RALEIGH, N.C. --- Led by a trio of finalists, the North Carolina wrestling team had five individuals earn automatic bids to nationals Saturday at the 2017 ACC Championships at Reynolds Coliseum. Troy Heilmann, Ethan Ramos and Danny Chaid each earned All-ACC honors by virtue of a runner-up finish, while Joey Ward and Cory Daniel also picked up tickets to the NCAA Championships in St. Louis.
Heilmann was the first Tar Heel to make a final when he upset second-seeded Sam Speno of NC State in the semifinals at 141 pounds. Heilmann used a late takedown in the second period to build a lead and held off a late charge by Speno to score a 6-5 decision. The redshirt junior from South Plainfield, New Jersey, fell to top-seeded Solomon Chishko of Virginia Tech in the final, 12-7.
Ramos was the defending champion at 174 and breezed into the final with a 17-5 major decison over Duke's Connor Bass in the semis. In a rematch of the 2016 final, Ramos suffered a tight 4-3 defeat to Virginia Tech's Zach Epperly.
Chaid rolled past Duke's Luke Farinaro with a 20-7 major in the 197 quarters before he met second-seeded Malik McDonald of NC State in the semis. The junior from San Jose, California, scored one of the biggest wins of his career, topping McDonald 8-6 to secure a spot at nationals in a class that only featured two auto bids. Chaid suffered a 6-3 loss to top-seeded Jared Haught in the final.
Ward needed a pair of consolation wins to secure his NCAA berth. After falling to Virginia's George DiCamillo in the semis, Ward won a pair of tight matches with Duke's Zach Finesilver and Pitt's Nick Zanetta to grab the final auto spot at 141.
Daniel started his day at 285 with an upset win over NC State's Mike Kosoy to advance to the semifinals. After falling to top-seeded Ty Walz of Virginia Tech, Daniel earned a bid to nationals with a 1-0 victory over Virginia's Tyler Love.
Devin Kane was the other Tar Heel to post a top-four finish on the day, taking fourth at 165. His debut at the ACC Championships was highlighted by a 19-0 tech fall over Duke's Joey Abbate in the quarters.
Carolina finished with 44 team points to place fifth in the overall competition. Virginia Tech took the team title with 93 points, comfortably beating NC State's 64.