The North Carolina wrestling team claimed a trio of All-Americans at the 2023 NCAA Tournament, highlighted by redshirt senior Austin O’Connor securing his second national title.
Redshirt first-year Lachlan McNeil’s journey to All-American status began with an opening-round duel against No. 23 Cole Mattin. The 141-pound bout saw McNeil secure an early takedown en route to topping the Michigan redshirt junior, 6-2.
Thursday evening, McNeil would advance to the quarterfinals with a one-point upset win over No. 7 Vince Cornella. In UNC’s next contest, a pair of takedowns by No.2 Andrew Alirez helped the wrestler prevail, dropping McNeil to the consolation bracket.
Despite dropping the high-stakes duel, McNeil would bounce back and split his next two contests, capped off by the Toronto native falling in his weight class’ third-place bout. McNeil finished the week in fourth place and became a first-time All-American.
Gavin Kane’s route to becoming an All-American for the first time started off rocky. The 184-pound sophomore dropped his opening duel in an upset defeat to No. 22 Colton Hawks.
However, Kane would work his way through the consolation bracket over the next three days. UNC’s No.11-ranked wrestler would go on to win four consecutive matches to earn himself All-American status and place eighth in the 184-pound class.
O’Connor finished the regular season undefeated and earned an ACC title to help the graduate student secure the top-ranked seed in the 157-pound class. His path to a national title began with a decision victory over No. 32 Vinny Zerban on Thursday.
Later that same day, O’Connor hit the mat to duel against Missouri’s Jarrett Jacques. North Carolina’s prized wrestler would open up an early two-point advantage before securing his second decision win of the tournament, 4-1.