Two North Carolina wrestlers earned All-America honors for their performances this weekend at the NCAA Championships in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Redshirt first-year Austin O’Connor and redshirt senior Chip Ness finished third and sixth, respectively. Both wrestlers earned unexpected victories to become All-Americans.
O’Connor was seeded sixth at 149-pounds and went 5-1 in Pittsburgh to earn his third place finish.
The redshirt first-year earned two comfortable victories over No. 27 Tejon Anthony of George Mason and No. 11 Josh Heil of Campbell to advance to the quarterfinals. He defeated Anthony by a 3-1 decision and eased by Heil with a 4-1 decision.
Those victories set up a high-stakes fifth meeting between O’Connor and Duke’s No. 3 Mitch Finesviler. Both wrestlers were consistently ranked at the top of their weight class all season, but Finesilver got the best of the series, going 3-1 against O’Connor coming into the NCAA Championships.
When the two met in the quarterfinals, O’Connor picked up an exciting victory. Regulation was not enough to decide the bout, so it was sent to overtime. O’Connor earned a takedown in overtime to earn the sudden victory over Finesilver.
O’Connor’s upset win guaranteed him All-America status.
The redshirt first-year phenom moved onto the semifinals where he faced a tough test in No. 2 Micah Jordan of Ohio State. Jordan showed his class in a 10-3 decision over O’Connor.