Ward’s loss gave N.C. State a 7-6 lead in a dual that they would eventually win.
"In wrestling matches, you have to have everyone," junior Christian Barber said.
And against N.C. State, UNC (8-4, 0-2) didn't have Ward.
He suffered his fourth loss of the season, but he would not give up a fifth.
At the first blow of the whistle, there was no doubt Ward would win his second match of the day.
Ward scored a quick takedown to start the first period and did not look back. Ward scored takedown, near-fall and escape points in the match — and Pearce could not keep up with his speed.
“I just wanted to score as many points as I could, and you saw it,” Ward said.
Ward took advantage of his first takedown and dominated on top, scoring near-fall points twice in the first period.
“I just wanted to be there for the team in the second match and that’s why I came out hot and set the tone again and got back to being myself,” Ward said.
After a quick escape to start the second period, Ward put his speed on show for the rest of the match.
Before the whistle was blown to start the third period, the win was all but secured. But Ward put an exclamation point on the match with one last push for a technical fall.
“If I’m worried about scoring points, I’m not worried about losing, ever,” Ward said.
Ward took down Pearce and allowed him to get on his feet, and then repeated the process to score points. Ward fell just two points short of a technical fall, but he was still able to set the tone for his team’s eventual victory.
After a disappointing loss to N.C. State, North Carolina came out flat against Drexel, going down 7-0 after their first two bouts. But Ward set that straight in a hurry.
“I felt like we could win every other match,” Coach C.D. Mock said about the momentum Ward gave the team.
Ward’s major decision put North Carolina on the board for the first time and drove UNC to win six of the final eight bouts to secure the victory.
For Ward, who is ranked No. 10 in the nation at 141 pounds, the match against Speno is one he will look back at as an opportunity missed.
But he’s looking forward to wrestling Speno again.
“I’ll take that loss for now, but I’ll see that guy again,” Ward said.