The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday March 24th

UNC wrestling relies on freshman Nathan Kraisser

North Carolina wrestling coach C.D. Mock is in his 10th season coaching UNC — 10 years of heading a roster of 20-plus Division-I wrestlers, some nationally ranked.

Has he ever had a freshman start his career as strong as Nathan Kraisser?

“Never,” the coach said following UNC’s 24-9 loss to No. 11 Virginia on Friday.

These are powerful words from an experienced coach who doesn’t often hand out compliments, but they typify the freshman’s dominance so far this season.

Kraisser, the 13th-ranked 125-pounder in the nation, i“mproved his dual record”: to 8-0 this weekend against UVA and No. 9 Virginia Tech, beating two seniors ranked in the top seven of the weight class.

“I call him the ever-ready bunny, and the team has been calling him Iceman,” Mock said. “He’s got it down. He goes one speed the whole time.”

Kraisser says his dominant start is a product of his wrestle-in-the-moment approach that has compounded his confidence.

“I’m not worrying about looking in the future, like, ‘If I win this match what happens then?’” he said. “I’m just taking it one match at a time and not trying to look too far ahead.”

Friday he won an 8-5 decision against senior Matt Snyder, the No. 7 wrestler in the weight class. Kraisser raced out to an early 5-2 lead in the first period after a takedown and a three-point near fall, and he cemented the win with another takedown in the third.

“(The early lead) gave me some confidence,” Kraisser said. “I knew I couldn’t coast, but I didn’t have to be banging the whole match trying to get points. So I played it smart … It wasn’t so much of a grind but just a strategy kind of match.”

Saturday he returned for his second win of the weekend against a nationally ranked senior.

The progression of the match was nearly identical. Kraisser had a takedown and three-point near fall to jump out to a 5-0 lead, and closed out the match in the third. He won 9-2.

As a 125-pounder, Kraisser wrestles first. But the Tar Heels couldn’t capitalize on his wins to begin both matches. They would only score six more points in each meet.

“We underperformed,” redshirt sophomore Tanner Eitel said. “We’re a young team, so I think we have plenty of room to grow.”

Mock, meanwhile, pointed to the team’s depth as the reason for disappointing results.
“We’re lean as cheap toilet paper,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of options.”

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