The Tar Heel Wrestling Open made history tonight as the first card to host a women’s freestyle bout as the singular main event. In the final match of the night, Tar Heel Wrestling Club resident athlete Macey Kilty downed McKendree’s Emma Bruntil, 3-0. The pair had only wrestled once before with Bruntil, a 2020 National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling champion, emerging victorious, 6-4, in the 2019 Senior Nationals semifinals. In her post-match interview, Kilty, a Cadet World champion and five-time age-group World medalist, expressed that being able to avenge that loss was significant for her.
“It feels good. It stung for a while. It’s good to get that one back,” she said.
The difference in the match came in the first period, when Kilty was able to get in on her patented head-inside single. Bruntil attempted to fight her off to no avail, and was actually dinged a penalty point before Kilty finished the takedown.
Austin O’Connor turned in perhaps the night’s most impressive performance in the co-main event with an 11-0 technical fall over two-time NCAA champion Dean Heil. O’Connor, a 2019 NCAA All-American and 2020 NWCA First-Team All-American for UNC, controlled every aspect of the match. Leading 3-0 at the break off a takedown and a passivity point, O’Connor cranked up the pressure in the second period, rattling off four-straight takedowns to earn the victory.
It was announced that O’Connor will face Yianni Diakomihalis on January 8, on a card featuring matchups between the THWC and Spartan Combat RTC. More matchups will be released during the lead up to the event.
Nicolas Aguilar dominated the first match of the main card with a 10-0 victory over Joe Heilmann. Aguilar led 6-0 after the first period on the strength of two takedowns and an exposure, nearly pinning Heilmann before the buzzer sounded.
Aguilar, an NWCA Honorable Mention All-American as a freshman last season for Rutgers, exposed Heilmann twice in the second period on a scramble to earn the technical fall.
At 200 pounds, Jordan Pagano defeated Max Shaw, 11-5. Pagano, a two-time NCAA qualifier for Rutgers now on staff as an administrative assistant, scored four points at the end of the first period with a leg lace, shifting the momentum in his favor. He kept the pressure on in the second period, locking up the victory.
In one of the night’s marquee matchups, 2020 NWCA Second-Team All-American Sammy Alvarez of the SKWC stunned 2019 Junior World bronze medalist Gabe Tagg of the THWC, 10-0. Alvarez locked up a Jonesy tilt, which he used to expose Tagg for six points. Shortly after, Alvarez exposed Tagg twice more in a scramble, ending the match.
In the next bout, Kamal Bekaguv of the SKWC defeated Will Guida of the THWC, 9-3. Bekaguv, a Cadet World fifth-place finisher for Russia, led Guida, 5-2, at the break. In the second period, Bekaguv scored on two reattacks, while Guida only managed a step out.
At 165 pounds, AC Headlee turned in a dominant performance over the NYCRTC’s Nestor Taffur. Headlee opened the match with a big four-point throw on the edge of the mat. He followed it up quickly with a takedown to push his lead to 6-0. In the second period, Headlee scored two more takedowns with an ankle pick and a low double to defeat the Colombian World Team member.
In one of the most entertaining matches of the night, Mitch Finesilver scored a come-behind victory over Kennedy Monday, 13-11. Monday scored the first three takedowns in the match, taking a 6-0 lead. Finesilver stormed back to cut the lead to 6-5. Monday extended his lead, with a big feet-to-back throw off a Finesilver shot, going up 10-5. However Finesilver kept coming, eventually cutting the deficit to one point. Trailing,11-10, Finesilver scored a go-behind at the buzzer. Monday’s corner attempted to challenge, but it failed and Finesilver walked away with a 13-11 win.
Joe Grello defeated Clay Lautt, 8-2, at 180 pounds. Grello was trailing, 2-0, going into the second period on two step-out points. Lautt remained on the offensive, getting deep on a single leg attempt and elevating Grello’s leg. On one leg, Grello managed to pick Lautt’s ankle, taking him to his back for four points. In the final minute, Grello added two more takedowns.
In another wild match, CJ Brucki emerged victorious over Matt Finesilver. Brucki nearly ended the match early in the first period, locking up a leg lace and rolling Finesilver across the mat to take a 10-1 lead. Finesilver scored three unanswered takedowns, cutting Brucki’s lead to 10-7. Brucki then rattled off a step-out and two takedowns, pushing the score to 15-7. He scored another takedown at the buzzer to earn the technical fall, 17-7.
Main Card Results
130 pounds Nicolas Aguilar (SKWC) TF Joe Heilmann (THWC), 10-0
200 pounds –Jordan Pagano (SKWC) DEC Max Shaw (THWC), 11-5
143 pounds –Sammy Alvarez (SKWC) TF Gabe Tagg (THWC), 10-0
143 pounds – Kamal Bekaguv (SKWC) DEC Will Guida (THWC), 9-3
165 pounds – A.C. Headlee (THWC) DEC Nestor Taffur (NYCRTC), 10-0
170 pounds – Mitch Finesilver (NYCRTC) DEC Kennedy Monday (THWC), 13-11
180 pounds – Joe Grello (SKWC) DEC Clay Lautt (THWC), 8-2
190 pounds –C.J. Brucki (NJRTC) TF Matt Finesilver (THWC), 17-7.
155 pounds – Austin O’Connor (THWC) TF Dean Heil (NMC RTC), 11-0
64 kg – Macey Kilty (THWC) DEC Emma Bruntil (McKendree), 3-0.
165 pounds – Robert Kanniard (SKWC) DEC Sawyer Davidson (THWC), 9-6
200 pounds – Billy Janzer (SKWC) TF Hunter Queen (THWC), 10-0
132 pounds – Timmy Decatur (THWC) DEC Dylan Shawver (SKWC), 6-4
160 pounds – Brett Kaliner (S.I.T) DEC Josh McClure (THWC), 12-5