DURHAM, N.C.—North Carolina picked up a pair of falls and won six matches overall to score a 25-15 victory over rival Duke in ACC wrestling action this evening in Card Gymnasium. The Blue Devils lead through four matches, but couldn’t hold off the Tar Heels’ back half of the lineup.
Duke redshirt junior Jacob Kasper continued his hot streak, earning his 20th straight victory and 26th overall on the year as he gutted out a hard-fought 3-1 decision over Cory Daniel. The nation’s No. 4 heavyweight and Daniel were knotted 1-1 late in the third period, but much like he’s done all season, Kasper came through down the stretch with a takedown for the win.
Duke (4-8, 0-4) jumped out to an 8-0 lead thanks to wins from Thayer Atkins and Cole Baumgartner at 125 and 133, respectively. Atkins held a narrow 3-2 lead after the first period and he extended it to 6-3 heading into the third period.
Szymanski continued to battle Atkins tough in the third period, escaping and pulling within one point with time running down. The junior 125-pounder held off the late charge to score his 19th victory of the year.
“Thayer wrestled really tough,” said head coach Glen Lanham. “Thayer is having an awesome season right now. That is a really tough kid and has had some good wins.”
Baumgartner, riding a hot streak of his own as a winner in four of his past five outings, was outstanding at 133 pounds as he recorded his 18th win with a dominating 18-2 technical fall over Nicolas Lirette. After falling behind on an early takedown, Baumgartner responded with seven unanswered points for a 7-2 after the first. He only added to his lead over the next four minutes to get his first technical fall of the year and put Duke in front 8-0.
“Cole wrestled lights out,” Lanham said. “That’s a tough kid and Cole went out and just dominated him. He was strong in every position, on his feet and especially on top.”
Momentum shifted in the Tar Heels’ direction as they picked up a 6-2 decision from No. 7 Joey Ward at 141 and a major decision by Troy Heilmann at 149 to make it a one-point match, 8-7.
In a match the Blue Devils thought could turn the tides back in their favor, proved to do the opposite. North Carolina’s 157-pounder Joey Moon, after scoring a takedown in the final seconds of the second period, escaped from Jake Faust’s grasp to take a one-point lead in the third. Faust furiously attacked in the final minute, but simply ran out of time as Moon defended just long enough to avoid the takedown and take home the 5-4 victory.
The loss at 157 appeared to take an emotional toll on the Blue Devils while giving life to the Tar Heels. North Carolina got a pin at 165, decision at 174, despite a strong effort from senior Connor Bass, to extend its lead to 19-8.
Alec Schenk hit the mat at 184 and picked up an 11-0 major decision to bring four points to Duke’s scoring total, but another pin at 197 put the Blue Devils behind too many points for Kasper to overcome in the final match of the night.
Schenk dominated his match at 184 and pushed his overall record to 9-12 and 2-2 against ACC foes. Leading just 2-0 after the first period, Schenk got to his offense in the second to stretch the advantage to 6-0 and eventually to 11-0 for his second straight ACC triumph.
The Blue Devils close out their regular season Feb. 18 at Pittsburgh. The match is slated to start at 7 p.m.
North Carolina 25, Duke 15
125: Thayer Atkins (Duke) dec. James Szymanski (UNC), 6-5 | Duke 3, UNC 0
133: Cole Baumgartner (Duke) tech fall Nicolas Lirette, 18-2 | Duke 8, UNC 0
141: No. 7 Joey Ward (UNC) dec. Zach Finesilver (Duke), 6-2 | Duke 8, UNC 3
149: Troy Heilmann (UNC) major dec. Xaviel Ramos (Duke), 18-6 | Duke8, UNC 7
157: Joey Moon (UNC) dec. Jake Faust (Duke), 5-4 | Duke 8, UNC 10
165: Devin Kane (UNC) fall Michael Wright (Duke), 3:16 | Duke 8, UNC 16
174: No. 6 Ethan Ramos (UNC) dec. Connor Bass (Duke), 10-5 | Duke 8, UNC 19
184: Alec Schenk (Duke) major dec. Elijah Kerr-Brown (UNC), 11-0 | Duke 12, UNC 19
197: Daniel Chaid (UNC) fall Luke Farinaro (Duke), 4:56 | Duke 12, UNC 25
HWT: No. 4 Jacob Kasper (Duke) dec. Cory Daniel (UNC), 3-1 | Duke 15, UNC 25