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Most Ever For League To Finish In The Top 25 Nationally; NC State’s Nick Gwiazdowski Captures Heavyweight National Championship; Virginia Tech’s Devin Carter, Maryland’s Jimmy Sheptock Are National Runners-Up; League-Best Nine ACC Wrestlers Earn All-America Honors
GREENSBORO, NC— For the first time in its history, the Atlantic Coast Conference had six teams place 25th or better in the NCAA Wrestling Championships, which were held this past weekend in Oklahoma City, Okla. ACC schools were led by Virginia Tech which earned a program-best eighth place finish with a total of 49 points.
Joining the Hokies were NC State (19th), Maryland (20th), Pitt (22nd), Virginia (23rd) and North Carolina (tied for 25th). The previous best for the conference was three teams in the Top 25 accomplished six times, but most recently in 2013. Tech’s team finish was the highest for an ACC team since 1995 when North Carolina also placed 8th.
NC State sophomore heavyweight Nick Gwiazdowski (Delanson, N.Y.), became the 13th ACC wrestler to win a national individual title when he recorded a 4-2 decision over top seeded Tony Nelson of Minnesota to claim the 285-pound championship.
Gwiazdowski became the first ACC wrestler since 2009 (Darion Caldwell, NC State) to claim an individual national wrestling title. He is the sixth NC State wrestler to do so and the third NC State wrestler to win the heavyweight championship following in the footsteps of Tab Thacker (1984) and Sylvester Terkay (1993).
Two other ACC wrestlers—Devin Carter (Christiansburg, Va.) of Virginia Tech at 141 pounds and Jimmy Sheptock (Northhampton, Pa.) of Maryland at 184 pounds—finished in second place in their respective weight classes.
Carter, seeded fourth in the Tournament, dropped a 10-1 decision to second-seeded Logan Stieber of Oklahoma State. Carter, who missed two months of the 2014 season due to a severe hamstring injury which required surgery, had won 18 straight bouts this season before losing in the finals.
Sheptock, the top seed in the 184-pound weight class, dropped a 7-2 decision to second-seeded Ed Ruth of Penn State in the championship match. Sheptock entered the match having won 32 straight matches and finished the year at 32-1.
In all, a total nine ACC wrestlers earned All-America honors, placing eighth or better: Gwiazdowski, Carter, Sheptock, Joey Dance of Virginia Tech (125), Evan Henderson of North Carolina (141); Nick Sulzer of Virginia (165); Tyler Wilps of Pitt (174); Conner Hartmann of Duke (197) and Chris Penny of Virginia Tech (197).
Virginia Tech’s 125-pound freshman Dance (Christiansburg, Va.) rebounded from a second-round loss to win four consecutive consolation round matches before dropping a 5-1 decision to third-seeded Nicholas Megaludis of Penn State in the third-place match. Dance finished in fourth place in his first NCAA Tournament.
North Carolina junior Evan Henderson (New Florence, Pa.), joined Carter as an All-America in the 141-pound weight class. Henderson also finished in fourth place after dropping a major decision to top-seeded Mitchell Port of Edinboro State in the third-place match. Henderson, the ninth seed, earned All-America honors for the second straight year.
Virginia junior Nick Sulzer (Cleveland, Ohio) also claimed fourth place after losing in the semifinals to second-seeded Tyler Caldwell of Oklahoma State and in the third-place match to fourth-seeded Stephen Monk of North Dakota State. Sulzer, the third seed, ended the year with a 36-3 record and earned All-America honors for the second straight year.
Pitt junior Tyler Wilps (Oakdale, Pa.), the seventh seed, defeated Bryce Hammond of Cal State-Bakersfield, 4-2, to claim seventh place and earned All-America honors. Wilps finished the year with a 32-7 overall record to become the 75th wrestling All-America in Panther history.
Duke sophomore 197-pounder Conner Hartmann (Port Orchard, Wash.) won by forfeit over injured Virginia Tech senior Chris Penny (Virginia Beach, Va.) to claim fifth place and All-America honors. Hartmann, who entered the Tournament unseeded, finished with a 28-11 record on the year and becomes just the second Duke Blue Devil to earn All-America honors in wrestling.
Penny, who finished with a 28-14 record, also earned All-America honors with the sixth-place finish. Penny, the 14th-seed, had reached the semifinals before dropping a close, 4-1 decision to second-seeded and eventual national champion J’Den Cox of Missouri.