Impressions Of A Dual Chapel Hill, NC
Feb. 16, 2019
It’s so easy to watch a college basketball game with a friend. We both played the game and we know it well. Nothing needs explaining. It’s the same thing with football and baseball. Even tennis and soccer. But wrestling? How can one get that friend who’s not into wrestling, to come watch wrestling? And even if he, or she, did come to watch wrestling …
How do you explain to that friend the thrill of a 29-5 dual?
149-lbs. (Will Koll – C/Austin O’Connor – UNC) – How do you get the friend to see beyond, way beyond, the workings of a 23-8 TF? To instead see the 8-pt. wrestler as once being four, five, six years old, playing around with his dad, learning one by one little wrestling moves. The dad dreaming that one day the boy will grow up and be good enough to wrestle at a major Div. 1 university. The dad further dreaming that he might coach his own son at that university. Then Boom! There it is!
How do you get the non-wrestling-fan friend to concentrate on those moments, all 23-8 of them, and see the utter beauty, despite the score, of a dream come true?
UNC 5 Cornell 0
157-lbs. (Adam Santoro – C/Josh McClure – UNC) – How do you get the friend to see, to feel, the scintillation of a 3-2 bout, seconds left, the wrestlers tied up on the floor, seemingly nothing happening, but both of them, with just a little more exertion here or there, in position for a last second takedown? Had it been Josh, and it almost was, the dual takes a dramatic shift, and momentum stays with the Blue.
UNC 5 Cornell 3
165-lbs. (Andrew Berreyesa – C/Sawyer Davidson – UNC) – Andrew 3-2
174-lbs. (Brandon Womack – C/Devin Kane – UNC) – Brandon 3-1
184-lbs. (Max Dean – C/Chip Ness – UNC) – Max 4-2
UNC 5 Cornell 12
How do you explain to the friend that all of these three matches, as is often said, could have gone either way? And that had UNC swept the three, instead of Cornell, UNC would have been up 14-3, and the eventual outcome of the dual would be dramatically different.
Would the friend be interested to know that Max was coming off a win over the No. 3 ranked 184? And not just a win, but a 9-0 pasting. And that the 2-pt. victory margin here was due to a takedown awarded to him on a call that got reversed, after review.
197-lbs. (Ben Honis – C/Brandon Whitman – UNC) – After four straight thriller bouts, the 13-5 major by Ben was really never in question. I would tell the friend that Ben is currently No. 7 in the nation. He probably has it in him to reach the National semifinals. Perhaps the Finals.
UNC 5 Cornell 16
285-lbs. (Jeramy Sweeny – C/Cory Daniel – UNC) – The Heavies put on the kind of 6-4 show you wish you would see more of with the high school big boys. Both Jeramy and Cory were very athletic and quick on their feet. Jeramy’s winning TD came with seconds left.
UNC 5 Cornell 19
125-lbs. (Vitali Arujau – C/Joe Heilmann – UNC) – How do you tell the friend that despite the 16-4 final score, this match had much drama and intrigue?
Vitali, ranked No. 8 in the nation, is from New York, a state with obvious exceptional wrestling talent.
Then there’s Joe, a freshman from New Jersey, another powerhouse wrestling state. Joe has a brother, Troy (in attendance) who also wrestled for UNC. Troy in fact placed 4th in the National Tournament last year in Cleveland. Joe may become as good or even better than Troy. Who knows? But after having met Troy and talking to him, the Impression was that he is a very fine young man. Must come from a very fine family. The kind of person that you instantly hope for the very best for them.
UNC 5 Cornell 23
133-lbs. (Chas Tucker - C/Gary Wayne Harding - UNC) Had UNC swept 157-165-174-184 instead of Cornell, at the 133 juncture we could have been looking at a 14-14 tie. UNC could then possibly have been in position to face National Champion Yianni with a 17-14 Dual lead.
But Chas won this one, 6-5. Another thriller. So, how you explain to the friend that this dual, lopsided as the score looks, was really quite close? Would the friend even care?
UNC 5 Cornell 26
141-lbs. (Yianni Diakomihalis – C/ - - - my apologies to the UNC wrestler. I did not make a note of which one it was. It was either A.C. Headlee or Jaime Hernandez.)
I think it would have been no problem explaining to the friend that a returning national champion was on the mat. That he is now just a sophomore. I would tell the friend that while the UNC wrestler is certainly no pushover, he should be able to see more precisioned execution and moves in the returning champion Yianni. And that there is something especially intriguing about watching a returning champion go to work.
UNC 5 Cornell 29
And so 29-5 was the final score. On paper, a blowout. But on the mat, the Tar Heels gave mighty Cornell much more than 5-29 will ever show.
I give top marks to Host UNC. Everyone I met and talked to was genuinely warm. I felt so welcomed. A shout out to Olivia, with the UNC Sports Administration. And to longtime wrestling supporter Brian Staton, who sat behind me and shouted out encouragement to every UNC wrestler at every turn.
What may have been lacking in terms of a full house, with noise all the way through, was more than made up by the pure passion that existed among those who were there.
Carmichael Arena, the historic and venerable place on the UNC campus where the Royals of Round ball first moved toward the trail of the Legends. Including he who became the greatest ever.
An expanse of old, strong trees peer at Carmichael from across the street. Plush, green, still growing, the trees fill a centuries old graveyard, where restless souls once quivered from the noise of echoing shouts and lauding of the greats that once trotted on Carmichael’s floor.
The greats still visit Carmichael, for the home team and from afar. But … they “play” a different “game.”
Lastly, it was pure joy seeing UNC Welcome back home one of those greats, and give honor to him. He was their 1988 NCAA Champion — Rob Koll.