In its last meet of conference play, No. 22 UNC wrestling (8-6, 3-2 ACC) fell 25-12 to No. 4 N.C. State (12-1, 5-0 ACC) at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, N.C. on Friday night.
In the 125-pound matchup, Jakob Camacho got things started for the Wolfpack, earning a win by decision over UNC’s Spencer Moore, and tallying three points for his team.
In the 133-pound matchup that followed, North Carolina’s No. 21 Joe Heilmann took on No. 14 Kai Orine of N.C. State. Heilmann came out on top after riding Orine for an entire period to eventually win by a 4-2 decision. This brought the meet to a 3-3 tie after two bouts.
In the battle between UNC’s Kizhan Clarke and N.C. State’s Ryan Jack, Clarke got an early takedown to jump out to a two-point lead. Despite multiple stalling calls, Clarke ultimately won by decision with the help of his accumulative riding time.
Despite Clarke’s win propelling UNC to a slight 6-3 lead, No. 3 Tariq Wilson closed out his respective bout against UNC’s No. 17 Zach Sherman with a 6-2 win by decision. This tied the meet back up, 6-6, through four matches.
In the 157-pound bout, Mason Phillips stepped in for Austin O’Connor, who was sitting out due to injury. Against No. 11 Ed Scott, Phillips failed to answer after Scott built an early 2-0 lead. Scott was completely dominant in this bout, earning takedown after takedown in the second period, to eventually take the 21-6 win by technical fall.
In the very next matchup, UNC’s Isaias Estrada fell to N.C. State’s Thomas Bullard in a 10-2 major decision, marking back-to-back bonus-point victories for the Wolfpack. At this point, N.C. State was 15-6 through six matches.
Despite No. 9 Clay Lautt’s impressive win by fall over No. 3 Hayden Hidlay in 174-pound bout, the Tar Heels failed to come up with some much-needed wins down the stretch. In the next three bouts, UNC’s Gavin Kane, Max Shaw and Brandon Whitman each posted losses to their respective Wolfpack opponents, and UNC dropped this meet 25-12.
Who stood out?
Despite an overall loss, several Tar Heels had impressive performances against the highly-ranked competition. The most notable of these was undoubtedly Clay Lautt’s battle with Hayden Hidlay. The first points of that bout came from Hidlay, who moved Lautt across the center before taking him down on a stumble. However, the second period saw Clay Lautt pin Hidlay to the mat after a tense struggle. Lautt won the bout by fall, ending Hidlay’s career undefeated streak in ACC play.
When was it decided?
Reynolds Coliseum, and the 5,000 fans that filled it, erupted as first-year Ed Scott’s relentless attack of Phillips resulted in a 21-6 win by technical fall. After the 165-pound matchup between Estrada and Bullard, N.C. State had notched back-to-back bonus-point victories. From that point on, facing a slate of highly-ranked wrestling competition and the stingy atmosphere of the away crowd’s jeers, UNC failed for the most part to produce down the roster. Despite a gritty win by Lautt, the Wolfpack had largely taken over the meet’s momentum and had built a substantial lead that they were able to hold onto.
Why does it matter?
Friday marks North Carolina’s last meet before the ACC Championships at the beginning of March. Last week, the Tar Heels fell to No. 7 Virginia Tech on the road in Blacksburgh, and on Friday they were looking to bounce back against another highly-ranked ACC program. Now, the Tar Heels need to find a way to regroup after a slew of injuries and back-to-back losses.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will travel to Ames, Iowa to compete in Iowa State’s Last Chance Open this Sunday before going to Charlottesville, Va. to compete in the ACC Championships on Sun., March 6.
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