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UNC wrestling beats Morgan State, falls to App State

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UNC junior Gavin Kane takes down his opponent during a UNC wrestling match against Morgan State in Carmichael Arena on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. UNC won 36-0.

North Carolina wrestling split last weekend with a win and a loss. The Tar Heels pulled off a dominant 36-0 sweep of Morgan State at home on Saturday, Dec. 16 but fell to App State on the road by a score of 24-14 the following day. 

After keeping Morgan State from gaining a single point, North Carolina started Sunday afternoon going decision for decision with App State through the first four matches. After 149-pounder Jayden Scott tied the dual at 6-6, however, the Mountaineers pulled off a 15-point run that UNC could not answer.

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Bears first-year Aaron Turner (149) pushes against UNC redshirt first-year Jayden Scott (149) during a UNC wrestling match against Morgan State in Carmichael Arena on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. UNC won 36-0.

North Carolina kicked off its weekend by returning to Carmichael Arena on Saturday — for the first time in over a month — to face Morgan State, a program amidst a revival after enduring a 25-year hiatus.

Against the once-hibernated Bears, UNC may have landed a commanding shutout on paper, but the dual was not a blowout by any means, as six of the ten Tar Heel wrestlers won by regular decision. Through the first seven matches, Derek Guanajuato’s technical fall win at 141 pounds was the only UNC victory worth more than three points.

North Carolina went on to earn 14 points in the final three weight classes thanks to major decisions by Gavin Kane and Max Shaw, as well as a pin by heavyweight Cade Lautt. 

Kane and Shaw, ranked No. 19 and No. 16 in their respective weight classes nationally, both also earned major decisions again on Sunday against App State. They were joined by Scott as the only Tar Heels to go 2-0 over the weekend.

UNC was able to rely on its experience against Morgan State, which boasts a 27-man roster consisting of 20 first-years. However, against App State, the Mountaineers buried North Carolina into a deep hole midway through the dual.

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UNC redshirt junior Max Shaw gets a hold of his opponent during the match against Appalachian State at Varsity Gym on Dec. 17, 2023. UNC loses 14-24.

UNC’s main point-earners tend to come from the final few weight classes, but the Mountaineers had already surmounted a 21-6 lead by the time Kane stepped on the mat for the 184-pound match. For the Tar Heels to have won at that point, Kane, Shaw and Lautt had to dominate their matches and each record at least a technical fall — a tall task against a mostly evenly-muscled team. 

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UNC junior Gavin Kane gets a hold of his opponent's leg during the match against Appalachian State at Varsity Gym on Dec. 17, 2023. UNC loses 14-24.

After Kane and Shaw won by major decision and Lautt lost, North Carolina fell to App State for the third time in meeting history and the second time in the past two seasons. 

UNC wrestling moves to 6-3 in its first season under Rob Koll, who spent 28 years at Cornell and two years at Stanford before assuming the helm at his alma mater this past August. 

The Tar Heels will wrestle again next in the Soldier Salute against some of the nation’s top talent on Dec. 29 and 30 in Iowa City, Iowa.

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