Evan Henderson claimed his first ACC title Saturday.
Evan Henderson claimed his first ACC title Saturday.
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Henderson Claims ACC Title
Release: 03/09/2013

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Sophomore Evan Henderson posted a 2-0 record to claim his first Atlantic Coast Conference title on Saturday as the Tar Heels finished in fourth place with 45 team points. A total of four Tar Heels earned a trip to the NCAA Championships on Saturday.

Henderson earned the top overall seed at 141 pounds thanks to a 5-0 dual record in conference action and lived up to the billing Saturday in College Park, Md.

Henderson opened action against NC State's Tyler Hunt and was able to secure a pin at the 4:00 minute mark to punch his ticket to the final and an NCAA bid.

Virginia Tech's Zach Neibert, the second overall seed, also reached the final and the pair of ranked wrestlers did battle. Henderson would emerge victorious with a 5-3 decision to claim UNC's first ACC title since 2011.

Three other Tar Heels also earned a ticket to the NCAA Championships on Saturday as Nathan Kraisser (125) reached the finals, John Staudenmayer (165) claimed third place as did Alex Utley (184).

Kraisser entered as the top seed at 125 pounds and blanked the 2012 ACC champion Matt Snyder (UVA) in his opening match, 6-0. The Maryland native, then took on 2011 ACC champion Jarrod Garnett in the final.

Garnett held an early advantage and carried it into the third period before pinning Kraisser at 5:58.

John Staudenmayer got off to a hot start on Saturday as he majored Maryland's Domenic Derobertis, 10-1, before dropping a hard-fought sudden victory decision to Virginia's Nick Sulzer.

Staudenmayer responded with a 13-2 major decision against Duke's Randy Roden before claiming the final NCAA bid at 165 pounds with a 6-0 decision over NC State's Nijel Jones.

Alex Utley posted similar results to Staudenmayer with a 16-1 tech fall over Duke's Dylan Ryan in the opener before falling to top seed Jimmy Sheptock of Maryland, 11-1.

In the consolation round, Utley blanked NC State's Keegan Cerwinski to the tune of an 18-0 tech fall before majoring the two seed, Nick Vetterlein of Virginia Tech in the third place match.

Another Tar Heel could earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships when they are announced next week as 133-pounder Joey Ward narrowly missed earning an automatic bid.

Ward lost three matches by a combined four points as he dropped a 3-2 decision to Duke's Brandon Gambucci in the opening round, a 4-3 overtime decision to Erik Spjut of Virginia Tech and a 5-3 decision to Geoffrey Alexander of Maryland.

Ward and Alexander wrestled in a separate fifth-place match as the ACC earned five automatic bids at 133 pounds.

Chris Mears was the third Tar Heel to finish in the top three when he went 2-1 at 157 pounds.

Mears fell by a point to NC State's Matt Nereim to open the day at 5-4 before responding with a pair of overtime decisions. Mears claimed a sudden victory over Duke's Immanuel Kerr-Brown in the consolation semifinals before getting revenge on Nereim with a takedown in the third overtime session.

Christian Barber (149), Tanner Eitel (174), Frank Abbondanza (197) and Cody Klempay each went 0-2 in their first ACC Championships.

Virginia Tech claimed the overall team title with 95.5 team points, narrowly besting Virginia (90.5), for their first team title. Maryland took third with 48.5 points, ahead of the Tar Heels who finished ahead of fifth place NC State (30 points) and sixth place Duke (26 points).

The 2013 NCAA Championships at-large bids will be announced on Wednesday, March 13. The NCAA Championships will take place March 21-23 in Des Moines, Iowa. 

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