Gardner-Webb wrestles with the concept of negative numbers

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Gardner-Webb men’s wrestling had a very 2021 dual against Virginia.
Gardner-Webb men’s wrestling had a very 2021 dual against Virginia.
Image: AP

What we’re learning so far in 2021 is that when you think things are as bad as they possibly could be, you’re wrong, because there’s always a way that it could be worse.

For instance, in the NCAA’s guide to wrestling scoring, all the various ways that a team can score are listed. Three points for a decision, four points for a major decision, five points for a technical fall or disqualification, and six points for a forfeit, medical forfeit, injury default, or pin.

Pretty simple, right? Each match starts with a 0-0 score, so the worst that you can do is get shut out… right?


You already know that’s wrong, because the whole premise here is that things can always be worse, and also you already read the headline “Gardner-Webb wrestles with the concept of negative numbers.”

Last week, Gardner-Webb opened its season at home with a dual meet against N.C. State and lost, 42-0. That’s a bad loss — a clean sweep with two falls, a technical fall, and four major decisions on top of three regular decisions.


On Saturday at Virginia, the Runnin’ Bulldogs did worse than if they hadn’t shown up at all, losing, 44-(-1).

Forty-four to negative-one.

The dual already was at a point where Virginia had it wrapped up, leading 28-0 with four bouts to go. Even if Gardner-Webb could manage four straight pins, it would still be a 28-24 final. And had Gardner-Webb simply walked out of the gym right then, well…


During Vic Marelli’s major decision over Sam Mora at 174 pounds, Gardner-Webb was hit with a one-point team score deduction for bench conduct. The Cavaliers continued their romp and ran up a 45-point margin of victory despite “only” scoring 44 points.

Because this is 2021, yes, it can still get worse. Instead of heading straight home, Gardner-Webb has a stopover in Chapel Hill, and another dual meet on Sunday afternoon against North Carolina.


On the plus side… or is it on the neutral side, all the Bulldogs have to do to improve on Saturday’s showing is not score any points at all.