NC State’s Gwiazdowski Earns Second Straight ACC Wrestler of the Year Honor

Wolfpack’s Kevin Jack, Virginia Tech’s Kevin Dresser Named ACC Freshman, Coach of the Year

GREENSBORO, N.C.—NC State junior Nick Gwiazdowski (Delanson, N.Y.), who this year became only the third wrestler in Atlantic Coast Conference history to win back-to-back NCAA national championships, was named the 2015 ACC Wrestler of the Year, the Conference announced Tuesday.

NC State true freshman Kevin Jack (Danbury, Conn.), who earned All-American honors by finishing fifth nationally in the 141-pound weight class, was voted ACC Wrestling Freshman of the Year and Virginia Tech head coach Kevin Dresser, who led the Hokies to a 10th-place national finish, was named ACC Coach of the Year.

All three awards were determined by a vote of the league’s six wrestling head coaches.

Gwiazdowski, who has won 55 consecutive matches in the 285-pound class, including a 35-0 mark this past year, captured his second straight ACC and NCAA titles this year. The redshirt junior joins Clemson’s Sammie Henson (1993-94) and North Carolina’s T.J. Jaworsky (1993-94-95), as the only wrestlers in ACC history to win back-to-back national championships.

In the NCAA Championship, Gwiazdowski won five straight matches on the way to the title, outscoring his opponents by an impressive, 45-14. Among those five wins, he defeated the 16th seed, the eighth seed, the fifth seed and finally the sixth seed in the championship bout. His 55 consecutive wins are an NC State and ACC record and will begin the 2015-16 season as the nation’s longest, current win streak. During the regular season, all five of Gwiazdowski’s ACC wins were by fall.

Gwiazdowski becomes the first repeat ACC Wrestler of the Year recipient since former Wolfpack heavyweight Sylvester Terkay captured the honor for the three straight years (1991-92-93). Three NC State wrestlers have been named ACC Wrestler of the Year a total of seven times. (Darrion Caldwell, 2007 and 2009).

“This caps off an outstanding season for Nick,” said NC State head coach Pat Popolizio. “Winning back-to-back NCAA titles, and now a second straight ACC Wrestler of the Year award, is truly an honor."

NC State’s Jack posted a 31-9 individual record on the season. Originally slated to redshirt this year, he entered the Wolfpack lineup due to an illness to a starter and was 3-0 in dual matches. He finished fourth in the ACC Tournament at 141 pounds and entered the NCAA Tournament unseeded. But once in the field in St. Louis, he made a name for himself nationally, defeating the fifth, 12th and fourth-seeded wrestlers to reach the semifinals, including claiming a win over Virginia Tech All-American and 2014 national runner-up Devin Carter of Virginia Tech. Jack then scored his fourth upset of the Championship, downing the 11th-seed in the consolations to gain fifth place.

The 31 wins are a record for an NC State freshman.

Jack becomes the third Wolfpack wrestler to win ACC Wrestling Freshman of the Year honors in the award’s 12-year history.

“There were a lot of great freshmen in our conference, and for Kevin to receive this honor is very

rewarding,” said Popolizio, whose NC State team finished 16th nationally. “We are excited about the growth and development we will see out of him over the next three years.      

“This is the reflection of a lot of hard work and dedication from both Nick and Kevin. We are very grateful to receive both of these awards, as this is one of the premier conferences in the country.”

Dresser was named the ACC’s Wrestling Coach of the Year for the third straight time after guiding the Hokies to an ACC-best 10th-place national finish, their third straight Top 10 finish at the NCAA Championships. Tech also won the regular season ACC title with a perfect 5-0 dual match record in the ACC, but finished third in the ACC Championship.

Additionally, four of his wrestlers—Carter (Christiansburg, Va.), who finished third at 141 pounds; redshirt junior Nick Brascetta (St. Paris, Ohio), who finished fourth at 157 pounds; sophomore Zach Epperly (Christiansburg, Va.), who placed seventh at 174 pounds; and redshirt sophomore Ty Walz (Cleveland, Ohio), who finished seventh at 285—earned All-American honors.

Dresser also guided Tech to a dual-match win over eventual national champion Ohio State, as the Hokies downed the then fourth-ranked Buckeyes, 19-18, in Blacksburg last Nov. 23.

Dresser becomes the first coach to win three straight ACC Wrestling Coach of the Year honors since North Carolina’s Bill Lam won four straight from 1997 through 2000. He is also only the second coach in league history to win the honor three consecutive times.

 “I am honored to be recognized by my peers to receive this award again especially in a year when the ACC made big strides as a conference,” said Dresser.

 “I was very impressed by the entire conference.  It takes a lot of great people to make a great program and that is our goal each year.  I feel it is only fitting to share this award throughout the department and especially with my immediate staff.  Coaches (Tony) Robie, (David) Hoffman, (Jeremy) Johnson, and our trainer, Sean Collins, deserve to share this award most!  I appreciate them so much.  Lastly, I want to thank the athletes on this team, they are overachievers. The future is very bright at Virginia Tech.”

Year ACC Wrestler of the Year ACC Freshman of the Year ACC Coach of the Year
1986     Bill Lam, North Carolina
1987     Bill Lam, North Carolina
1988     Bob Guzzo, NC State
1989     Bob Guzzo, NC State
1990     John McHugh, Maryland
1991 Sylvester Terkay, NC State   Bob Guzzo, NC State
1992 Sylvester Terkay, NC State   Bill Lam, North Carolina
1993 Sylvester Terkay, NC State   John McHugh, Maryland
1994 Sam Henson, Clemson   Bill Lam, North Carolina
1995 T.J. Jaworsky, North Carolina   Bill Lam, North Carolina
1996 Justin Harty, North Carolina   Bob Guzzo, NC State
1997 Jim Guzzio, Maryland   Bill Lam, North Carolina
1998 Chuckie Connor, North Carolina   Bill Lam, North Carolina
1999 Mat Roth, Virginia   Bill Lam, North Carolina
2000 Steve Garland, Virginia   Bill Lam, North Carolina
2001 John Mark Bentley, North Carolina   Bob Guzzo, NC State
2002 Chris Rodrigues, North Carolina   Bob Guzzo, NC State
2003 Evan Sola, North Carolina   Bill Lam, North Carolina
2004 Scoot Moore, Virginia   Clar Anderson, Duke
2005 Evan Sola, North Carolina Kody Hamrah, NC State C.D. Mock, North Carolina
2006 Mike Faust, Virginia Tech Eric Albright, Virginia C.D. Mock, North Carolina
2007 Darrion Caldwell, NC State Darrion Caldwell, NC State Carter Jordan, NC State
2008 Hudson Taylor, Maryland Chris Henrich, Virginia Pat Santoro, Maryland
2009 Darrion Caldwell, NC State Jarrod Garnett, Virginia Tech Kerry McCoy, Maryland
2010 Hudson Taylor, Maryland Brian Stephens, Virginia Tech Steve Garland, Virginia
2011 Josh Asper, Maryland Spencer Myers, Maryland Kerry McCoy, Maryland
    Devin Carter, Virginia Tech
2012 Devin Carter, Virginia Tech Nick Brascetta, Virginia Tech Kerry McCoy, Maryland
2013 Pete Yates, Virginia Tech Nathan Kraisser, N. Carolina Kevin Dresser, Virginia Tech
2014 Nick Gwiazdowski, NC State Joey Dance, Virginia Tech Kevin Dresser, Virginia Tech
2015 Nick Gwiazdowski, NC State Kevin Jack, NC State Kevin Dresser, Virginia Tech