Trojan matmen pinned by No. 12 Newberry

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Remember the loss and use it as motivation.

The simple mantra may prove pivotal for the University of Mount Olive, which opened its wrestling season with a 37-11 loss to nationally-ranked Newberry College on Sunday afternoon.

The 12th-ranked Wolves emerged victorious in seven of 10 contested matches — including four by pin.

“[This] gives us some things to work on,” said first-year UMO head coach Dan Willis. “[I’m] glad we wrestled the preseason [South Atlantic Conference] favorite early on because now we know what we need to work on. You have to step out there and wrestle. Some guys just didn’t perform today.”

UMO collected three individual wins.

Sophomore Hayden Waddell dominated the Wolves’ Austin Neal, 7-2, at 133 pounds. Freshman teammate Matthew Wuntke slipped past Devan Moore, 7-5, at 149 pounds.

Micah Dixon, who redshirted last season, seized control early and hammered out a technical fall (16-1) over Brandon Dickman at 197 pounds.

The remaining outcomes disappointed Willis, who felt the overall score wasn’t indicative of his team’s competitiveness inside the circle.

UMO took a hit when three wrestlers were quarantined for false-positive COVID tests, and then each failed to make weight. Those changes led to strategical miscues from the coaching chair and on the mat.

The Trojans surrendered the initial takedown in seven matches and all resulted in defeat. The outcomes didn’t sit well with Willis, who felt the team gave away individual bouts it could have easily won.

“We had some guys to wrestle above their level and some guys to wrestle below their level,” said Willis, who started seven freshmen and three sophomores. “We haven’t been able to train the way we should because of the pauses with COVID and that’s not an excuse because everybody’s dealing with it.

“Some guys went out there, got caught early and couldn’t catch up or got put on their back and got pinned. I felt like they could have been in the match if that hadn’t happened. We’ll be positive about it.”

UMO travels across the state line next Sunday for a tri-meet at Limestone College. Joining the two teams are future Conference Carolinas member UNC Pembroke.

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