A week ago, in two separate outings, the North Carolina wrestling team had two contrasting performances.
After a disappointing dual meet against Arizona State, the Tar Heel wrestlers bounced back in a dominating fashion while competing unattached at N.C. State’s Wolfpack Open.
So heading into a pair of duals against South Dakota State and Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., on Sunday, coach C.D. Mock said that he hoped the team would continue to display the resilience it had in Raleigh.
“We were not very happy with the way the guys wrestled on last Friday night against Arizona State. But some nice adjustments were made at the Wolfpack Open,” Mock said. “So coming out here we just wanted to keep that going — just a continuation of the guys going out there and wrestling hard.”
The momentum carried on for UNC against South Dakota State, as the Tar Heels defeated the Jackrabbits 36-6, picking up four wins by major decisions and another four by pins.
UNC continued to show strength through the first three bouts against No. 14 Nebraska, taking three matches by major decision and jumping out to a commanding 12-0 lead.
But Nebraska’s toughness in the upper-weight classes caused problems for UNC, leading the Cornhuskers to take the remaining seven bouts and the 25-12 victory.
“Basically, where we’re strong, they’re not quite as strong. They’re very young in the lightweights, as are we, but I think we’re a little tougher and more talented there. So we were able to handle them pretty well up until the 149-pound weight class,” Mock said.
“But in the upper weights we just don’t have a lot of depth and that begins to show when you face tough competition that has depth and flexibility like Nebraska.”
For sophomore Evan Henderson, who was named last week’s ACC Wrestler of the Week, failing to execute the little things cost the Tar Heels points and their chance to defeat Nebraska.
“Against Nebraska, we came out pretty good in the first three matches but then went down with the rest being losses. They weren’t bad losses though, but it was the little things that killed us,” Henderson said. “As a team, I think we can improve by just learning from experience.
“Winning those tight little battles, like we faced today, end up becoming more points on the board for us.”
Although Mock said he was not at all displeased with the way the team wrestled this weekend, similar to Henderson, he sees room for improvement.
“I felt like they wrestled very well today. But the takeaway from this weekend is that we’re wrestling tough, but there’s tremendous room for improvement,” Mock said. “That’s not a bad thing — it’s a good thing.
“And our goal as a coaching staff is to make sure that this team is much better than it is now come March. And that should happen.”
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