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The Daily Tar Heel

Year in Review: UNC wrestling achieves best NCAAT finish since 1995, other milestones

Troy Heilmann wins

UNC redshirt senior Troy Heilmann won gold in the 149-pound weight class at the ACC Championship on March 3 at Carmichael Arena.

The No. 24 North Carolina wrestling team finished its year 9-11 (3-2 ACC), going above .500 in conference play for the first time under head coach Coleman Scott. 

The Tar Heels capped off their season with a 20th place team finish in the NCAA tournament, their highest finish since 1995. 

UNC’s tournament run was highlighted by redshirt senior Troy Heilmann and redshirt junior Chip Ness, both of whom earned All-American honors this season. The accomplishment marked the first time since 1995 that UNC has finished the season with two All-Americans. 

UNC redshirt senior Troy Heilmann waits at the podium after winning gold in the 149-pound class at the ACC Championship on March 3 at Carmichael Arena.

Heilmann finished fourth at 149 in the tournament — the highest finish by a Tar Heel since 1996. Ness entered the tournament unranked, but he took down three ranked wrestlers before finishing seventh at 184 in the tournament. 

It’s no surprise that the Tar Heels shone most in the post season this year, finishing with two ACC champions in Heilmann and redshirt senior Ethan Ramos, as well as seven automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament. 

The team’s regular season schedule was riddled with the nation’s top programs, a tactic Scott used to prepare his wrestlers for the end-of-year tournaments. In their twenty regular season duals, the Tar Heels wrestled 12 teams that finished the season in the top 25. Among these matches were wins over both No. 13 Nebraska (22-14) and No. 18 Minnesota (26-15). Nebraska went on to finish ninth in the NCAA tournament while Minnesota finished tied for 17th.  

UNC's Ethan Ramos celebrates after winning in the 174-pound bout during the team's match against Pittsburgh on Jan. 26 in Carmichael Arena.

The most significant win for the Tar Heels, however, was a 28-14 win over Duke (which finished 22nd in the NCAA Tournament) in their final home dual of the season. This win sealed Scott’s first winning record in conference play as the head coach of UNC, as well as gave the Tar Heels momentum as they approached the end of the regular season.