The North Carolina wrestling team avoided a two-match losing streak, defeating Iowa State, 20-17, in Carmichael Arena Saturday.
After dropping the first match of the evening, the Tar Heels (5-3) trailed 5-0 and found themselves in an early hole. Iowa State (1-6) saw its lead erased as UNC won the next three bouts by decision, with wins by Joey Ward, Troy Heilmann and Joey Moon.
Redshirt sophomore Jack Clark scored a tech fall, which propelled the Tar Heels to a 14-5 lead. The victory proved pivotal, as Iowa State stormed back into contention, tying the match at 17-17 with one bout remaining.
With the match on the line, sophomore James Szymanski fought his way to a hard-earned 5-3 win, which clinched the match for UNC, 20-17.
Who stood out?
Clark turned in an impressive performance for the Tar Heels, as he earned a tech fall, winning his match 17-2. The victory came at an important point in the match, as UNC clung to a 9-5 lead before his win.
With the extra-point win, Clark pushed the lead to 14-5 and gave his team a cushion that proved beneficial in the end.
Szymanski sealed the match for the Tar Heels in the night’s final bout, as he defeated Markus Simmons 5-3. An illegal move by Simmons opened the door for Szymanski and a takedown in the third period gave him and UNC the win.
When was it decided?
Szymanski took the mat with the match his and UNC’s for the taking. He faced a tough task in Simmons, the nation’s No. 15 125-pounder. Simmons quickly scored a takedown and appeared to have several chances at a pin early in the first period.
As the takedown was secured, UNC head coach Coleman Scott immediately exclaimed to referees that Simmons used an illegal move as he secured top position. Simmons had grabbed a headlock without control of one of Szymanski’s arms, which is a prohibited maneuver.
What had been a 6-0 deficit for Szymanski turned into 2-1, as he was awarded a point for the illegal move and Simmons was given the two-point takedown. Simmons utilized an abundance of energy trying for the pin, which proved key for Szymanski.
In the third period, Szymanski used his advantage in energy to score a takedown, securing a 5-3 win for himself and a 20-17 win for the team.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels rebounded from a tough ACC loss against Virginia Tech with the win against the Cyclones. UNC added another win while picking up valuable experience as the team prepares for a top-20 opponent in Arizona State.
Wins in nonconference matches can provide momentum going forward as the Tar Heels get ready for the meat of the ACC schedule, which includes matches against top-25 Pittsburgh and top-10 N.C. State.
Where do they play next?
The Tar Heels travel to Tempe, Ariz. as they take on No. 20 Arizona State Friday at 9 p.m.
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