Nebraska picked up another win in overtime at 184, as Taylor Venz took down UNC’s No. 20 Chip Ness. Head coach Coleman Scott was not pleased with those close losses.
“We can always ask for a little bit more,” he said. “We could have blown them out of the water if we win those two overtime matches.”
North Carolina pulled out the victory, however, when Danny Chaid and Cory Daniel both posted wins by decision in the 197 and heavyweight rounds. UNC left Lincoln with a 22-14 win.
“Overall, it’s always good coming along and getting a win on the road against a top fifteen team,” Scott said. “We could have beaten them a little bit worse…but the team did well. They wrestled well and we’re making strides.”
Who stood out?
UNC was up 6-5 heading into the 149 bout when No. 4 Heilmann earned four points for UNC and a major decision, dominating No. 8 Colton McCrystal, 13-4.
The win continued a hot streak for Heilmann, who went 4-1 and placed second at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in early December.
“He wrestled a top-ten guy and he majored him,” Scott said. “He’s beating these top guys in the country. He’s just picking them off, and it’s great to see.”
Not to be outdone, Monday, a redshirt first-year, pinned No. 7 Tyler Berger in the first period of the 157 bout, avenging a close loss from Las Vegas.
“We had that match circled,” Scott said. “So for him to come out, he should have all the confidence in the world hitting that guy, taking him down and being able to do what he did.”
When was it decided?
With their lead down to 16-14 heading into the final two bouts, the Tar Heels were depending on veterans Chaid and Daniel to close out the victory.
Chaid, a senior, answered the call and beat Nebraska’s Eric Schultz. The 6-2 decision earned three points for the Tar Heels and extended the lead to 19-14.
While Chaid’s win gave the Tar Heels a cushion, Nebraska’s heavyweight, David Jensen, could have saved the match for the Cornhuskers with either a pin or major decision. It was up to Daniel, a redshirt junior, to keep the match close.
Daniel kept it close and then some. He defeated his opponent in a hard-fought, 3-2 decision to secure the victory for North Carolina.
Scott never had a doubt that the veterans would pull through.
“I knew what we were up against, and I felt we were ready to wrestle,” he said. “They proved it.”
Why does it matter?
The win in the dual was big for the Tar Heels as they look to get their season back on track. Though they last beat Appalachian State, 30-6, on Nov. 26, they suffered decisive losses to Purdue and Oklahoma State to open the season.
So, despite the losses, Scott said that Sunday’s victory proved exactly what he has been telling his team all season: that it can compete with the top teams in the nation.
“We might hit a little rocky road every once in a while,” he said, “but if we stick to the plan, we will prevail.”
When do they play next?
North Carolina wraps up its trip through the Midwest when it travels to Cedar Falls, Iowa, to take on No.15 Northern Iowa on Monday at 8 p.m.