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Saturday May 28th

No. 14 UNC wrestling downs Queens 48-0, goes 2-0 in opening day

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

After winning its first match Monday afternoon, the No. 14 North Carolina wrestling team (2-0) dominated Queens University (0-1), 48-0 in the team's second dual Monday night.

What happened?

UNC’s dominant performance was kickstarted early by first-year Spencer Moore with his major decision victory in the 125-pound match. Moore, a two-time state champion in high school, didn’t let his inexperience hinder him, beating Queen’s graduate student Melvin Rubio 12-3. This gave Moore his second win of his young collegiate career and opening up the team scoring at 4-0.

Redshirt-junior Joe Heilmann at 133 pounds began his season with an impressive and quick personal victory. Heilmann won by fall, 39 seconds into his match, awarding the Tar Heels six points and extending their lead to 10-0 over the Royals. 

The 141 and 149-pound matches reflected the same sense of domination from Tar Heels at the beginning of the dual. Graduate transfer Kizhan Clarke and redshirt-senior Zach Sherman earned technical fall wins with their 17 and 16 point wins, respectively. 

Coming into this season, redshirt-senior Austin O’Connor had posted a dominant career in the 149-pound division, having only ten losses in his career. However, O'Connor moved up weight classes during the offseason to 157 pounds and his match against Queens graduate student Jacob Balmas marked only the second 157 match in O’Connor’s career. O’Connor made short work of Balmas, winning by fall less than 90 seconds into the match resulting in six more points for the Tar Heels.

After a major decision win at 165 pounds by redshirt junior Joey Mazzara, UNC earned its third win by fall of the dual by way of graduate student Clay Lautt. Lautt’s victory increased UNC’s lead to 36-0. 

The dual’s closest matches came during the 184 and 197 pound-matches. Redshirt-junior Mark Chaid and redshirt-senior Hunter Queen both won by decision, with Queen’s victory being the closest of the dual at 7-5. 

UNC closed out the match strong when senior Brandon Whitman won by fall 19 seconds into his 285-pound match, solidifying the Tar Heels win, 48-0.

Who stood out? 

Alex O’Connor and Joe Heilmann posted impressive individual wins. Both wrestlers won by fall within the first period of their respective matches, awarding the Tar Heels six team points for both matches. 

Kizhan Clarke also looked sharp in his second match for UNC. Clarke, a transfer from American University, won by technical fall, 20-3. Brandon Whitman closed the victory out with his victory by fall and giving the Tar Heels the 48-0 win.

When was it decided?

O’Connor’s win by fall seemed to be the knockout punch for any hope the Royals had as it increased the Tar Heel lead to 26-0. Shortly after, Lautt followed in O’Connor’s steps by also winning by fall.

The dual was officially won when the Tar Heels recorded their fourth victory by fall when Whitman won 19 seconds into his match. Whitman’s victory gave the Tar Heels a 48-0, shutout victory. 

Why does it matter?

The Tar Heels posted yet another dominant victory on their opening, double-duals day. The strong start should give the Tar Heels a boost of momentum going into their marquee matchup against Ohio State.

Individually, O’Connor looked strong to begin his inaugural season wrestling at 157 pounds, where he hopes to win his second individual NCAA title. Sherman also posted an impressive match, winning by technical fall, a victory that should give him confidence heading into his weekend match against Sammy Sasso of Ohio State, the top-ranked wrestler at 149 pounds.

When do they play next?

UNC’s next dual will be Sunday, Nov. 7 when the Tar Heels travel to No. 8 Ohio State. The dual will start at 1 p.m.

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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