With a chance to pull off a signature conference upset on the road Saturday night at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, the 25th-ranked UNC wrestling team came up short in a 21-9 loss to the No. 9 Virginia Tech Hokies.
James Szymanski gave the Tar Heels (8-9, 2-1 ACC) the early lead with a 10-3 decision victory at 125 pounds, but Virginia Tech (13-2, 3-0 ACC) responded with wins in each of the next three bouts to take control of the match for good.
UNC received a 3-1 decision win midway through the dual from 16th-ranked Kennedy Monday at 157 pounds before 18th-ranked heavyweight Cory Daniel closed out the evening with a 3-2 win over No. 17 Andrew Dunn.
Virginia Tech ultimately won the match, however, by taking out the Tar Heels’ top two performers.
In the 149-pound matchup, the Hokies’ Ryan Blees–who came into the night unranked–upset No. 6 Troy Heilmann 3-1.
Later on in the 174-pound bout, another unranked Virginia Tech wrestler–Hunter Bolen–earned the home side a 15-6 major decision win over No. 13 Ethan Ramos.
Those two results kept the Tar Heels out of striking distance in regards to the team score, preventing what could have been a huge win for the team’s confidence moving forward.
UNC will now prepare for its annual rivalry match against NC State, which is scheduled to take place in Raleigh on Friday, Feb. 9 at 7:30 p.m.