The North Carolina wrestling team traveled to Albany, New York, this weekend for the Journeymen Classic. The tournament was the team’s second of the year and saw several Tar Heels put up impressive performances.
The Tar Heels were part of a stacked group of teams that included national powers Ohio State, Arizona State and N.C. State, among others.
Twelve wrestlers took the mat for UNC, led by redshirt senior Joey Ward and redshirt junior Ethan Ramos, both nationally ranked wrestlers. Ward brought home the only perfect finish for the team, winning all three of his matches. Ramos fell just short of Ward’s performance, dropping his final match 11-10.
Along with Ramos, three other wrestlers notched two wins for the Tar Heels. Sophomore James Szymanski bounced back from a 5-3 defeat in his second match, ending the day with a 3-2 victory. Redshirt sophomore heavyweight Cory Daniel brought home two hard-earned victories, winning in sudden victory and overtime in his respective matches.
Who stood out?
Ward was the lone Tar Heel to go undefeated Sunday. Ward took home first place in his pool with three wins. The redshirt junior capped off his day with a 5-2 win against nationally-ranked Ronnie Perry from Lock Haven.
Redshirt senior Joey Moon picked up two wins for the Tar Heels. Moon might have had the biggest win for the team, knocking off Minnesota’s Jake Short, who was the No. 9 157-pounder nationally entering the match. The win came in sudden victory.
Ramos earned a second-place finish in his pool, falling just short of a perfect day. After winning by pin fall, Ramos won in a hotly contested match against Minnesota’s Nick Wanzek. The redshirt junior fell 11-10 to Arizona State’s Zahid Valencia in a competitive affair. The two were headed to overtime at 11-11 until a successful challenge from Arizona State’s coach resulted in a loss for Wanzek.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels faced stiff competition Sunday, competing against several teams that rank in the top 25 nationally. Facing some of the best early on, UNC will be prepared as it enters the dual-meet season and eventually conference competition.
The wrestlers were tested Sunday, competing three times with short periods of rest. While they won’t encounter that in dual meets, the Tar Heels can use this added conditioning in the future to fight through adversity. Also, a grind like Sunday’s tournament can aid in the mental game.
Where do they play next?
The Tar Heels will host their first home match of the season Saturday as they take Old Dominion at 7 p.m.
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