The Tar Heels (5-3) began the day against No. 20 Lehigh (1-7) and stormed out of the gate. The first four matches went in Carolina’s favor, including a 17-7 major decision win for the fifth-ranked O’Connor over LU’s Cortlandt Schuyler. UNC picked up 12 key team points in A.C. Headlee and Josh McClure’s matches due to a pair of injury defaults.
Lehigh was able to win the final five matches of the day, including No. 6 Jordan Kutler’s pin of Will MacDonald at 174 pounds, but the major decision from O’Connor and the injury points swung the match in Carolina’s favor, a 22-18 win for the Tar Heels.
Against North Dakota State, Carolina fell behind early due to wins from two of the country’s best lightweights, No. 9 Brent Fleetwood (125) and No. 17 Cam Sykora (133). It looked as though bonus points would make the difference for NDSU (5-3), but Carolina found a way to string together three key wins in the middle of the lineup to shift momentum.
The comeback started with Headlee, who fought a tough seven minutes to collect a 6-1 win over Taylor Nein. After that, O’Connor improved his season record to 19-2 with a pin of Jaden Van Maanen in 3:58.
Perhaps the most key performance of the day came in the next match when McClure picked up a down-to-the-wire 5-4 decision over Luke Weber. Weber scored late on a reversal and looked as though he had a chance to win, but McClure’s riding time point proved to be the difference.
After NDSU collected a pair of wins at 165 and 174, No. 11 Chip Ness turned in a strong performance against Michael Otomo. He jumped out to an early 9-0 lead after two periods and never looked back, winning 13-1 to give Carolina a key bonus point in the team score. Ness’ win tied the dual at 16 with two matches to go.
Chasen Blair fell to NDSU’s Cordell Eaton at 197, but Daniel closed out a win for the Tar Heels in dramatic fashion.
The first seven minutes of Daniel’s match against Brandon Metz were action-packed, but neither could score a takedown despite multiple close efforts. The match went into overtime tied at one, and after a scoreless sudden victory period, Daniel utilized a reversal and a takedown during the tiebreakers to score four points, winning 5-1.
Due to O’Connor’s previous win via fall, the Tar Heels won the dual on criteria, 20-19.
North Carolina will continue its road trip this week and travel west to Laramie, Wyoming, to compete in the Cowboy Shootout. The team will battle Wyoming, American and Army West Point on January 4. Friday night’s action will begin at 6:30 p.m. ET.
No. 12 North Carolina 22, No. 20 Lehigh 18
125: Joe Heilmann (UNC) dec. Luke Resnick (LU), 3-2 – UNC leads 3-0
133: Gary Wayne Harding (UNC) dec. Brandon Paetzell (LU), 5-2 – UNC leads 6-0
141: A.C. Headlee (UNC) won by inj. def. Luke Karam (LU) – UNC leads 12-0
149: #5 Austin O’Connor (UNC) maj. dec. Cortlandt Schuyler (LU), 17-7 – UNC leads 16-0
157: Josh McClure (UNC) won by inj. def. #20 Josh Humphreys (LU) – UNC leads 22-0
165: Gordon Wolf (LU) dec. Sawyer Davidson (UNC), 12-9 – UNC leads 22-3
174: #6 Jordan Kutler (LU) pinned Will MacDonald (UNC), 4:20 – UNC leads 22-9
184: #8 Ryan Preisch (LU) dec. #11 Chip Ness (UNC), 4-1 – UNC leads 22-12
197: Kyle Gentile (LU) dec. Hunter Queen (UNC), 9-3 – UNC leads 22-15
285: #6 Jordan Wood (LU) dec. #15 Cory Daniel (UNC), 6-4 – UNC wins 22-18
No. 12 North Carolina 20, No. 21 North Dakota State 19
125: Brent Fleetwood (NDSU) maj. dec. Joe Heilmann (UNC), 12-2 – NDSU leads 4-0
133: Cam Sykora (NDSU) maj. dec. Gary Wayne Harding (UNC), 10-0 – NDSU leads 8-0
141: A.C. Headlee (UNC) dec. Taylor Nein (NDSU), 6-1 – NDSU leads 8-3
149: #5 Austin O’Connor (UNC) pinned Jaden Van Maanen (NDSU), 3:58 – UNC leads 9-8
157: Josh McClure (UNC) dec. Luke Weber (NDSU), 5-4 – UNC leads 12-8
165: Andrew Fogarty (NDSU) dec. Sawyer Davidson (UNC), 5-2 – UNC leads 12-11
174: Lorenzo De La Riva (NDSU) tech fall Will MacDonald (UNC), 19-2 – NDSU leads 16-12
184: #11 Chip Ness (UNC) maj. dec. Michael Otomo (NDSU), 13-1 – Tied 16-16
197: Cordell Eaton (NDSU) dec. Chasen Blair (UNC), 7-4 – NDSU leads 19-16
285: #15 Cory Daniel (UNC) dec. Brandon Metz (NDSU), 5-1 – Tied 19-19
*North Carolina wins by first criteria, total wins by fall