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Monday December 6th

No. 14 UNC wrestling defeats Campbell to snap two-meet skid

Austin O'Connor, defending national champion, is caught in the moment as he wins his match against a Campbell opponent. The Tar Heels beat Campbell 24-12 in Carmichael Arena on Nov. 21.
Buy Photos Austin O'Connor, defending national champion, is caught in the moment as he wins his match against a Campbell opponent. The Tar Heels beat Campbell 24-12 in Carmichael Arena on Nov. 21.

The No. 14 North Carolina men's wrestling team (3-2) defeated the Campbell Fighting Camels (3-2), 24-6, on Sunday night in Carmichael Arena. 

What happened?

The dual opened up with a tough match for the Tar Heels as first-year Spencer Moore faced Campbell’s Anthony Molton. Molton came into the match ranked No. 29 in the 125-pound division, and he lived up to his ranking, defeating Moore by decision.

UNC bounced back during the 133 and 141-pound matches, both ending by decision rules in favor of the Tar Heels. Graduate transfer Kizhan Clarke showed resilience for the Tar Heels, earning two takedowns in the final period of his match to earn UNC its first lead of the day at 6-3. 

The most intriguing matchup of the night came at 149 pounds when UNC’s Zach Sherman squared off against Campbell’s John Heil. The two wrestlers came into the night ranked No. 6 and 16, respectively.

The match lived up to the hype, as the two were knotted up at one following three regular and overtime periods. In the fourth extra period, an infraction against Sherman gave the Heil the win and knotted the team scoring at six points apiece. 

At 157 pounds, Austin O’Connor was looking to bounce back from his first individual loss in two seasons. The fifth-ranked wrestler for his division attacked early and often, opening up a comfortable lead. His attack eventually led to the disqualification of Campbell’s Matthew Dallara, which doubled the Tar Heels’ point total. 

UNC’s lead was extended by six points during the 165 and 174 pounds matches. Graduate Clay Lautt’s upset win of 3-2 over No. 16 Austin Murphy began to turn the tide in favor of the Tar Heels.

The 184-pound competition featured another match-up between two ranked wrestlers. For the Tar Heels it was No. 22 Gavin Kane while No. 16 Caleb Hopkins entered the mat for the Fighting Camels. Kane’s two-point reversal in the final period proved to be the difference maker, giving UNC the victory by decision. 

Redshirt sophomore Max Shaw closed out the scoring for UNC with his decision victory extending the team lead to 24-6. In the heavyweight division, the Fighting Camels won by forfeit and concluded the dual with a Tar Heel victory with a score of 24-12.

Who stood out? 

O’Connor’s night was huge in many regards. On the mat, the redshirt senior bounced back after suffering his first individual loss in two seasons. 

Aside from his dominant performance, which ended in a disqualification penalty against Campbell, O’Connor was awarded his NCAA championship ring he earned from his individual title a year ago. 

Kane also impressed in his match. The redshirt freshman looked past the national rankings, winning in upset fashion as his last second reversal awarded him the victory and the Tar Heels three points. 

When was it decided?

After O’Connor's disqualification victory helped UNC regain the lead, the Tar Heels never looked back. Key upset victories by Lautt and Kane helped propel the lead to 21-6.

Despite UNC forfeiting the heavyweight match, the lead was too large for the Fighting Camels to overcome.

Why does it matter?

The Tar Heels were coming off back-to-back dual losses at the hands of Ohio State and Nebraska. With Sunday’s dual victory, UNC was able to get back in the win column as it prepares for a crucial stretch of their non-conference schedule that features two ranked teams.

The Tar Heels also saw impressive matches from both Kane and Lautt, two wrestlers who hope to build off the momentum earned from the individual victories. 

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will compete at “Garden State Grapple,” a double-dual event on Nov. 27. The Tar Heels will face No. 22 Wisconsin at 5:30 p.m. and No. 18 Rutgers at 7:30 p.m.  

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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