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ASU Wrestling: #8 Arizona State comes up short in home opener vs. #24 North Carolina

The Sun Devils had their home opener spoiled by the Tar Heels Saturday afternoon losing as a team by a score of 20-15.

Richard Martinez/House of Sparky

After getting a win last weekend versus a ranked South Dakota State team, Arizona State (2-1) were not able to keep their momentum against #24 North Carolina (2-0) losing 20-15.

Arizona State pounced on North Carolina early, winning its first two matches to start things off. Senior Ryan Millhof (125 lb.) defeated UNC’s Joe Heilmann in a low scoring match 3-0 and sophomore Josiah Kline (wrestling up in the 133 lb. weight class) came out on top against James Szymanski by a final of 5-1. The Devils would drop their next two matches in both the 141 lb. and 149 lb. weight classes. Sophomore Cory Crooks suffered a loss to North Carolina’s Jaime Hernandez. Hernandez received a major decision win 12-4. Senior Josh Maruca would then come up just short against Austin O’Connor losing in a decision 3-2.

The struggles continued in the 157 lb. weight class for ASU, graduate student Christian Pagdilao, who came in 5-0 on the season, couldn’t get a win over UNC’s Kennedy Monday. Monday defeated Pagdilao 11-7 after Pagdilao clawed his way back into it late in the third period. Josh Shields, wrestling up in the 165 lb. weight class, would snap Arizona State’s three match losing streak by defeating Josh McClure 14-8. Unfortunately, the Tar Heels did not let that phase them as Devin Kane secured a fall on ASU’s Jacen Petersen (174 lb.) in the very next round to shift the momentum back over to North Carolina’s side.

The Sun Devils made things interesting late with junior Zahid Valencia and sophomore Kordell Norfleet. Valencia, who usually wrestles in the 174 lb. weight class, was wrestling up and got a big win against Chip Ness in the 184 lb. round. Valencia won by a decision 9-6. Norfleet (184 lb.), who was also wrestling up (197 lb. weight class), defeated Chasen Blair 9-4 to make the score 16-15 Tar Heels going into the final bout.

In the 285 lb. weight class match-up featuring ASU’s Brady Daniel and UNC’s Cory Daniel, the latter obtained a 12-3 major decision win over the former securing the victory for North Carolina. The Tar Heels ended up winning today’s dual meet 20-15, and in the process also ended up handing Arizona State their first loss of the season.

The Sun Devils have to put this defeat behind them as their season continues tomorrow against #2 Ohio State. The meet will start at noon inside Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe.