The Pack (4-0, 2-0) returned to Reynolds on Friday evening to face a stiff challenge in the 12th-ranked Pitt Panthers (3-1, 1-1). NC State didn’t always make it look easy, but they showed the separation of being top-15 vs. being top-5 in the country. We took 8 of 10 bouts, with two coming by bonus points, and cruised to a 27-6 victory.
Another week, another Jakob Camacho bonus point victory to kick-off the dual. This time, he turned it on late to take the 13-5 major decision over Camacho of Pitt. Jakob didn’t really seem to have that killer instinct early - a theme we would see amongst Pack wrestlers until 157 - that could have pushed this to a more dominant victory. But three 3rd period takedowns were enough to get the four team points.
At 133, we saw our first of four ranked matchups. And we also saw our first big lineup decision of the night, as Coach Pop decided to go back to Jarrett Trombley. Trombley took on two-time reigning ACC Champ and #5 in the country, Micky Phillippi. Trombley was able to make it his kind of match, where he slows it down and tries to control the handfighting. Unfortunately, he still wasn’t able to summon the offense to take this one, and fell 4-2. He didn’t make it easy for Phillippi, but there was never really a point in the match where he looked like he was going to win it. A late reversal made the score look closer than it was. If he wants to close the gap on the top guys at this weight, we’re going to have to see him open up a little more on offense.
Next up was Tariq vs. Cole Matthews at 141. These two are super familiar with each other having met three times last season. Tariq was victorious in each of those meetings, and he continued that on Friday with a razor-thin 7-5 decision in tiebreakers. Tariq was up late, but gave up a stall point and a late throw to send this thing to overtime. After one minute without a point scored, they went to the 30-second ride-outs. A reversal ended up being enough to squeak this one out. I guess these guys are destined to wrestle super close matches until the end of time.
I won’t delve too deep into the 149 bout, because it will just get me annoyed, but freshman Ed Scott fell 3-2 to Luke Kemerer in a bizarre clash. Somehow the official allowed Kemerer to be walked all over the mat and hang out in a collar tie with pretty much zero genuine attacks before finally hitting him for stalling in the third period. It was clear that Pitt’s intentions were to keep this thing close until late and try to steal it, and that’s exactly what they did. A different official and this one probably isn’t that close, but Scott tried to force the upper body lock late and ended up surrendering the winning takedown with less than 20 seconds on the clock.
Four bouts down, and all of our guys looked flat to this point. We held the 7-6 lead but there was a foreboding feeling that if we continued this way, a tough Pitt team may just make a run and steal the dual like they had in 2019. We needed someone to step up, and there’s nobody you’d rather have coming to the mat next than Double H. He showed why with a 19-2 tech fall in the 2nd period. From there, the Pack would not lose another match, and I think that is due in part to our captain stepping up and sending a message when the team needed it.
At 165, we saw perhaps the marquee match of the night with #14 Thomas Bullard taking on #6 Jake Wentzel. Thomas was able to put aside the pressure of his 1-2 start to the season, and ended up knocking off the returning ACC Champ by a score of 4-3. Bullard looked better, and even showed more aggressiveness from his feet. If we see Thomas opening up like he did last night, I still think he can place at this weight.
165 | Top-10 Win!!!— NC State Wrestling ♂️ (@PackWrestle) January 23, 2021
#17 Thomas Bullard scores a takedown in the second and opens third with a reversal for a 4-3 win over #7 Wentzel!#PackMentality // #DoubleDown@PackWrestle 15 | Pitt 6 pic.twitter.com/YVdsizFdKM
Daniel Bullard and Trent Hidlay kept things rolling in the next two bouts with dominant decision victories to push the team score to 21-6.
In a dual that was mathematically over, and had several storylines already, I don’t think anyone expected what would happen next. Rather than sending out Nick Reenan to build off his encouraging perfromance last week, the coaching staff rolled out true freshman, Isaac Trumble, to take on the #5 197-pounder in the country, Nino Bonaccorsi. At first this looked to be a strategic move to protect Reenan in an essentially meaningless match, in context of the dual. But the freshman showed early on that this may have been a brilliant decision in unleashing a sleeping giant. Bonaccorsi was in on Trumble’s legs early and often in this match, but could not for the life of him finish for 2. Trumble’s hips and pressure defending the takedown attempts would have left me impressed even if he’d gone on to lose the bout. But Isaac had no intentions of losing anything on this night - he used a 2nd period ride-out and set of four back points to win, 6-1. By the time the final buzzer rang, Isaac was the talk of the wrestling world.
This summer Adam Hall told me some characteristics about Trumble's work ethic that had him and the Wolfpack coaching staff feeling very confident he could make an impact right away— The Wrestling Nomad (@wrestlingnomad) January 23, 2021
This showing has created more drama surrounding another one of the Pack’s lineup spots. Who the staff moves forward with at 197 will certainly be something to watch in the coming weeks. It appears this decision wasn’t a matter of health, as Reenan wrestled one of the “extra” matches after the dual (he won). It may just be that Trumble is the better guy. Maybe Coach Pop will give us some insight into the decision on his next podcast, but for now we have a good problem at 197.
At heavyweight, Deonte Wilson once again closed out the dual with a controlling 6-1 victory. Not much more to say, he wrestled his type of match. Stingy on his feet, high pace, and a tough, controlling ride from the top position. This is Deonte’s recipe with which he has realized his success.
#4 NC State 27-6 #12 Pittsburgh
- 125: #2 Jakob Camacho (NCSU) major dec. Colton Camacho (Pitt); 13-5 (4-0 NCSU)
- 133: #5 Micky Phillippi (Pitt) dec. #16 Jarrett Trombley (NCSU); 4-2 (4-3 NCSU)
- 141: #11 Tariq Wilson (NCSU) dec. #16 Cole Matthews (Pitt); 7-5 TB1 (7-3 NCSU)
- 149: Luke Kemerer (Pitt) dec. Ed Scott (NCSU); 3-2 (7-6 NCSU)
- 157: #2 Hayden Hidlay (NCSU) tech fall Tyler Badgett (Pitt); 19-2 (12-6 NCSU)
- 165: #14 Thomas Bullard (NCSU) dec. #6 Jake Wentzel (Pitt); 4-3 (15-6 NCSU)
- 174: #13 Daniel Bullard (NCSU) dec. Jared McGill (Pitt); 6-0 (18-6 NCSU)
- 184: #3 Trent Hidlay (NCSU) dec. #19 Gregg Harvey (Pitt); 11-4 (21-6 NCSU)
- 197: Isaac Trumble (NCSU) dec. #5 Nino Bonaccorsi (Pitt); 6-1 (24-6 NCSU)
- 285: #17 Deonte Wilson (NCSU) dec. Jacob Slinger (Pitt); 6-1 (27-6 NCSU)
While it started off sluggish, it ended with a bang. NC State won the final six bouts of the dual, which included two top-10 upsets, and ended up rolling to a dominant 27-6 victory over the #12 team in the country. That’s impressive. But there’s no time to celebrate - next week is #14 UNC and you know they’ll be ready after what happened last year. Be on the lookout for that preview, coming next week. Go Pack!