North Carolina wrestling fans got a glimpse of their team in action at its intra-squad wrestle-offs held in Carmichael Arena on Friday. And throughout the exhibition, one thing became clear: the first-years are special.
“Those young guys set the pace of the older guys,” head coach Coleman Scott said. “And it showed that they’re here to make them better.”
Scott and his staff paired their young wrestlers against veterans in almost all of the bouts to showcase new and seasoned talent in the team. And of those 10 matches, a first-year came out on top five times.
One first-year who stood out was Austin O’Connor, who took down redshirt senior Troy Heilmann, 8-4, in the 149-pound match. The Lockport, Ill., native was a highly-touted recruit for the Tar Heels, winning four individual state titles at St. Rita of Cascia High School in Chicago.
“To be honest, I didn’t really think I would be doing this well earlier in the year," O'Connor said. "I thought it would take me a couple more months to start getting close to these guys like Troy.”