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The Daily Tar Heel

Wrestling Prepares for ACC Tournament

The Tar Heels have won four consecutive ACC titles and have regularly sent competitive wrestlers to NCAAs.

This season, UNC has looked vulnerable. The Tar Heels posted an 8-5 regular season record, including a season-ending loss to N.C. State.

In addition to shaky mat performances, UNC has had other distractions. Starter Chuckie Connor quit the team in February, and a multitude of wrestlers have been sidelined with by injuries.

"This season has had a lot of ups and downs," UNC coach Bill Lam said. "But the team has stuck together, and we're ready to defend our title."

What better place to do that than in the friendly confines of Carmichael Auditorium?

The ACC tournament, along with the Colonial Athletic Association and Southern Conference tournaments, will begin Saturday morning at 11 a.m.

"We're glad it's not just the ACC," JohnMark Bentley said. "It'll be bigger with more than just one row of fans. We hope we can draw off of that excitement."

UNC has four wrestlers who will be defending ACC titles -- Bentley, Corey Bell, Clint Osborn and Matt Kenny -- and are heading into the event with a heightened sense of confidence.

"We thought we were going to do better than we did this year," Bentley said. "But we have come together, as we usually do this time of year. Last year it was the same type of thing. We weren't favored then, but we are a better tournament team than we are a dual meet team."

Osborn, a junior, will have the toughest road to a title, as No. 14 Zach Breitenbach will grapple for N.C. State in the 197-pound class.

Individual titles, however, don't make all of the difference in tournament events.

"We need to win the top spots but focus too on second and third place finishes," Lam said. "They are the ones that will win it for us."

The Sports Editor can be reached at sports@unc.edu.

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