UNC storms past Chattanooga in dual opener

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Redshirt freshmen Austin O'Connor and Chasen Blair picked up major decision wins to help lead the No. 24 North Carolina wrestling team to a 23-10 over the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in the team's first dual of the season Sunday at Maclellan Gym.

Carolina dropped the first three matches of the afternoon before rattling off seven straight wins. O'Connor was able to string together three takedowns in his second period and collect strong riding time throughout the match to beat Tanner Smith, 14-4, and begin UNC's run.

It was Josh McClure at 165 pounds who tied things up at 10 with a 9-4 win. That was followed by a tight win from Devin Kane at 174, who was able to break a tie and score a late takedown to win, giving the Tar Heels a 13-10 lead that they'd extend the rest of the way.

Blair impressed in his match for Carolina's second major decision. After a relatively slow first period, he scored a takedown and a four-point near fall to advance to the second period with a 6-0 lead. He finished strong with two takedowns in the third period, winning 13-4 for his first collegiate dual victory.

Head coach Coleman Scott was pleased with the performances of the new faces who took the mat on Sunday, particularly those of O'Connor and Blair.

"Both Chasen and Austin gave us a big boost today," Scott said. "They stepped up when they needed to and showed that our young guys are going to play a big role for us this year. It was really encouraging to see them lead us today."

Ranked Tar Heels Kennedy Monday (No. 7 at 157), Chip Ness (No. 7, 184) and Cory Daniel (No. 15, 285) were also winners for the Tar Heels.

Carolina will hit the road again next weekend for a matchup with No. 8 Arizona State. The dual is set for 2 p.m. Saturday in Tempe, Ariz.

125: Fabian Gutierrez (UTC) maj. dec. Joe Heilmann (UNC), 12-2 - Chattanooga leads 4-0
133: Jake Huffine (UTC) dec. James Szymanski (UNC), 8-6 (SV-1) - Chattanooga leads 7-0
141: Chris Debien (UTC) dec. A.C. Headlee (UNC), 10-5 - Chattanooga leads 10-0
149: #16 Austin O'Connor (UNC) maj. dec. Tanner Smith (UTC), 14-4 - Chattanooga leads 10-4
157: #7 Kennedy Monday (UNC) dec. Ryan Resnick (UTC), 10-4 - Chattanooga leads 10-7
165: Josh McClure (UNC) dec. Drew Nicholson (UTC), 9-4 - Tied 10-10
174: Devin Kane (UNC) dec. Hunter Fortner (UTC), 4-1 - UNC leads 13-10
184: #7 Chip Ness (UNC) dec. Dominic Lampe (UTC), 4-0 - UNC leads, 16-10
197: Chasen Blair (UNC) maj. dec. Rodney Jones (UTC), 13-4 - UNC leads, 12-10
285: #15 Cory Daniel (UNC) dec. Connor Tolley (UTC), 6-1 - UNC wins, 23-10


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