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UNC rolls Virginia on Senior Night

CHAPEL HILL -- No. 14 North Carolina earned its third-straight victory on Saturday evening against No. 21 Virginia, 25-9.

Eight Tar Heel seniors were honored pre-match as part of North Carolina's senior night in Carmichael Arena. Sawyer Davidson, Andrew Gunning, Ethan Hoffman, Devin Kane, Nick Lirette, Will MacDonald, Josh McClure, and Kennedy Monday were each recognized for their commitment to the Carolina Wrestling family.

The dual started at the 133-pound weight class with Joe Heilmann donning Carolina Blue. Both wrestlers battled through the first two periods without a score until Heilmann earned an escape 30 seconds into the third period. With a point for riding time, Heilmann knocked off No. 10 Louie Hayes, 2-0, to earn three team points for the Tar Heels.

A double-leg takedown early in the first period gave No. 10 Zach Sherman an early advantage in the 141-pound bout in the first ranked matchup of the evening against No. 16 Brian Courtney. An escape in the third period pushed Sherman's advantage to 5-3 and the match would end 5-4 in Sherman's favor.

The nation's top-ranked wrestler at 149 pounds, Austin O'Connor, earned four quick points against UVA's Denton Spencer to take a 4-1 lead early in the opening period. O'Connor dominated the bout and his lead ballooned to 16-5 midway through the third period. A late takedown and a point for riding time earned O'Connor the 19-5 win and gave UNC a 10-0 lead.

The three-match winning streak was the first time the Tar Heels knocked off three-straight opponents to begin a dual against ACC competition.

Senior Josh McClure battled tough against No. 17 Justin McCoy at 157 pounds and kept the match within reach heading into the third period, but a late escape and takedown by McCoy proved too much and McClure fell 8-2.

No. 11 Kennedy Monday's strong start in the 165-pound match was not enough as the senior fell, 17-15. Virginia's No. 13 Jake Keating mounted a comeback that would be cemented with a third period takedown. The Keating win helped UVA pull within four points (10-6) in the team score.

The match continued with the 174-pound bout between UNC's No. 18 Clay Lautt and UVA's Vic Marcelli. Low scoring through the first two periods, a late takedown and four back points for Lautt cemented a 7-1 decision.

Devin Kane provided the Tar Heel bench a spark after he recorded his second pin of the season in three minutes and 36 seconds into the 184-pound match. With the bout tied at two points in the second period, Kane recorded UNC's only pin of the evening.

No. 19 Max Shaw wrestled reigning ACC Champion No. 8 Jay Aiello tough in the 197-pound match. After recording the bout's first points with a quick takedown, Shaw surrendered two takedowns in the second period and fell to Aiello, 9-2.

In the night's heavyweight match, UNC's Andrew Gunning earned the match's first points with a first-period takedown. After UVA's Ethan Weatherspoon escaped late in the first, the two traded points until Gunning took a 7-3 lead in the final period. With a point for riding time, Gunning earned the 8-4 decision.

The 125-pound match wrapped up the dual for the two squads with Wil Guida in a Carolina singlet. The Tar Heel cruised to a 11-4 victory and gave the Tar Heels a 25-9 team victory.

After defeating Pittsburgh and Lehigh a week ago, the Tar Heels ride a three-match win streak into the ACC Championships, which will take place on Feb. 28 in Raleigh, N.C.

Results:
125: Wil Guida (UNC) dec. Josiah Encarnacion (UVA), 11-4
133: Joe Heilmann (UNC) dec. No. 10 Louie Hayes (UVA), 2-0
141: No. 10 Zach Sherman (UNC) dec. No. 16 Brian Courtney, 5-4
149: No. 1 Austin O'Connor (UNC) maj. dec. Denton Spencer (UVA), 19-5
157: No. 17 Justin McCoy (UVA) dec. Josh McClure (UNC), 8-2
165: No. 13 Jake Keating (UVA) dec. No. 11 Kennedy Monday (UNC), 18-15
174: No. 18 Clay Lautt (UNC) dec. Vic Marcelli (UVA), 7-1
184: Devin Kane (UNC) pinned Robby Patrick (UVA), 4:36
197: No. 8 Jay Aiello (UVA) dec. No. 19 Max Shaw (UNC), 9-2
285: Andrew Gunning (UNC) dec. Ethan Weatherspoon (UVA), 8-4

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