The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday March 28th

UNC wrestlers tackle Wolfpack

UNC Freshman Nathan Kraisser defeats NC State Junior Joe DeAngelo 8-3 in the 125 pound bout.
Buy Photos UNC Freshman Nathan Kraisser defeats NC State Junior Joe DeAngelo 8-3 in the 125 pound bout.

Coming into Friday’s match against N.C. State, the North Carolina wrestling team was riding a four-match losing streak that included a performance against Navy coach C.D. Mock called one of the worst he’d ever seen.

UNC turned things around against N.C. State, emerging with a decisive 30-6 victory.

The Tar Heels won eight out of the 10 matches to improve their record to 5-6, and 1-3 in the ACC.

Though the coaches and wrestlers both agreed that the team could have performed even better, they said they were very pleased with the outcome.

“Anytime you get a win over N.C. State, it’s a good win,” associate head coach Cary Kolat said.

Sophomore Evan Henderson said winning comes with some positive vibes.

“We went out and kicked some butt,” Henderson said.

“I didn’t wrestle to my full potential, but a win’s a win.”

Beating in-state rivals made the victory even sweeter. UNC has now defeated the Wolfpack in the last seven meets.

“The tradition between these two schools has been here for decades,” Kolat said. “It started decades ago, and it’s going to continue.”

Sophomore Alex Utley, who recorded the most lopsided victory in the match with a 19-3 technical fall, said the team circles the N.C. State match on the calendar every year, just as it does with Duke.

“We’re starting to pull away and show we’re the best team in North Carolina,” he said.

UNC stormed out of the gate and took the first four decisions, led by freshman 125-pounder Nathan Kraisser, who is ranked seventh, and Henderson, who is ranked sixth.

It was the first time since 2006 that UNC has had two wrestlers ranked in the top seven in their respective classes.

Kraisser has now won eight matches in a row, and 12 of his last 13. He said the key to his success was a mixture of physical and mental aspects, particularly believing he can win each and every match.

In the second half of the match, UNC kept up the pace, recording convincing wins with major decisions by John Staudenmayer, Tanner Eitel, Frank Abbondanza and the technical fall by Utley.

N.C. State notched its two wins against UNC’s 151-pounder Chris Mears and heavyweight Cody Klempay.

The win serves as a crucial confidence booster, especially with a dual match against Duke and the ACC Championship coming up.

Henderson said big rivalry matches are good practice for postseason competition.

“Our confidence is very high,” Utley said. “We’re catching it in stride at the right time. I think we’re going to do pretty good things.”

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