In the 165 and 174-pound weight classes, the Bullard brothers for N.C. State picked up where Hidlay left off, beating UNC’s Sawyer Davidson and Devin Kane by a combined score of 19-2. That included a shutout in the 174-pound bout by Daniel Bullard, giving the Wolfpack an 11-3 lead after four bouts.
Looking for an injection of momentum, the Tar Heels turned to their first senior wrestler on Senior Night, No. 14 Chip Ness, who faced a tall task in No. 5 Nick Reenan. A late takedown by Ness made the score 5-4 in Reenan's favor, but Reenan escaped and held on for the 6-4 regular decision, giving the Wolfpack a 14-3 lead headed into the intermission.
After first-year Brandon Whitman dropped the fifth straight bout for UNC, the steady presence of redshirt senior Cory Daniel righted the ship for the Tar Heels. Looking calm and collected, Daniel dispatched N.C. State’s Colin Lawler, 10-4, getting North Carolina back on the board and making the score 17-6.
After Joe Heilmann lost his bout at the 125-pound weight class, redshirt senior Gary Wayne Harding gave the Tar Heels a spark with a technical fall on Zurich Storm, earning five points for UNC. But it was too little, too late as the Wolfpack rode their early victories to a 20-14 win.
Who stood out?
Despite the rough night for UNC, Austin O’Connor was a bright spot. The fourth-ranked wrestler in his weight class took on a fellow top-10 wrestler in Justin Oliver. He especially exploded in the third period, going on a 7-2 run after being tied after two periods.
Redshirt senior Gary Wayne Harding also secured the most lopsided decision of the match. He started scoring early and often, including two near falls in the first period against Storm. A quick takedown in the third period, followed directly by a near fall put Harding up 18-1, forcing a five-point tech fall in his Senior Night bout.
When was it decided?
UNC was largely dominated by the N.C. State wrestlers Saturday, but was still alive until Heilmann fell to No. 11 Sean Fausz. While he battled hard, he could not record any takedowns of his own, falling, 7-2, and giving the Wolfpack an insurmountable 20-6 lead with two bouts remaining.
Why does it matter?
This match was a chance for UNC to record yet another upset over a top-15 squad, as well as a chance to send the seniors out on a high note. The Tar Heels will look to build on this loss as they approach the postseason.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels are back on the mat Saturday night as they take on the Cornell Big Red in Carmichael Arena at 6:00 p.m.
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