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Univ. of North Carolina Mat Jam advance press release



CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - After posting an 8-5 record during the regular season, the University of North Carolina wrestling team now prepares to defend its Atlantic Coast Conference title at this year's ACC Tournament, which will be held March 3 at Carmichael Auditorium in Chapel Hill starting at 11 a.m. This year's tournament, known as Mat Jam, will be held concurrently with the championship tournaments of the Colonial Athletic Association and the Southern Conference. The Tar Heels enter Mat Jam with a 4-1 record in the ACC and also as winners of six of their last seven dual meets. The streak is especially impressive given the amount of adversity faced by this season's team. Injuries to key wrestlers Matt Kenny, Corey Bell, Brad Byers, Nick Richmond as well as a season-ending separated shoulder to Jake Reynolds kept Carolina from competing at full strength almost the entire season. Add to that the midseason defection of ACC champion Chuckie Connor and it's understandable that this season was a trying one for Coach Bill Lam1s squad. "It1s been an unbelievable season with the injuries and adversity we've had," says Lam. "But I've been extremely proud of this team. Their ability to have a wining season shows a tremendous amount of courage." Redshirt junior JohnMark Bentley, who enters Mat Jam with a 27-1 record, leads Carolina into the tournament. Bentley is the No. 7 149-pounder in the country and has won 17 consecutive matches, a streak dating back to Dec. 1, 2000. Bentley captured ACC titles his first two seasons at Carolina and should make a strong case for his third straight title this weekend. Kenny, who won an ACC title last season, has returned from an injury to pace the Tar Heels in the heavyweight division. The junior from Great Meadows, N.J., has a 16-2 record on the season and has recorded 8 victories by pinfall. Another ACC champion on Lam1s roster that should be a favorite to repeat this weekend is Corey Bell, a junior 174-pounder from Durham, N.C. Bell has three ACC titles to his credit and enters this weekend with a 22-5 record on the season. 197 pounder Clint Osborn looks to defend his 2000 ACC title this weekend, while Brad Byers, an ACC finalist at 133 pounds last season, should contend for that title also. Nick Richmond has wrestled strong at 184 pounds for Coach Bill Lam this season. Richmond brings a 16-9 record into Mat Jam and is returning to early season form after a midseason injury. Also seeing action for the Tar Heels should be Chris Collins, the ACC Wrestler of the Week on Feb. 12, at 125 pounds, Mike Booth at 141 pounds, Chris DiGuiseppe at 157 pounds and Jason Wilson at 165 pounds.
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