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Friday February 3rd

UNC wrestling earns third straight win with 37-6 triumph over Duke

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.

Behind a plethora of dominating dual wins, the North Carolina wrestling team (5-6, 1-0 ACC) cruised past the Duke Blue Devils (3-6, 0-1 ACC), 37-6, on Friday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. 

What happened?

The Tar Heels jumped out to an early six-point lead after Duke forfeited the opening bout. In the 133-pound dual, the Blue Devils sprung out in front behind a pair of takedowns. But first-year Jace Palmer would respond in the final period with a last-second takedown to secure the individual victory. 

No. 13 Lachlan McNeil would secure a game-changing win for UNC in the following contest. The redshirt first-year capped off a stellar opening period with a four-point near fall. McNeil would go on to coast to a technical fall win in the second period, increasing North Carolina’s lead to 14-0. 

Shortly after, redshirt seniors Zach Sherman and Austin O’Connor would continue the Tar Heels’ dominance. Sherman earned a major decision victory and O’Connor won by pin in the first period to stretch North Carolina’s advantage to 24 points.

In the 165-pound division, redshirt senior Joey Mazzara and Gabe Dinette went pound-for-pound in the initial period, with Mazzara earning the lone scoring play by way of takedown. But the following period followed a different story, as the UNC redshirt senior would open up a six-point lead before eventually prevailing by major decision. 

No. 9 Clay Lautt would secure North Carolina’s second technical fall of the night in the following matchup. The redshirt senior attacked Gaetano Console from the jump, springing to a seven-point advantage in the first period. The Olathe, Kan. native would ramp up the pressure in the following minute of play and secure the 18-3 victory.

Another ranked Tar Heel — No. 14 Gavin Kane — would continue UNC’s impressive outing. The sophomore in the 184-pound class would win by major decision, giving North Carolina a 37-0 lead.

The Blue Devils would go on to prevail in the final two bouts, with No. 22 Jonah Nisenbaum capping off the heavyweight division with a two-point decision win. However, UNC’s early-dual victories were more than enough to push the Tar Heels to the win, 37-6.

Who stood out? 

O’Connor continued his undefeated redshirt senior campaign with the highlight win of the evening. The former individual NCAA champion dropped Preston Decker by pin in the opening period to earn North Carolina six points.

McNeil also shined for the Tar Heels. The redshirt first-year’s technical fall featured an array of takedowns and a four-point near fall, to help North Carolina build an early cushion.

When was it decided?

From the first bout of the night, the Tar Heels held their ground. 

After winning by forfeit in the 125-pound division, North Carolina would prevail in seven straight contests. Despite a late push from the Blue Devils — that saw Duke take home the final two bouts of the night — UNC would prevail in the rivalry tilt. 

Why does it matter?

The victory extends the Tar Heels’ current win streak to three games. With ACC play ramping up in the coming weeks — with bouts against currently-ranked N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh — starting off conference play in the win column is a step in the right direction for North Carolina.

When do they play next?

UNC returns home to Carmichael Arena to host the Virginia Cavaliers on Friday. The conference bout is set to start at 7 p.m.

@evanr0gers

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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