than one minute of advantage time, which earned him a point when the match ended, giving him the

6-5 win.

Bell appreciated Kawa's competitiveness but not his tactics.

"I'm not mad at him (for the elbow). He's a competitor. He was just trying to win," Bell said. "But this guy, he came to Carolina Wrestling Camp every year. I showed him all my moves, and then he tries to beat me in front of my family.

"C'mon, man. Give me a little more credit that that."

After the match, Lam was appreciative of Bell's career and character.

"In some ways, I won't miss him," Lam said with a smile. "But in a lot of ways, I will miss him a whole lot."

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The Sports Editor can be reached at sports