The North Carolina wrestling team is a tournament team.
The Tar Heels have a decent number of individuals who can excel in individual tournaments, and coach C.D. Mock has no issue stating that.
But he also doesn’t have a problem saying the team is weak when it comes to dual meets — something that was evident in the team’s 1-2 performance at the Northeast Duals Saturday.
“We aren’t really a dual meet team and we won’t be all year,” Mock said. “We’ve got five solid guys, and we’ve got five other guys that aren’t quite solid yet.
“If two or three of those (solid) guys lose, the guys that aren’t solid have to overachieve and overperform.”
The Tar Heels lost to Central Michigan and Michigan State 18-16 and 22-19, respectively .
Though the Tar Heels snagged a 22-14 victory against Binghamton, less-than-stellar performances by usually reliable wrestlers like sophomore Nathan Kraisser prevented the team from taking home more wins.
Last season, Kraisser burst on to the scene, becoming the first Tar Heel to win ACC Freshman of the Year honors with a perfect record 5-0 record in duals against ACC competition .
But this season, Kraisser’s having trouble avoiding a sophomore slump.
“This is very common in our sport,” Mock said. “He’s no longer a young gunslinger. He’s now expected to do well and expected to win.”
Mock said that when someone performs well as a freshman like Kraisser did, it puts a target on the back of a still-developing wrestler. Mock added in order to avoid a slump, Kraisser needs to stop defending his rookie reputation.
“That’s when you start to go downhill,” Kraisser said. “I’ve got to get that fire back and be hungry again.”
The weekend wasn’t entirely bleak for the Tar Heels though.
Freshman Troy Heilmann went 2-1 with wins by decision against Michigan State and Binghamton after going 0-3 in the Tar Heels’ last dual meet in Blacksburg, Va.
“It was a crappy feeling and it was tough to get over,” Heilmann said. “Basically, I didn’t want to let it happen again.”
Heilmann used the losses to push himself harder during practice and drive himself to do extra workouts when possible.
“Coach talks about the 3-6-5 mentality, which is just get better every single day of the year,” Heilmann said. “It’s all about working out with the guys and getting in my own workouts and getting those extra workouts in.”
Mock may not believe that the Tar Heels have potential to be a competitive dual meet team, but with the drive youngsters like Heilmann have shown, improvement isn’t out of the realm of possibility for the Tar Heels.
“It’s less of a message (the losses) sent him and more of a message that he sent the team,” Mock said.
“It’s toughness. You’ve to be able to shake off the losses — that’s what he did.”
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