Nick Gwiazdowski became NC State's first back-to-back wrestling national champion with a 7-6 win over Michigan's Adam Coon Saturday. Freshman Kevin Jack joined the heavyweight as an All American by placing fifth at 141 pounds. The duo of All Americans, State's first pair to earn the honor in the same season since 1993, helped the Pack finish 16th in team scoring.
Gwiazdowski's strategy against Coon was to use his quickness against the taller, heavier opponent. The junior heavyweight took the Wolverine down twice to build an early lead, but rather than going for the pin after the takedowns he seemed to just let his opponent up for the opportunity to score more takedowns. Of course an escape is worth a point, so Coon crept closer every time he got up and finally scored a takedown of his own late in the third period to knot the match at 6-6. Coon couldn't keep Gwiazdowski down, however, and the State grappler's escape with 17 seconds left was enough to secure the victory.
After outscoring his opponents 45-14 in five national championship bouts, Gwiazdowski has won a school record 55 contests in a row.
Jack was stopped by Logan Stieber on the Buckeye's run to a fourth consecutive national championship, but the Pack's 141-pounder knocked off three seeded opponents. Jack finished his freshman campaign 30-9; the 30 wins are a freshman record.
With Gwiazdowski and Jack both returning to a team that finished 16th in the NCAAs and 17th in duals rankings, the future looks bright for the Pack and coach Pat Popolizio.