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Spencer Moore leads UNC wrestling to 20-17 victory over Navy

UNC redshirt sophomore Spencer Moore, pictured during the match against Appalachian State at Varsity Gym on Dec. 17, 2023. UNC loses 14-24.

From the start of the heavyweight showdown between UNC and Navy, North Carolina was clearly outmuscled. UNC redshirt sophomore Cade Lautt fought hard, but his opposing grappler took a dominant first-period advantage 10-1. The resulting technical fall two phases later was almost a given. 

Riding a 15-14 dual lead with two matches to go, the pressure was on Spencer Moore to defend the 125-pound class for the Tar Heels. The team had a small advantage going into the match, but the redshirt sophomore earning more than a decision would be huge for North Carolina's hopes of defeating Navy.

Despite this pressure though, the nerves weren't much of a factor according to Moore.

“I had my family in town to watch,” he said. “So it was more just getting to enjoy the moment.”

Six Tar Heel wrestlers won their respective matches to give UNC a 20-17 victory over Navy on Sunday afternoon. The five regular decision wins kept North Carolina toe-to-toe with the Midshipmen, but a dominant technical fall from Moore almost entirely ensured a UNC win. 

The Kentucky native recorded just three points in the first period. In the second phase, Moore pulled off two more takedowns and Navy was trailing with a pair of escapes at 9-2. 

Moore and his opponent began at the neutral position to start the third period. Boasting a much stockier build, Moore kept his play close to the ground to earn a quick takedown. The Midshipman wrestler continually attempted to rival the aggressive style of Moore, but he was clearly no match. Moore went on to collect another 3-point takedown and benefit from a pair of Navy stalling calls. He then easily took a final takedown before the buzzer to gain a 15-point lead — just enough for the technical fall.

“I knew going in that I had the opportunity to score some bonus points and put our team in a really good position going into the last match," Moore said. “I saw the guys out before me did their jobs. I had to just go out and do mine.”

Moore’s poise in the final few seconds kept the pressure on the visiting team rather than on his teammate, Jace Palmer. Earning the technical fall meant that Navy was forced to post a pin in the final match to tie the dual.

“It took a lot of pressure off Jace, and that’s kind of our job,” Moore said. “It takes a little bit of pressure off the guy after you, so that was a big thing. It allowed him to just go out and wrestle.”

Palmer lost by decision, but the three points Navy earned were not enough to tie the dual. 

Moore's ability to keep cool in intense moments, and remain steady throughout tough matches, proved pivotal in giving the Tar Heels the edge. The underlying calmness is shared throughout the roster and staff due to the trust in one another. 

“I never worry about Spencer,” UNC head coach Rob Koll said. “That guy’s gonna show up every single time [as] the same guy. He’s gonna go 90 miles an hour for seven minutes and he may not win all of them because he’s maybe not as big or strong or technical as the next guy, but if you are not able to go for seven full minutes, he’s gonna beat you.” 

While Moore reflected on his match with humility, the ability to edge an opponent by 15 points is a true display of dominance. After all, he had both his parents in attendance this time, so he had to make it count. 

“My dad makes an eight hour drive all the time — way more than he should,” Moore said with a smile. “But my mom was able to make it this weekend, too.”


@dthsports |

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