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NC State heavyweight becomes first wrestler in school history with two national titles
ST. LOUIS, MO. (GoPack.com) - An escape point with 17 seconds left gave NC State redshirt junior Nick Gwiazdowski his second straight NCAA Championship. Entering as the #1 seed this year, Gwiazdowski defended his heavyweight title with a 6-5 win over Michigan's Adam Coon in the finals of the 2015 NCAA Championships Saturday night.
Gwiazdowski becomes the first wrestler in school history to win multiple NCAA titles, and only the third ACC wrestler all-time to do so, and the first since 1995. He brings NC State its seventh national wrestling championship, and its fourth at heavyweight.
Going 5-0 enroute to the title, Gwiazdowski outscored his opponents an incredible 45-14. Among those five wins, he defeated the #16 seed, #8 seed, #5 seed and then the #6 seed in the championship bout.
"This was an amazing accomplishment for Nick," said head coach Pat Popolizio. "Defending his national title shows his dedication and desire to be the best in the country. Anytime you are defending the national title there is a lot of pressure and he kept his composure and confidence through it all.
Gwiazdowski was once again looking for his offense the entire championship bout. He scored takedowns in both the first and the second periods to go up 4-3 into the third. Starting in the down position, Gwiazdowski scored a reversal and took a 6-3 lead. But Coon scored an escape and then a takedown in the final 30 seconds to even things up 5-5. But it was Gwiazdowski's escape with 17 seconds left that brought home his second national championship.
"I knew it was going to be a war," said Gwiazdowski. "It was not going to be easy. You look at his matches, he doesn't stop. So I went in there with a mentality of you're going to have to kill somebody or you're going to get killed."
He is the seventh NC State wrestler to earn All-American honors in back-to-back years, Darrion Caldwell was the last in 2008-09. In addition to his second straight title, Gwiazdowski is now a three-time All-American, he placed eight his freshman year at Binghamton.
Gwiazdowski claimed the ACC's 17th individual national championship in wrestling. Gwiazdowski's pair of titles along with the Caldwell's in 2009 give NC State the last thee for the conference, and the last time the ACC had a wrestler win a national title that wasn't from NC State was 1995 (UNC).
Gwiazdowski finished 2014-15 with a perfect 35-0 record. He now holds the school record with 55 straight wins dating back to last year, and will enter next year with the nation's longest winning streak.
In addition to Gwiazdowski's podium performance, Pack freshman Kevin Jack also earned All-American honors as he placed fifth at 141 pounds. Starting as an unseeded wrestler, Jack used three upsets to reach the NCAA semifinals last night and then a 3-0 upset of the #11 seed today.
The Pack duo is the first pair of All-Americans in the same year for NC State since 1993.
Redshirt senior Tyler Wilps' bid for a national title came up seconds short when his opponent, Matt Brown of Penn State, was awarded two points in the final 10 seconds, handing Wilps his only loss of the 2015 NCAA Wrestling Championships in the 174-pound finals on Saturday, March 21 at Scottrade Center.
It was a controversial and thrilling finish as Brown, seeded second, took a 3-1 lead with a minute remaining in the third period following an escape and takedown. Wilps was able to escape from Brown's grasp with 36 seconds to go and scored the go-ahead takedown with 22 seconds left for a 4-3 lead.
Conference Has All-Time High of 10 Wrestlers Earn All-American Honors
GREENSBORO, N.C.—Defending national champion Nick Gwiazdowski of NC State and ACC Championship Most Valuable Wrestler Tyler Wilps of Pitt will compete for national championships in their respective weight classes this evening at the 2015 NCAA Wrestling Championship at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.
The Championship matches begin this evening at 8 p.m. (ET). Wilps, a redshirt senior from Oakdale, Pa., and the eighth seed in the tournament at 174 pounds will face the No. 2 seed in Matthew Brown of Penn State. The 174-pound match will be the fourth match of the evening as the Championships will begin with the 149 pound match.
Gwiazdowski, a junior from Delanson, N.Y., and the number one seed in the tournament at 285 pounds, will face Michigan’s Adam Coon the sixth-seed in the weight class. Gwiazdowski currently has won 52 consecutive matches, including a perfect 38-0 mark this year.
Heading into tonight’s Championship round, Virginia Tech leads all ACC schools and is in 10th place with 56.0 points, followed by NC State (17th, 30.0 points), Virginia (18th, 26.5), Pitt (21st, 23.0), North Carolina (24th, 18.0) and Duke (28th, 14.0). Depending on how Gwiazdowski and Wilps do in the finals, only NC State and Pitt can improve their national team finish.
The ACC’s six wrestling programs have combined to produce a league-high 10 ACC wrestlers who have earned All-American honors in this year’s Championship that betters by one the conference’s previous all-time high of nine that was set last year when it was a seven- team wrestling league.
Four Virginia Tech wrestlers earned All-American honors as redshirt senior Devin Carter (Christiansburg, Va.), the fourth seed, finished third at 141 pounds; unseeded redshirt junior Nick Brascetta (St. Paris, Ohio) finished fourth at 157 pounds; seventh-seeded sophomore Zach Epperly (Christiansburg, Va.) placed seventh at 174 pounds; and 10th-seeded Ty Walz finished seventh at 285.
Two NC State wrestlers earned All-America honors in Gwiazsdowski and unseeded freshman Kevin Jack (Danbury, Conn.) finished fifth at 141 pounds.
Duke, North Carolina, Pitt and Virginia each had one wrestler earned All-America honors.
Redshirt junior Conner Hartmann (Port Orchard, Wash.) of Duke, the Championship’s 10th seed at 197 pounds, repeated as an All-American.
Redshirt freshman Ethan Ramos (Hawthorne, N.J.) of North Carolina, the 16th-seed, finished sixth at 165 pounds. Ramos lost to Virginia senior Nick Sulzer (Cleveland, Ohio) in the fifth-place match, 4-0, as Sulzer, the tournament’s fourth seed, claimed his second straight All-America citation.
Wilps of Pitt, who will compete this evening for the national title, captured his second straight All-America honor.
Carter of Virginia Tech and Sulzer of Virginia became the 10th and 11th ACC wrestlers to become three-time All-Americans. Brascetta, Hartmann, Wilps and Gwiazdowski all earned their second All-American citations.