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Wolfpack Hosts A Pair of Top 10 Teams in No. 8 Virginia Tech on Friday and No. 5 Missouri on Sunday (Team rankings refer to NWCA national poll; individual rankings are from InterMat)
NC State, ranked third nationally in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) weekly poll, hosts eighth-ranked Virginia Tech Friday night in a dual match that will determine the ACC regular season title.
The match will have a 7 p.m. start at the Holshouser Building on the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh and will be streamed live by GoPack.com.
State, coached by Pat Popolizio, has won 21 consecutive matches and has won all four of its ACC duals to date.
Tech, coached by Kevin Dresser, is 13-2 overall and 3-0 in the ACC, having lost only to No. 1-ranked Penn State (21-15 on Nov, 15) and No. 16 Iowa State (16-14 on Jan. 9) and has won six straight dual matches. The Hokies conclude their ACC regular season on Saturday with a 1 p.m. dual match at Duke.
A win by State clinches the ACC regular season wrestling title for the Wolfpack, while a win by the Hokies would assure them of at least a tie for regular season honors.
The ACC champion is determined by the winner of the ACC Wrestling Championship, which will be held March 6 in Charlottesville, Va., at UVA’s John Paul Jones Arena.
The Wolfpack are led by a quartet of Top 10-ranked wrestlers, led by two-time national champion Nick Gwiazdowski, who is the nation’s top-ranked wrestler at 285, but also includes Kevin Jack (3rd-ranked at 141), Thomas Gantt (5th-ranked at 157) and Max Rohskopf (ranked 4th at 165).
The Hokies feature seven wrestlers who are ranked among the nation’s Top 10 in their respective weight classes led by Joey Dance (No. 3 at 125), Solomon Chishko (No. 8 at 141), Nick Brascetta (No. 4 at 157), Zach Epperly (No. 3 at 174), Zach Zavatsky (No. 7 at 184), Jared Haught (No. 7 at 197) and Ty Walz (No. 3 at 285).
If all of the wrestlers are available for the dual, that sets up several key Top 10 matchups with Chishko facing Jack at 141 pounds, Brascetta facing Gannt at 157 and Ty Walz facing Gwiazdowski in a classic heavyweight confrontation.
NC State is 7-0 this year against ranked opponents, while Virginia Tech is 5-2 against ranked foes.
The match with the Hokies is the first of two Top 10 matches for the Wolfpack this weekend. On Sunday, NC State hosts fifth-ranked Missouri of the Mid-American Conference in a 1 p.m. dual match at the Holshouser Building.
The Tigers, coached by Brian Smith, who is in his 18th season as Missouri’s head coach, are 12-1 and have won three straight with their only loss of the year coming at the hands of fourth-ranked Oklahoma State.
Missouri features eight nationally-ranked wrestlers, including seven ranked in the Top 10, including former Virginia wrestler Blaise Butler, who transferred to Missouri after graduating from UVA. A year ago, Butler was an ACC Tournament finalist for the Cavaliers and is ranked eighth nationally at 174 pounds.
Some interesting matches in the contest include at 141 pounds where NC State’s Jack, ranked third nationally, will face Missouri’s Matt Manley, who is seventh and at 165 where NC State’s Max Rohskopf, who is fourth nationally, will be facing Missouri’s Daniel Lewis, who is ranked fifth.
ACC teams are 10-6 this year against ranked non-conference teams.
Hokies Face Duke in ACC Finale
After its Friday match against NC State, Virginia Tech will close out its ACC dual matches, facing Duke in Durham Saturday in a 1 p.m. dual. The match will be streamed live over the BDN+ Network, which requires a subscription.
Duke is coming off one of its best performnces of the year after upsetting 13th-ranked North Carolina, 21-17, Wednesday night in Chapel Hill.
Coached by Glen Lanham, Duke is led by Conner Hartmann, who is ranked fifth nationally at 197 pounds, and the twin brother tandem of Mitch Finesilver, who is 10th nationally at 149, and Zach Finesilver, who is unranked at 141 pounds.
The Blue Devils are 5-7 overall and 1-3 in the ACC, while Tech, pending its Friday night match at NC State, is 13-2 overall and 3-0 in the ACC. A win by the Hokies against State and Duke would give Tech the regular ACC title.
13th-Ranked UNC Hosts Pitt, ESPN3 to Televise the Match
North Carolina, ranked 13th this week in the NWCA poll, hosts 21st-ranked Pitt this Saturday at Carmichael Arena in the final ACC dual match of the year for the Tar Heels.
The match, which will be Seniors Night for UNC, is scheduled to be streamed live on ESPN3.
UNC, coached by first-year head coach Coleman Scott, will be looking to rebound from a Wednesday night upset loss to Duke.
The Tar Heels, 11-4 overall and 1-3 in the ACC, are led by a quintet of nationally-ranked wrestlers in second-ranked Ethan Ramos (174), fifth-ranked Evan Henderson (149), ninth-ranked John Staudenmeyer (165), 11trh-ranked Joey Ward (141) and 19th-ranked Alex Utley (184).
Pitt, ranked 21st this week in the NWCA poll, counters with a lineup led by Dom Forys, who is ranked 17th nationally at 133 and Mikey Racciato, who is ninth at 141. The Panthers are seeking to snap a four-match losing streak.
No. 19 Virginia Hosts Chattanooga
Virginia, ranked 19th this week in the NWCA national poll, steps out of conference this weekend to host Chattanooga of the Southern Conference Sunday in a 1 p.m. dual match at the Cavaliers’ Memorial Gym.
UVA, coached by Steve Garland, is 6-5 overall and 1-3 in the ACC, while Chattanooga, coached by Heath Eslinger, is 10-4 overall and 5-1 in the Southern Conference.
The Moccasins earned a No. 25 national ranking on February 2, but are unranked this week by the NWCA poll.
Chattanooga is led by heavyweight Jared Johnson, who is ranked 11th nationally.
The Cavaliers counter with a lineup that includes George DiCamillo, who is ranked sixth nationally at 133 and is 24-3 on the year, and Zach Nye, who is ranked 11th nationally at 197, and who is 21-7 overall.
Andrew Atkinson, who is 21-7 at 157 pounds, and Nick Herrmann, who is 11-5 at 125 pounds, are also important performers for UVA.
Henderson, Gwiazdowski Remain Prominent in NCAA Wrestling Statistical Rankings
North Carolina senior Evan Henderson and NC State senior Nick Gwiazdowski remain ranked in the Top Ten of this week’s NCAA Wrestlng Statistics.
Henderson, who wrestles at 149 pounds, ranks sixth in falls this week with eight in an aggregate time of 16:44. Gwiazdowski, at 285 pounds, also has eight falls, with a time of 18:43 for seventh place.
Gwiazdowski also ranks fourth in the NCAA’s Most Dominant category, with an average of 4.78 points per match.