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Cory Daniel defeats brother to give No. 21 UNC wrestling win over No. 8 Arizona State

Cory Daniel wrestling

UNC redshirt senior Cory Daniel placed second in the heavyweight class at the ACC Championship last season on March 3 at Carmichael Arena.


Coming off a 23-10 win over Chattanooga that opened the season for the No. 21 North Carolina wrestling team, the Tar Heels faced No. 8 Arizona State on Saturday. 

A late win from redshirt senior Cory Daniel against his younger brother Brady Daniel seized the 20-15 upset of the Sun Devils on Saturday afternoon.

What happened?

First-year Joe Heilmann took the floor first for North Carolina in the dual meet in the 125-pound bout against Arizona State’s No. 9 Ryan Millhof. 

After a scoreless first period, Millhof attacked with a takedown that gave him a 2-0 lead, and eventually won the bout, 3-0. 

ASU took a 6-0 lead after Josiah Kline defeated redshirt junior James Szymanski in the 133-pound bout, picking up a 5-2 win with an escape and two takedowns. 

The first UNC victory was picked up by redshirt first-year Jaime Hernandez, starting the momentum for the Tar Heels with a major decision win of 12-4 against Cory Crooks in the 141-pound matchup. 

The decisive win would mark his first dual victory as a Tar Heel. 

“It made it a lot more exciting, it being my first match,” said the redshirt first-year. “I had a lot to prove, and I felt like I did.” 

After last weekend’s impressive 14-4 major decision for No. 16 Austin O’Connor, the redshirt first-year took on No. 11 Josh Marcua in the 149-pound-bout and left with a narrow 3-2 victory to push the Tar Heels to a 7-6 lead. 

No. 6 Kennedy Monday, a redshirt sophomore, continued the streak for UNC with a 11-7 decision that brought the teams into the intermission and secured a 10-6 lead for North Carolina. 

Redshirt sophomore Josh McClure was unable to contain No. 8 Josh Shields, who gained a 14-8 victory to shrink the UNC lead to 10-9.

The Tar Heels won two of the final four bouts, including a 12-3 victory by No. 13 Daniel over his younger brother to seal the 20-15 upset.

Who Stood Out?

After consecutive UNC losses in the first two matchups, Hernandez turned it around with his major decision 12-4 victory. Three more Tar Heels continued the winning ways that brought the team to a 16-9 team score lead.

“Jaime Hernandez definitely came," said North Carolina head coach Coleman Scott. "We needed every bit of him. Watching him go get a major, and look great doing it, that stands out.”

In a prevailing win for redshirt sophomore Devin Kane against Arizona State’s Jacen Petersen, which included a pin, he led the team to a 16-9 lead before No. 8 redshirt senior Chip Ness fell to ASU’s Zahid Valencia in the 184-pound matchup.

Ranked as one of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers in the country, Valencia ended the Tar Heel run with a hard-fought 9-6 victory. 

When was it decided?

Valencia’s victory would lead the way for another Arizona State win in the 197-pound bout. Redshirt first-year Chasen Blair fell to ASU’s Kordell Norfleet, 9-4, to bring North Carolina into the final match of the day with a narrow 16-15 lead. 

The meet was decided in a dramatic match between two brothers. 

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North Carolina’s Daniel wrestled his younger brother, ASU’s Daniel, in the match that would decide Saturday’s winner. 

After three takedowns, the opponents entered the third period with Cory Daniel leading Brady, 6-1, and sent Arizona State away winless with a 12-3 major decision as Cory Daniel defeated his brother. 

North Carolina walked away with a 20-15 team victory. 

“It kind of sucked having to wrestle my brother, but I knew I had to get the win for my team,” said Cory Daniel. 

Cory Daniel wasn’t in familiar territory wrestling his sibling in this setting. 

“My brother and I, we've already messed around in our basement, wrestling around, but this is the first time we’ve actually wrestled in a match,” he said. 

“I told him, I said ‘hey, for these seven minutes it’s not your brother,'” said Scott of his exchange with Cory before the match. “‘Give him a hug afterwards, but not for this seven minutes.’”

Why does it matter?

Just the second dual meet of the season, the UNC team should have confidence in its ability from returners like Monday and Ness, as well as Hernandez, an explosive newcomer.

“We as a staff expected this. We believed this,” Scott said. “For the guys, the team, it’s showing what we’re doings paying off. It’s just the start for us.”

When do they play next?

UNC wrestling travels to Appalachian State for another dual meet next Sunday at 2 p.m.  

@jillianDTH

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com