The North Carolina wrestling team (6-9, 2-3 ACC) fell to No. 8 N.C. State (14-1, 4-1 ACC), 28-6, on Friday night in Carmichael Arena.
The opening bout of the rivalry contest featured a pair of top-10 wrestlers in the 141-pound division. N.C. State's Ryan Jack — the No. 6 wrestler in his weight class — used a trio of takedowns in the first period to cruise to an individual victory and earn N.C. State three points.
With graduate Zach Sherman sidelined with an injury, redshirt first-year Wil Guida slotted in at the 149-pound division for the Tar Heels. Despite Guida opening up a one-point lead in the third period, the N.C. State's Jackson Arrington’s takedown and two-point near fall helped the Wolfpack stretch their lead to 6-0.
No. 2 Austin O’Connor stepped onto the mat next for the Tar Heels in the 157-pound bout. The individual NCAA champion continued his perfect season, winning by decision to get UNC on the board.
North Carolina’s winning ways were brief, however, as N.C. State would prevail in the next two bouts. Through five individual duals, the Wolfpack had opened up a 12-3 advantage.
First-year Caron Tenold faced off against No. 3 Trent Hidlay in the next contest. The Wolfpack’s highest-ranked wrestler validated his vaunted standing and cruised to a tech fall win, earning N.C. State five points.
North Carolina would drop the ensuing contest by decision, digging UNC in a 17-point hole by the heavyweight bout. Senior Brandon Whitman opened up the first period in attack mode and secured an early takedown for the Tar Heels. But Whiteman’s push was short lived as No. 11 Owen Trephan prevailed via major decision behind a four-point near fall.
Graduate Jack Wagner would spring ahead in the first period of the 125-pound clash behind a pair of early takedowns. The transfer for Northern Iowa would continue his strong outing in the following periods and earn UNC its second decision victory.
In the final bout of the rivalry clash, No. 18 Kai Orine twisted his way to an early cushion for N.C. State. The redshirt sophomore continued to have his way against Jace Palmer over the next two periods and closed out the Wolfpack’s 28-6 victory with a major decision win.
Who stood out?
O’Connor continued his unbeaten graduate campaign with another impressive win — this time over No. 7 Ed Scott. Since returning from injury in December, the graduate from Lockport, Ill. has been on a mission to earn his second individual title and currently ranks second in the nation in the 157-pound class.
For the Wolfpack, Hidlay dominated from the start of his bout. The redshirt junior used an array of takedown maneuvers to dominate the 184-pound match, 24-9.
When was it decided?
The Wolfpack sprang ahead early, securing the night’s first two bouts via decision. But O’Connor’s physical victory helped claw UNC within three points.
However, any sense of momentum for the Tar Heels was quickly lost over the following contests. N.C. State would prevail in five straight bouts — including a tech fall win in the 184-pound division — to help the Wolfpack cruise to a win.
Why does it matter?
The defeat marks the ninth dual loss of the season for the Tar Heels, and North Carolina wraps up conference play with a losing record. The defeat reemphasizes N.C. State’s domination in the last decade, as the Wolfpack have now won 10 consecutive duals over UNC.
When do they play next?
This marks the end of North Carolina’s regular season dual schedule. Tar Heel wrestlers will now prepare for the ACC and NCAA championships in March.
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