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No. 8 North Carolina wrestling drops high stakes dual, 19-14, against No. 3 N.C. State

Kennedy Monday steps onto the mat to begin the 165 lb weight class match during the home wrestling match vs. Nebraska on Saturday, Dec. 15 2018.

The No. 8 North Carolina (11-2, 2-1 ACC) wrestling team faced No. 3 N.C. State (13-0, 3-0 ACC) on Friday night in the first dual meet where both programs were ranked in the top 10. N.C. State triumphed by a narrow 19-14 margin that came down to the heavyweight bout.

What happened?

In what was one of the biggest dual meets of UNC head coach Coleman Scott's tenure in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels started out slow with a loss in the 125 pound match between UNC's Joey Melendez and the Wolfpack's Jakob Camacho. The score remained close throughout the first two rounds, but Camacho's two dominant takedowns in the third round secured the victory for him.

The Tar Heels came back fast with a low-scoring match between Jaime Hernandez and Jarrett Trombley. Hernandez finished the bout with a full-period ride in the third round, sealing the close victory for UNC.

In the most anticipated matchup of the meet, UNC's Zach Sherman faced Tariq Wilson from N.C. State. Sherman and Wilson sit right next to each other in the rankings at 141 pounds, coming in at No. 10 and No. 11, respectively. Wilson achieved the upset with a dominant 6-0 score in the bout. 

UNC answered Wilson's win with a victory of its own from Austin O'Connor, who narrowly defeated Matt Grippi at 149 pounds.

However, N.C. State refused to give the Tar Heels any momentum in the next bout after Hayden Hidlay won a 9-2 decision over North Carolina's A.C. Headlee at 157 pounds.

North Carolina again answered with an impressive win from Kennedy Monday against N.C. State's Tyler Barnes. Kennedy racked up a couple of bonus points from a tech fall, putting UNC up 11-9.

Following the back and forth trend of the night, N.C. State's Daniel Bullard picked up an 8-4 victory in the 174 pound weight class against North Carolina's Clay Lautt. The Wolfpack carried their momentum into the next round after No. 3 Trent Hidlay scored a major decision over Joey Mazzara.

UNC needed a win from Brandon Whitman in the 197 pound weight class for any shot at a victory, and he delivered with a 7-0 decision against Nick Reenan, cutting N.C. State's lead to 16-14. 

In the heavyweight bout, N.C. State secured its victory once Deonte Wilson achieved a 5-2 decision over North Carolina's Andrew Gunning with two clutch takedowns, including an aerobatic takedown that was granted to Wilson after an official review.

Who stood out?

Monday once again put on a strong performance for the Tar Heels in his bout against Barnes. Monday capitalized on his opponent by racking up four takedowns and a four-point near fall in the first round. 

No. 3 O'Connor also played a key role in the Tar Heels' success, overcoming debilitating leg cramps to come back for a narrow victory over Grippi.

When was it decided?

Whitman was crucial in giving the Tar Heels hope with his upset of No. 20 Reenan with a series of crucial takedowns, making the heavyweight match the deciding bout. However, the Wolfpack overcame North Carolina's final push, ending the dual meet with a sound win in a heavyweight bout that sealed N.C. State's victory.

Why does it matter?

The defeat against N.C. State gave UNC just its second loss of the season. The Tar Heels will look to turn it around and gain some momentum heading into the final four dual meets of the season.

When do they play next?

North Carolina will return to the mats on Friday against the No. 10 Pittsburgh Panthers for another competitive dual meet in ACC competition.


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