The Tar Heels ended the season last year on a high note - crowning Austin O’Connor with his second NCAA title and freshman Lachlan McNeil and sophomore Gavin Kane earning All-American honors, while finishing in 12th place as a team. They return a solid nucleus from last year’s squad that will provide much-needed stability and leadership for a program under new leadership. Previous Head Coach Coleman Scott announced his resignation and returned to his alma mater at Oklahoma State, leading to the return of UNC alum and well-established and successful Head Coach Rob Koll. Koll has shaken up the coaching staff by bringing two coaches with him from Stanford in Enock Francois and Ben Darmstadt. They maintained the consistent leadership of Associate Head Coach Tony Ramos, who has been a lynchpin in the growth of this program. North Carolina will have a much different look to their lineup this year after the graduation of four multi-year starters; Zach Sherman, Austin O’Connor, Clay Lautt, Brandon Whitman and transfer Jack Wagner; we will see some very talented younger Tar Heels taking to the mat. I am very interested to see how the team fares under the leadership of Koll, who has an incredible resume and track record of success across all weight classes.
Lachlan McNeil navigated a challenging freshman season well; he took some tough losses early in the season but rounded into form before ACC duals. In one of the tougher weights in the ACC, he went 3-2 in duals, falling to All-American Cole Matthews and Ryan Jack. He dropped a tight match to Jack in the ACC semifinals and finished in 3rd. I spoke with Lachlan after this match and it was clear it left a bad taste in his mouth and he expected more from himself.
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