Coming off its conference win over Virginia last week, the No. 25 North Carolina wrestling team faced off against Pittsburgh in Carmichael Arena on Friday night. Although the Tar Heels started slow, they were able to turn the tide in the 141-pound matchup and never looked back for their second straight victory in a 26-10 win over the Panthers.
Pittsburgh started out hot with back-to-back wins from Junior L.J. Bentley and Senior Dom Forys to take an early 7-0 match lead. Then, the 141-pound division arrived on the mat and the crowd really came alive. Redshirt sophomore A.C. Headlee fought hard, holding the leg of his opponent twice in a close 2-2 matchup. The second time he was able to get ahold of the leg, he completed the takedown for the 4-2 victory in an overtime decision.
Redshirt senior Troy Heilman followed with a dominating 16-3 performance, moving the Tar Heels into a 7-7 tie in the overall match. The 157 pounders came in next, where UNC redshirt first-year Kennedy Monday won with an overtime takedown for the Tar Heels (8-8, 2-0) to hold a 10-7 lead at the intermission.
The Panthers regrouped during the break and won the next round over Clay Lautt to even up the score at 10-10. Then, redshirt senior Ethan Ramos brought the Tar Heels back into the lead with a crucial dominating pin performance that put North Carolina up by six. Redshirt junior Chip Ness followed and won a tough battle to increase the Tar Heel lead to nine and senior Danny Chaid in the 197-pound class moved UNC into a 23-10 controlling lead. In the heavyweight class, redshirt junior Cory Daniel secured the victory for the Tar Heels with an overtime takedown.
Who stood out?
Heilman had an impressive bout with multiple takedowns and he racked up points in a four-second pin. Ramos also scored lots of points in multiple pins before the referee called the match on a final pin from the wrestler. UNC then finished the match with four-straight victories by Ramos, Ness, Chaid, and Daniel to finish with seven wins in 10 matches on the night.
When was it decided?
Following the Tar Heel’s first win of the night from Headlee, the team gained momentum and rode it into the intermission after wins from Heilman and Monday. Although the Panthers came out strong after the intermission, the later matches proved too much for the big men of Pittsburgh to overcome UNC as it cruised to the victory. In the second-to-last matchup, Chaid all but finished off the Panthers with two takedowns in the final twenty seconds, giving the Tar Heels a 13-point advantage heading into the final round.
Why does it matter?
With the win, UNC moves to 2-0 in conference play and .500 on the season. The team is gaining momentum and can really improve its standings with a third straight victory next against No. 10 Virginia Tech.
When do they play next?
North Carolina Wrestling will match up against the Hokies next on Saturday, Feb. 3, in Blacksburg at 6 p.m.
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