After an uneventful three periods, the 141-pound bout was sent to sudden death overtime. Redshirt junior A.C. Headlee got an important three points for the Tar Heels with a match-winning takedown to win by a 4-2 decision.
With all of the momentum going UNC’s way, its highest-ranked wrestler took the mat in the 149-pound bout. No. 4 Austin O’Connor may have been looking for extra points against an unranked Virginia Tech wrestler, but had to rely on a late unnecessary roughness call to win the match, 2-1, and make the team score 9-3 in favor of the Tar Heels.
In another close dual, redshirt sophomore Josh McClure defeated Virginia Tech’s B.C. Laprade with a takedown in overtime. McClure’s 3-1 victory gave the Tar Heels a 12-3 lead before facing five-straight ranked Hokies to end the meet.
Virginia Tech’s gauntlet started off with No. 8 Mekhi Lewis in the 165-pound bout. Lewis dominated throughout the match, winning, 14-4, and earning a major decision. This gave the Hokies four points which brought the team score to 12-7.
Redshirt sophomore Devin Kane earned a crucial result for the Tar Heels in the 174-pound bout against the Hokies’ No. 7 David McFadden. He lost the bout, 9-4, but prevented a major decision for McFadden with a late takedown in the third period.
Next up was the marquee bout of the night. No. 14 redshirt senior Chip Ness suffered a loss against Virginia Tech’s No. 4 Zack Zavatsky in the 184-pound match. Zavatsky dominated the first period and took an 8-1 lead after gaining two takedowns and a near fall. He continued to dominate to bout and earned a 12-4 major decision.
That decision gave the Hokies a 14-12 lead with just two bouts remaining.
First-year Brandon Whitman earned his first dual victory as a Tar Heel in exciting fashion. The highly touted recruit earned three takedowns and a point for riding time in an upset victory over No. 7 Tom Sleigh in the 197-pound bout. Whitman’s first win set up a winner take all scenario in the final match of the night.
Redshirt senior Cory Daniel had a chance to clinch an upset victory for the Tar Heels for the second straight match in the 285-pound bout. After an uneventful first two periods, Virginia Tech’s No. 18 Billy Miller held a 1-0 lead. Daniel earned a quick escape in the third the tie the match and got a takedown to take a 3-1 lead. Daniel completed his upset victory by holding off Miller the rest of the final period and earning a 3-2 decision.
That upset win made the final team score 18-14.
Who stood out?
Whitman, Harding and Daniel earned the Tar Heels’ most valuable wins of the meet. Virginia Tech’s lineup looked daunting on paper, as it had six ranked wrestlers compared to UNC’s two. The three upset victories over a ranked wrestlers were important for the Tar Heels’ team score.
UNC neutralized the Hokies’ advantage of having a stacked back-end of the lineup with two upset wins in the final two matches of the meet.
When was it decided?
Daniel entered his bout in a winner-take-all scenario for the second straight meet. He got in done in an upset win last week over now No. 14 Demetrius Thomas of Pittsburgh and did it again this week.
Why does it matter?
North Carolina has now won four in a row and two straight against opponents ranked higher than them. They will look to ride that momentum into their biggest dual meet of the season next week.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels host rival No. 8 N.C. State next Friday in Carmichael Arena.
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