On Friday night, #18 North Carolina goes to Ann Arbor to take on #24 Michigan. Here are a few reasons to get excited for that dual.
Friday, Nov 8 | 7:00 PM ET
1) Mason Parris' Reign of Terror
Mason Parris opened his season going 5-0 at the Michigan State Open, including two major decisions, a fall, and a 9-2 win over All-American Matt Stencel. This came on the heels of Parris' Junior World title in the offseason.
While #5 Parris will be favored on Friday, #23 Andrew Gunning is no slouch. If Parris looks as dominant against Gunning as he did against the field this weekend, the rest of the country may have a big problem on its hands.
2) Kennedy Monday is Back
A healthy and fully activated Kennedy Monday could have a major impact on UNC's success as a team and on the field at 165. Monday has defeated two NCAA finalists in his career, knocking off Joey Lavallee and Tyler Berger, but he is yet to find the consistent success UNC fans would like to see from him.
Last weekend, Monday had a solid return to the mat, beating #17 Nick Kiussis of West Virginia before falling to Campbell's #15 Quinten Perez in a thrilling Southeast Open final. Friday's Michigan dual will offer another data point as we track Monday's progress. For now, check out Monday's wild Southeast Open final with Perez.
3) Will Lewan is off to a Great Start
Michigan freshman Will Lewan entered the preseason rankings at #22 after an up-and-down redshirt year, but his Michigan State Open performance last weekend has him all the way up at #8. Lewan dropped a front-side match to Kendall Coleman, one of the hottest wrestlers in the country, before knocking off Oklahoma's #17 Justin Thomas and Pitt's #9 Taleb Rahmani in the consolations.
In a season where the biggest Michigan wrestling story could be their Olympic redshirts, Lewan is creating great buzz for what's happening on the mat in Ann Arbor.
This Friday, Lewan will have a tough test in NCAA qualifier AC Headlee, up from 141 a season ago. This is the kind of seasoned veteran Lewan will have to beat if he wants to be on the podium in March.
4) First Year Starters in the Tar Heel Lineup
The aforementioned Lewan is the highest-profile first-year starter in the lineup for Michigan, but North Carolina is rolling out a trio of light-weights that could be the catalyst for that team all year.
At 125, freshman Joey Melendez is already ranked #22 despite very little time to create a résumé. Sophomores Jaime Hernandez and #23 Zachary Sherman are holding down the 133 and 141 spots respectively. Tar Heel fans expect a lot out of these three in their first year as full-time starters. We'll see what they have on Friday night.
This dual should teach us a lot. For more context, check out the full lineup predictions announced by North Carolina:
📃 We've got lineups! 📃— UNC Wrestling (@UNCWrestling) November 6, 2019
Take a look at who we'll be sending to Ann Arbor this weekend to match up with the Michigan Wolverines: https://t.co/oLpuARZoUA
Bonus Reason: Jelani Embree Returned To Form
Embree was a massive recruit coming out of Michigan. His 15-2 redshirt season only amped up the hype leading into last season. Unfortunately hampered by injuries, Embree did not have the breakout freshman campaign Wolverine fans had hoped for.
But last weekend, at the Michigan State Open, Embree returned to form, making the finals and taking out a pair of ranked wrestlers along the way. Despite many of Michigan's stars taking Olympic redshirts, a reinvigorated Embree makes the Wolverines must-see wrestling.