A Pair of Top-20 Matches and ESPN3 Highlight Weekend Wrestling

Third-Ranked NC State Faces Tough Road Test at No. 11 Nebraska (Team rankings refer to NWCA national poll; individual rankings are from InterMat)

With one month remaining before the Atlantic Coast Conference hosts its 62nd Annual Wrestling Championship in Charlottesville, Va., all six ACC schools face big weekends of action.

In Pittsburgh, Pa., Virginia Tech, coached by Kevin Dresser and ranked 10th nationally, faces 17th-ranked Pitt at Fitzgerald Fieldhouse this Friday night in a 7 p.m. game that will be streamed live over ESPN3.

Link for the telecast: http://es.pn/1SnyAkY

The Panthers of Coach Jason Peters are currently in third-place in the league and trail the Hokies by one game for second-place behind unbeaten NC State.

Pitt’s upset hopes will center around the performances of Mikey Racciato, ranked fifth nationally at 141 pounds; Dom Forys, ranked 18th nationally at 133 pounds; TeShan Campbell, unranked at 174 pounds but 2-0 in ACC dual matches to date; Cody Wiercioch at 165 pounds and Nick Bonaccorsi at 197.

Virginia Tech counters with a powerful lineup that, when healthy, includes eight nationally-ranked wrestlers in Joey Dance (3rd at 125), Solomon Chishko (10th at 141), Nick Brascetta (4th at 157), David McFadden (11th at 165), Zach Epperly (3rd at 174), Zack Zavatsky (14th at 184), Jared Haught (7th at 197) and Ty Walz (3rd at 285).

Of late, Tech has also received strong contributions from Sal Mastriani at 149 and versatile Austin Gabel, who has ACC wins at 184 and 197.

A win by Tech would set up a match for the regular season ACC title with unbeaten and third ranked NC State on Feb. 12 in Raleigh.

No. 18 Virginia Looks for First ACC Win; Hosts Duke and #14 North Carolina

Virginia, ranked 18th nationally by the NWCA poll, faces a big weekend, hosting Duke Friday night at 7 p.m. and then No. 14 North Carolina on Saturday at 1 p.m., with both matches being played at UVA’s Memorial Gym.

All three teams are looking for their first ACC dual match wins of the year. Virginia, the defending ACC champion, is led by junior George DiCamillo, who is ranked sixth nationally at 133, and senior Zach Nye, who is ranked 10th nationally. Coached by Steve Garland, UVA also looks to senior Nick Herrmann at 125 and sophomore Andrew Atkinson at 157 for production.

Duke, which is not ranked in the NWCA poll, but is tied for 24th nationally in the InterMat Tournament rankings, has won three of its last four matches, all against non-conference foes. The Blue Devils of coach Glen Lanham are led by senior Conner Hartmann, who is ranked fifth nationally at 197; sophomore Mitch Finesilver, who is ranked 10th nationally at 149 pounds and freshman Zach Finesilver at 141.

North Carolina, coached by first-year head coach Coleman Scott, features a strong lineup led by Ethan Ramos (No. 2 nationally at 174), Evan Henderson (No. 6 at 149); John Staudenmmeyer (No. 10 at 165); Joey Ward (No. 11 at 141) and Alex Utley (No. 19 at 184).

NC State Travels to No. 11 Nebraska for ACC-Big Ten Non-Conference Clash

NC State, ranked third nationally with a lineup that includes two-time national champion Nick Gwiazdowski, travels to Lincoln, Nebraska, this week for a Saturday (8 p.m.) match with the 11th-ranked Cornhuskers in the Devaney Center.
The match will be available on BTN Plus, which requires a paid subscription.

Nebraska, coached by veteran Mark Manning, features a lineup composed of 10 nationally-ranked wrestlers, led by senior Jake Sueflohn, who is fifth nationally at 165, junior Tim Lambert, ranked 9th at 125 and junior T.J. Dudley, who is 10th at 184.

The Wolfpack of coach Pat Popolizio has already set a school record for wins in a season with 20 and is one of only three undefeated teams remaining in the nation (#1 Penn State and #2 Iowa are the others).

Gwiazdowski is ranked No. 1 nationally and has won 76 consecutive matches, the longest current streak in the nation. Gwiazdowski will face a rematch this year with Nebraska’s Collin Jensen, who is ranked 18th nationally. Gwiazdowski defeated Jensen 11-3 in the quarterfinals of the Midlands Class on Dec. 29.

State features a lineup of six nationally ranked wrestlers, including sophomore Kevin Jack, who is third nationally at 141. Jack will likely face 19th-ranked Anthony Abidin of Nebraska.

Other nationally-ranked State wrestlers include Thomas Gantt, ranked fifth at 157; Max Rohskopf, ranked fourth at 165; Pete Renda, ranked 18th at 184; and Michael Boykin, ranked 15th at 197.

Three key matches to watch include the 165-pound match, where Rohskopf will face Sueflohn in a matchup of top five wrestlers; and the 184-pound match, where Renda will face Dudley in a rematch of their bout in the Midlands Classic. Dudley managed a 6-5 win over Renda on Dec. 29 in the Midlands’ quarterfinals. The 197-pound match could also be significant as Boykin, a sophomore who is ranked 16th nationally, will be facing Nebraska junior Aaron Studebaker, who is ranked 14th nationally.

Pitt, Virginia Tech Face A Sunday of Non-Conference Tests

The 17th-ranked Pitt Panthers and the 10th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies face a pair of non-conference foes this Sunday when Pitt hosts Big 12 rival West Virginia in a 1 p.m. dual match at Fitzgerald Fieldhouse, while the Hokies travel to face Edinboro in a 1 p.m. match at McComb Fieldhouse in Edinboro, Pa.

The Mountaineers will be facing their third ACC foe of the year in their match at Pitt. Led by
junior Jake Smith, who is ranked ninth nationally at 197; sophomore Zeke Moisey, who is ranked 13th at 125; and junior Dylan Cottrell, who is ranked 16th nationally at 157, West Virginia dropped a 32-3 decision at Virginia Tech on Jan. 29 and a 24-9 contest at home to NC State last Sunday.

Edinboro, coached by 18-year veteran Tim Flynn, is led by a trio of ranked wrestlers in senior Vic Avery, who is ranked second nationally at 197 pounds; freshman Pat Lugo, who is ranked 14th nationally at 125; and junior Austin Matthews, who is rated 15th nationally at 157 pounds. The Fighting Scotts of the Eastern Wrestling League have dropped dual matches to four ACC foes this year, losing to Duke (30-15), North Carolina (26-11) and NC State (31-6) in the Pitt Duals; and at Pitt on Dec. 10.

Gwiazdowski Leads Three ACC Wrestlers in NCAA Falls Top 10; Pyke in Technical Fall Top 10

NC State senior heavyweight Nick Gwiazdowski leads three ACC wrestlers in the Top 10 of the NCAA’s Falls statistics in the third weekly rankings of the year.

Gwiazdowski, who has won 76 consecutive matches, ranks fourth nationally with eight falls to his credit in an aggregate time of 18:43.

North Carolina’s Evan Henderson, ranked sixth nationally at 149 pounds, ranks seventh nationally in falls with seven in an aggregate time of 14:25.
Pitt’s Nick Bonaccorsi also has seven falls at 197 pounds in a total time of 18:36 to place 10th nationally.

NC State 157-pounder Chad Pyke has five technical falls on the year and ranks seventh in that category with an aggregate time of 28:01.