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#3 PackWrestle: New Rankings & UNC Preview

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Junior heavyweight, Deonte Wilson, flexes after icing 2020 UNC dual
Photo courtesy of Brian Reinhardt / NCSU Athletics

New Rankings

Following another hot start to the season and thoroughly dominating #12 Pitt last weekend, NC State (4-0, 2-0) has moved up to #3 in the latest NWCA Coaches Poll. They have leapfrogged defending National Champions Penn State in the process, who have yet to wrestle this season and drop to #4 after two weeks of postponements.

FloWrestling has also updated individual rankings following last week’s action. See where our guys check-in below:

  • 125 - Camacho #2 (previous: 2)
  • 133 - Trombley #13 (16)
  • 141 - T. Wilson #11 (11)
  • 157 - H. Hidlay #2 (2)
  • 165 - T. Bullard #11 (14)
  • 174 - D. Bullard #15 (13)
  • 184 - T. Hidlay #3 (3)
  • 197 - Trumble #13 (NR)
  • 285 - D. Wilson #17 (17)

Trombley gets a bump - even following his loss to Phillippi - due to inactivity and bad losses by some of the guys ahead of him. Thomas Bullard gets the trend going back upward after his big win over Wentzel. And Isaac Trumble makes his rankings debut, along with winning pretty much every “of the week” award you can, following his massive top-5 win over Bonaccorsi.

UNC Dual

How to Watch: ACC Network

Wrestling Rules & Scoring

For the second straight Friday, the Pack will take on top-15 ACC competition. North Carolina (2-0, 1-0) clock-in at #14 and they will have to earn that ranking this weekend. Their dual with #8 Virginia Tech, originally scheduled for January 15th, was postponed due to “Covid-related protocols” in the UNC program, and is now taking place this Saturday at 3PM. Top-10 duals in consecutive days for the Heels.

We dispatched of 12th-ranked Pitt last week, so you would think we should be able to handle this 14th-ranked UNC team just as easily. However, I don’t think that will be the case. Carolina’s squad is deeper than Pitt’s and they matchup with us a little bit better. Plus, after what happened in Reynolds last year, you know Coleman Scott has this one circled on his calendar. As much as it pains me to say, I expect this one to be pretty close again. The Pack have owned this rivalry lately, winning the last seven meetings, but if we want to make it eight in a row over the Heels, we will need to tough-out some close matches and win the bonus point battle. Carolina was missing several key starters in last week’s win over Duke - presumably due to contact tracing or positive tests - but I expect they will be as full strength as possible for Friday. See below for projected lineups and my predictions:

  • 125: #2 Jakob Camacho vs. Julian Tagg or Joey Melendez (Camacho decision; 3-0 NCSU)
  • 133: #13 Jarrett Trombley vs. #12 Jaime Hernandez or Gabe Tagg (Hernandez decision; 3-3)
  • 141: #11 Tariq Wilson vs. #10 Zach Sherman (Wilson decision; 6-3 NCSU)
  • 149: Ed Scott vs. #2 Austin O’Connor (O’Connor decision; 6-6)
  • 157: #2 Hayden Hidlay vs. Josh McClure (Hidlay major; 10-6 NCSU)
  • 165: #11 Thomas Bullard vs. #14 Kennedy Monday (Monday decision; 10-9 NCSU)
  • 174: #15 Daniel Bullard vs. #8 Devin Kane (Bullard decision; 13-9 NCSU)
  • 184: #3 Trent Hidlay vs. #15 Clay Lautt (Hidlay major; 17-9 NCSU)
  • 197: #13 Isaac Trumble or Nick Reenan vs. Max Shaw (Trumble decision; 20-9 NCSU)
  • 285: #17 Deonte Wilson vs. #22 Andrew Gunning (Wilson decision; 23-9 NCSU)

There are multiple toss-up matches in this dual - 133, 141, 165, 174, & 285. Carolina probably needs four of those in order to pull the upset. If the Pack can make it to the 174 bout with a lead or tied (assuming the dual starts at 125), I think our advantage at the upperweights will pull us through.

Key Matchups

#11 Tariq Wilson vs. #10 Zach Sherman

These two are very familiar - they have met five times in the course of their careers, and Tariq has won four of those. Sherman’s only win in this series came in last year’s ACC final under controversial circumstances. I’m not sure how that gets him ranked ahead of Tariq when he literally was o-fer, but I digress. Friday is Tariq’s chance to right that wrong, and I think he does. Sherman has not shown that he can stop an attacking Wilson, so if that version of Tariq shows up, he should notch another ranked win on his belt.

#11 Thomas Bullard vs. #14 Kennedy Monday

This was the matchup that really created the drama and closeness of last year’s dual meet. Bullard ended up sitting out the dual - whether that was injury-related or a coach’s decision is still unclear - and Monday proceeded to tech fall our backup, Tyler Barnes. Those five team points put us in real trouble, so I doubt we see another move like that. Bullard will hope to build on last week’s win over Wentzel, but Kennedy is a different animal. He is explosive and has immense talent, his only knock is that his conditioning can sometimes be iffy. If Thomas can weather the storm, get into some energy-consuming scrambles, and keep it close going into the third period he will have a very good chance of taking this match. If Monday finds his way to a takedown within the first minute, this could be a long night for Thomas.

#15 Daniel Bullard vs. #8 Devin Kane

Another matchup where I’m really not sure how we’re the lower-ranked guy. These two have met twice - both back in 2019, and both bonus point victories for Daniel Bullard. Kane sat out last season with an injury, but the last we saw of him he was the #33 seed (out of 33) at NCAAs and went on a Cinderella run to make the Blood Round (top-12 - one win shy of All-American honors). This is pretty much the extent of Kane’s resume, to be honest, and for that reason I’m definitely taking Daniel here. He could even push this into bonus territory. In each of their previous meetings, Kane struggled to cope with Bullard’s top-game. I think that will be a big factor again.

This is yet another victim of the pandemic’s wrath - there surely would have been a good crowd at this dual under normal circumstances, especially considering what last year has done to amplify this rivalry. Regardless, we will be on ACC Network once again at 6PM. Be sure you’ve got all of your chores done before then. This is can’t miss. Go Pack and GTHC!