After opening up the Virginia Duals with a win against Rider, the North Carolina wrestling team was eliminated by losses at the hands of Edinboro and the Citadel.
Kent State took the top prize at the Duals, a 14-team double elimination tournament.
North Carolina took an 18-15 win from Rider in a first-round meet in which both teams won five matches. The only difference between the two came when sophomore Corey Mock broke the string of decisions with a pin less than three minutes into his match.
The Tar Heels gave No. 23 Edinboro all they could handle in the second round but dropped two bouts in overtime that could have changed the tone of the match completely.
“Both Evan Henderson at 141 and Jon Burns at 149 wrestled ranked opponents and took them into overtime,” UNC coach C.D. Mock said.
“And we lost both those matches in overtime, which is very upsetting.
“But had we won them, we would have won the meet.”
That loss for Henderson, the No. 14 ranked 141-pound wrestler in the country, was his only loss of the weekend, as he took wins in both the other two duals.
“Henderson, he’s very tough; he’s very good,” Mock said. “He has the ability to be an All-American this year if he can make the adjustment and be calm and a competitive D-1 wrestler on a consistent basis. Right now, he’s not consistent.”
Mock and seniors Kyle Kiss and Thomas Ferguson were the only Tar Heels to win all three of their bouts this weekend.
“I had a good week of practice going in and I felt confident,” Kiss said. “Honestly, Corey wrestled really well, and he wrestled before me all the time. It’s good when the guy in front of you is doing well — it helps you out a lot.”
The Tar Heels were matched up with the Citadel, a team UNC will face later this season, after the loss to Edinboro.
The Bulldogs shocked the Tar Heels 22-15 in a match punctuated by Bulldog heavyweight Odie Delaney. Delaney pinned freshman Frank Abbondanza just 81 seconds into the match.
Abbondanza is a natural 184-pound wrestler and was wrestling in the heavyweight class because the Tar Heels made the trip to Virginia without a true heavyweight.
“Citadel was a real disappointment … I think we’re a much better team,” Mock said. “And what’s disturbing is that where we wrestled poorly was on bottom, and bottom wrestling has a lot less to do with technique and a lot more to do with heart.”
After the 1-2 performance in the duals, Mock said his team needs to reconcile the difference between the effort in the new practice facility and their showing on the mat.
“There were about four or five guys that wrestled extremely well,” Mock said. “And about half the team just wrestled horrible. It was a combination of a lack of toughness or stupidity, but they didn’t get the job done.
“They work way too hard to go out there and lose to a team like Citadel.”
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