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UNC's wrestling team suffers its first loss of the season against Ohio State

Redshirt-senior Austin O'Connor wrestles Queens graduate student Jacob Balmas at the wrestling match against Queens University. UNC won 48-0.

The No. 12 North Carolina wrestling team (2-1) lost to the No. 10 Ohio State Buckeyes (1-0) 12-23 on Sunday at the Covelli Center in Ohio.

What happened?

The first match of the competition started out with the 165 weight class. Redshirt first-year Sonny Santiago faced off against Ohio State’s No. 10 Carson Kharchla. Santiago lost quickly as he was defeated 10-2 by the Buckeye sophomore.

The next weight class that faced off was at 174. The Tar Heel redshirt first-year No. 22 Gavin Kane, was defeated by Ohio State’s No. 6 Ethan Smith 16-10. These two matches were not the ways that the Tar Heels wanted to begin their game against a top ten team.

UNC graduate student No. 17 Clay Lautt, who weighs 174 pounds, fell to No. 17 Rock Jordan, 4-1. The following match, Mark Chaid struggled against Gavin Hoffman as he lost 14-3 in the major decision. In the heavy weight match, 285-pound senior Brandon Whitman, ranked at 33, battled closely against Tate Orndorff, but fell to the successful Buckeye heavy weight with a score of 2-0.

In the 125-weight division, first-year Spencer Moore was defeated 6-2 by OSU’s No. 15 Malik Heinselman. 

UNC had their success towards the end of the day. The Tar Heels first individual victory as the 133-weight class wrestled. The redshirt senior, No. 13 Jaime Hernandez beat Dylan Kootz 5-3 to finally put the Heels on the board. 

The biggest battle of the day was in the 141, when graduate student No. 14 Kizhan Clarke followed up Hernandez’s victory with a 3-1 victory of his own. The final match gave UNC more points with redshirt senior No. 2 Austin O’Connor pinning Jashon Hubbard at 3:44. O’Connor’s pin was the only pin of the day.

Who stood out?

Not a surprise for the Tar Heels, O’Connor has had two back-to-back pins in his last two matches. The defending National Champion earned his first pin against Queen’s University and against Ohio State University.

When was it decided?

The match was decided early on after five consecutive losses in a row that put the Buckeyes up 17-0. This lead so late in the wrestling match was too hard of a comeback for UNC to come back and win against Ohio State.

Why does this matter?

This will be the most intense and competitive matchup the Tar Heels will have all season. UNC is not scheduled to play another top ten team during the regular season; therefore, this was its chance to move up in the rankings and prove themselves. This loss, however, will cause North Carolina to fall further down in the rankings.

This matchup was highly anticipated due to the amount of ranked wrestlers between the two programs. The Tar Heels and the Buckeyes have a combined 16 ranked wrestlers.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels have ten days to regain focus and momentum before they travel to Lincoln, Nebraska to face the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers on Wednesday at 9 p.m.

@dthsports |  

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