2023-2024 Early NCAA Lineup Looks

Early Line-up Look: North Carolina Tar Heels

Early Line-up Look: North Carolina Tar Heels

An early breakdown of the North Carolina Tar Heels for the upcoming 2023-24 NCAA season.

Jun 7, 2023 by Kyle Klingman
Early Line-up Look: North Carolina Tar Heels


Head coach: Coleman Scott (9th season)

Assistants: Tony Ramos, Jamill Kelly, Mohamed Abdelfatah

2023 NCAA tournament finish: 12th

2023 NCAA tournament points: 42

2023 NCAA tournament record: 17-9

2023 ACC tournament finish: 4th

2023 dual record: 6-9 (2-3)

Returning national qualifiers: 3 (Lachlan McNeil, Gavin Kane, Max Shaw)

Returning All-Americans: 2 (Lachlan McNeil and Gavin Kane)

Last NCAA champion: Austin O’Connor (2023)

Highest NCAA team finish: 5th (1982)

Highest NCAA team finish under Scott: 12th (2023)

Most place winners under Scott: 3 (2022, 2023)

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Last 10 NCAA Championships

2013: 22nd (Mock)

2014: 25th (Mock)

2015: 24th (Mock)

2016: 32nd (Scott)

2017: 41st (Scott)

2018: 20th (Scott)

2019: 19th (Scott)

2020: Canceled (COVID)

2021: 16th (Scott)

2022: 18th (Scott)

2023: 12th (Scott)


North Carolina enters the 2023-24 season following a memorable year. Austin O’Connor won his second NCAA title, making him the first Tar Heel to win multiple championships since 1995. Coleman Scott had his highest finish as head coach and he tied his personal record for the most national place winners during his tenure. Scott’s team showed up when it counted most.

There are holes to fill next season, and none is bigger than the graduation of O’Connor. His presence as a leader and as a point scorer was the foundation of a memorable five-year run. 

Returning All-American Lachlan McNeil appears to be the next man up after finishing fourth at the NCAA Championships a week after winning the Canadian Freestyle Nationals. Gavin Kane, an eighth-place finisher at 184 pounds, also returns — as does national qualifier, Max Shaw. 

Those three will be the foundation of North Carolina’s team during the 2024 season. 

The foundation of Scott’s coaching philosophy is development. He consistently discusses building key skills that translate on the mat and off of it. That will be the key to his success as the team enters the season. 

Spencer Moore, a 2021 U17 World teamer, returns to the lineup after redshirting, while a few others are coming off of redshirt or backup seasons. And there is always the possibility of a transfer or two. Development is the operative word as Scott leads a youthful team into the season. 

North Carolina’s Projected 2023-24 Line-up

125: Spencer Moore, SO

133: Jace Palmer, JR

141: Lachlan McNeil, SO (AA)

149: Jayden Scott, SO

157: Sonny Santiago, JR 

165: Nick Fea, FR

174: Cade Tenold, FR

184: Gavin Kane, JR (AA)

197: Max Shaw, JR (NQ)

285: Aydin Guttridge, JR

125: Spencer Moore, SO
2023 record: 8-3

Moore entered college as a 17-year-old and was in the varsity line-up as a true freshman. His 13-16 rookie season isn’t indicative of what he can do. There is optimism that he can continue to grow and score team points at the NCAA Championships. 

133: Jace Palmer, JR
2023 record: 12-14

Palmer had a losing record last season in a tough 133-pound class. The ACC was loaded, too — so it made reaching the NCAA Championships even more challenging. The Casper, Wyoming, native can only go up from here. Caden McCrary will contend for this spot and could be the starter. 

141: Lachlan McNeil, SO
2023 record: 27-9
2023 NCAA tournament record: 5-2 (4th)

McNeil has an opportunity to pick up where O’Connor left off and to be the heartbeat of the team. The Toronto, Ontario, native will be a national title contender at 141 pounds. The top three placers from last year return, so McNeil will need to make strides during the off-season. He has a solid freestyle game and his international competitions this year could make a difference.


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McNeil won by fall over Penn's Richard Delsanter at the Franklin & Marshall Lehman Open

149: Jayden Scott, FR
2023 record: 14-6

Scott primarily competed in opens last season but was used five times during varsity duals. This allowed him to gain valuable experience without burning a redshirt. He went 2-3 during those matches but the competition was tough. The Henrietta, New York, native faced Sammy Sasso (Ohio State) and Shayne Van Ness (Penn State) and lost 2-0 to Van Ness who placed third at nationals. Keep an eye out for Scott during the season. He has plenty of upside. 

157: Sonny Santiago, JR
2023 record: 9-1

Santiago was the starter at 165 during the 2022 season and is expected to start this season. He will get competition from Danny Nini who will compete for the 149- or 157-pound spot. The Downey, California, native wrestled in two opens last season and will be tasked with filling the open spot that O’Connor vacated due to graduation. 

165: Nick Fea, FR
2023 record: 4-5

Like Scott, Fea got a taste of the varsity line-up as a true freshman. He went 2-3 and, like Scott, faced tough competition. His losses were to Ohio State’s Carson Kharchla (12-8), Penn State’s Alex Facundo (5-2), and Cornell’s Julian Ramirez (6-2). His 4-5 record is deceptive based on the competition he faced. Expect improvements from the Bergan Catholic product. 

174: Cade Tenold, FR
2023 record: 12-13

Lots of options here for Scott but Tenold appears to be the front-runner during the off-season. Don’t be surprised if someone unexpected shows up here. 

184: Gavin Kane, JR
2023 record: 25-9
2023 NCAA tournament record: 4-3 (8th)

Kane joins McNeil as a returning All-American. He went 0-2 at the NCAA Championships and reached the podium in 2023. Hayden Hidlay (NC State) and Aaron Brooks (Penn State) are moving up to 197, which takes two top wrestlers out of this weight. To quote the catchphrase from the 1993 football movie “The Program”: KANE IS ABLE.


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Kane pinned Connor Strong at the Franklin & Marshall Lehman Open

197: Max Shaw, JR
2023 record: 16-12

Shaw should be the starter but he will get pushed by Cade Lautt. The Pittsburgh native has reached the NCAA Championships twice and has a win in each. This is still an unpredictable weight so there’s plenty of opportunity to make a run at nationals — even if it’s on the backside. 

285: Aydin Guttridge, JR
2023 record: 13-7

Guttridge went 1-3 during varsity action as a backup to Brandon Whitman. This will be his first season as the primary starter.