The UNC wrestling team defeated Harvard, 22-12, and crushed Brown, 36-4, giving the Tar Heels two victories on Saturday.
The first match of the day came between Harvard’s Dante Frinzi and UNC’s Jace Palmer. Frinzi took an early lead, but Palmer retaliated by ending the first period 3-2. Palmer’s lead only grew from there, as he went on to win the matchup, 10-4.
No. 18 Zach Sherman of the Tar Heels followed this with his battle against the Crimson’s Jack Crook. The meeting of both wrestlers looked to be even early on, but Crook began to show better defense, leading to more points from takedowns. The score was tied 5-5 going into the final period, but Crook pulled away with two more points to end the period and defeated Sherman, 7-5.
UNC redshirt senior Joey Mazzara contended with Harvard junior Joshua Kim in the 165-pound match. It was the first scoreless match of the day, but Kim swiftly changed that, earning an escape point to begin the second period. Another two points came from a strong takedown and suddenly Kim was up 5-1 with less than a minute to go. Mazzara fought his way back, tying the score by the buzzer, but the judges awarded Kim with an extra point for more riding time, giving him the victory.
In the matchup against Brown, the Bears’ Ian Oswalt wrestled UNC’s No. 17 Lachlan McNeil. Oswalt seemed to struggle against McNeil’s numerous takedowns. Even though Oswalt scored the most points for Brown in a period up to this point, it was not enough, as UNC took an early 8-3 lead. McNeil’s control of the match earned another victory for the Tar Heels, pushing their lead to 11-0.
Once again, Sherman of UNC faced off against Ricky Cabanillas of the Bears, looking to bounce back from the previous loss earlier in the day. Cabanillas eventually scored first with an escape point after a slow start. Two points from takedowns were then speedily scored by Sherman. Cabanillas fought back, earning another takedown point with 30 seconds left in the final period, but there was just not enough time left. Sherman dodged the last of Cabanillas’ attempts as the time expired, winning the match 3-2.
UNC’s No. 4 Austin O’Connor took on Brown’s Sam McMonagle, taking an early 4-0 lead in the first period. O’Connor dominated the match, earning a pinfall and promptly ending the match at the beginning of the second period. His victory extended the Tar Heels’ lead to 20-0.
The next contest was between Brown’s Drew Clearie and UNC’s Gino Esposito. Clearie started the match off strong by earning a takedown point and ending the period leading 4-1. Although Esposito began to fight back, earning a point to begin the second period, Clearie retaliated with a major takedown and near-fall points. Esposito had no answer for Clearie’s strength and takedowns, giving the Tar Heels their first loss of this matchup.
In the 184-pound bout, UNC’s No. 15 Gavin Kane took on first-year Nicholas Olivieri. Kane maintained control of the match from the beginning, leading 22-7. A technical fall was then issued to Kane, who won the match and increased UNC’s lead to 29-4.
Who stood out?
O’Connor, McNeil and Kane all had decisive victories. Palmer also stood out with his great defense during his fast-paced matches.
When was it decided?
North Carolina gained an early lead in its first dual against Harvard with wins from Palmer and McNeil. After O’Connor’s pinfall victory in the Brown dual, UNC proved that Brown did not have enough physicality to match up against the Tar Heels and went on to claim a decisive 36-4 victory to complete the sweep.
Why does it matter?
This victory gave UNC its second consecutive win as they began to turn around a disappointing start to the season and prepare for the ACC Championships.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels travel to Duke on Jan. 20 in their first ACC showdown of the season.
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