The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday December 7th

UNC wrestling falls to No. 4 Ohio State for second consecutive top-five loss

Sophomore Gavin Kane wrestles Ohio State opponent at Carmichael Arena on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. UNC lost to Ohio State 9-33.
Buy Photos Sophomore Gavin Kane wrestles Ohio State opponent at Carmichael Arena on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. UNC lost to Ohio State 9-33.

The No. 17 UNC wrestling team dropped its second consecutive match against a top-five opponent on Sunday, falling 33-9 to No. 4 Ohio State.

What happened?

The match began with the 165-pound bout between Nicholas Fea of UNC and Carson Kharchla of Ohio State. Fea took a two-point lead early in the contest with a takedown and added another four points with a near fall. Kharchla dominated the second period, and the No. 6 wrestler in the weight class won by decision, 12-8.

In the highest-ranked dual of the match, UNC’s No. 5 Clay Lautt battled Ohio State’s No. 6 Ethan Smith in the 174-pound weight class. It was a gritty match, with neither wrestler scoring a point in the first two periods. Smith earned an escape point early in the third and rode that to a 2-0 decision. 

The 184-pound match pitted No. 13 Gavin Kane of UNC against No. 4 Kaleb Romero. Ohio State continued its dominance with Romero earning a 6-4 decision win and extending the Buckeye lead to 9-0.

Ohio State did not relent. A 7-3 decision win for No. 15 Gavin Hoffman over Max Shaw in the 197 weight class gave the Buckeyes a 12-0 start to the contest.

Heavyweight No. 7 Tate Orndorff put a stamp on the match with a victory by fall in the second period. The six points extended Ohio State’s lead to 18-0 as the teams left the mat for the break.

Coming out of the break, the 125-pound dual saw Jack Wagner of North Carolina battle No. 11 Malik Heinselman. Wagner got up early in the second period with a one-point escape, but a last-minute takedown delivered Hainselman the victory. After six matches, the Tar Heels were losing 21-0.

Another fall victory for Ohio State came in the 133-pound bout, as No. 13 Jesse Mendez dominated the entire dual and handed the Buckeyes another six points.

No. 25 Lachlan McNeil finally got the Tar Heels on the board in the 141-pound division. Tied with No. 7 Dylan D’Emilio throughout the entire third period, the crowd erupted as McNeil earned a two-point takedown with ten seconds remaining. The 9-7 decision win put the Tar Heels on the board with three points.

Ohio State added another fall win in the 149-pound division, and the last dual of the match was won by UNC’s Sincere Bailey by forfeit. 

Who stood out? 

McNeil’s victory prevented the shutout in the eighth dual of the match. His hard-fought win was the lone bright spot in an otherwise lackluster performance from UNC. 

When was it decided?

Lautt’s defeat in the second match put the Tar Heels down six, a deficit they were unable to climb out of. Lautt is UNC’s top-ranked wrestler and largely depended on for his three points. His defeat was the second of two hard-fought losses to begin the match, and Ohio State dominated the rest of the way.

Why does it matter?

The defeat is another disappointing mark on UNC’s early season record. After earning a victory against Campbell to begin the season, the Tar Heels have now been dominated in two matches against premiere wrestling programs. 

How the Tar Heels respond to this disappointment will determine the success of their season. They are still ranked in the top 25 and are expected to contend for an ACC title. Playing these types of opponents early in the season should prepare them for later bouts against Virginia Tech and NC State.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels will take a month's break and return to Carmichael on Dec. 15 to battle the Mountaineers of Appalachian State.

@brendan_lunga18

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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