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PackWrestle: Upperweight Preview 2022

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184-pound redshirt-sophomore, Trent Hidlay, raising the roof
Photo courtesy of Brian Reinhardt / NCSU Athletics

The NC State wrestling season kicks off this weekend with action at the Citadel Open. And as such, we will conclude our three-part preview series detailing our potential lineup for the 2021-2022 campaign. In this final edition we will focus on the Upperweights, who will look to be a strong anchor for a team that has talent and quality top-to-bottom. The previous previews can be found below.

Links: Lightweights | Middleweights

184 Pounds

Projected Starter: Trent Hidlay (R-So) | 2021 Record: 10-2 | Preseason Ranking: #3

Depth: Nick Reenan (R-Sr), Jacob Ferreira (Jr), Joey Milano (Fr)

A little bit of weight uncertainty highlighted our Middleweight preview, but this is where that uncertainty ends. Trent Hidlay will be the guy at 184. He is returning from a season in which he put together a 10-2 record, captured his first ACC Championship, and a controversial runner-up finish at NCAAs. If it weren’t for a couple of questionable calls in that final, Trent could have been a National Champion in his freshman campaign.

The Hoagie Boy is the talisman of our program, and enters his sophomore season ranked third in the country. He has all of the qualities of an elite wrestler and is quickly morphing into the PackWrestle poster boy, appropriately taking the reigns from older brother Hayden. But before that transition is complete, we will get one more season with the both of them, and they will wrestle back-to-back at 174 & 184. This should make for an electric combo in dual meets. Two bonafide stars treating each night in Reynolds like an old-school rock concert.

Well if Hayden is the drummer keeping the program on beat with his consistency over the last five years, that must make Trent the lead guitarist. And this should be another face-shredding solo. Trent carried last season’s success into the summer, where he wasn’t as active as in years past, but he has been calculated. And his 2nd and 3rd place finishes at the US Senior Nationals and US World Team Trials respectively, demonstrate that he is once again ready to jump levels. Trent’s resume now holds the names of former NCAA Champions and if he wants to reach the top of the podium this year, he’ll have to add another: Aaron Brooks. I see these two, along with Myles Amine, being the class of this weight. The margins between them are so slim, but Trent is certainly on the trajectory to bring home a title.

197 Pounds

Projected Starter: Isaac Trumble (Fr) | 2021 Record: 6-1 | Preseason Ranking: #19

Depth: Brock Delsignore (Fr)

Isaac Trumble was a footnote in last year’s preview. I viewed him as a depth guy behind Reenan who had potential but maybe wasn’t ready to jump into the starting lineup quite yet. Well on January 22nd, Isaac announced himself as more than just a footnote. The true-freshman stepped in during the Pitt dual to face #5 Nino Bonaccorsi, and proceeded to pull off a shocking upset.

This would be Bonaccorsi’s only loss up until the NCAA finals.

Trumble kicked the doors in on not only the national landscape, but also on his very own coaching staff and created a roster battle that would last until the final weeks of the season. He hijacked Reenan’s spot for much of the regular season and put together a 6-1 record, but showed a few concerning holes in his game that eventually led to a wrestle-off. Reenan won this match, which earned him the spot as our postseason representative. It doesn’t sound like that will be the case for this season. Pop has indicated, or at least strongly hinted, on several occasions that Reenan would not be at 197 this season. This tells you all you need to know - it’s Trumble’s time.

Isaac has demonstrated a trusty formula for his success: good upper-body attacks and big-move ability, strong hips that make him very difficult to take down, a reliable and controlling top game (don’t do it), and a deep gas tank. He has many ways to win, but his lack of leg attacks became an obvious detriment to his success last year. His current skillset will win him 80% of matches, but once he hits a capable opponent with a good gameplan, he can struggle. This is where we need to see the improvement from Isaac if he is to realize the clear potential he showed against Bonaccorsi. Regardless, we have a qualifier in Trumble, but developing a couple solid leg attacks will be determine if he can reach the podium this year.

285 Pounds

Projected Starter: Owen Trephan (R-Fr) | 2021 Record: 7-0 | Preseason Ranking: HM

Depth: Deonte Wilson (Jr)

The Pack returns the reigning ACC Champion at heavyweight, a guy in Deonte Wilson who put together a 10-2 record, was undefeated in ACC action, and qualified as the 10-seed at NCAAs. However, a disappointing 1-2 performance in St. Louis combined with an early season wrestle-off loss to teammate Owen Trephan could see him sitting on the bench.

Trephan and Wilson have been in closely-contested battles dating back several years now, and Owen finally got the better of Deonte last weekend. Is that enough to usurp a proven guy who has come up clutch for our program in several massive moments? Probably not yet. But you can bet the staff will have their eyes on this roster battle well into the season. For starters, they will both be registered at the Citadel Open tomorrow. So whoever places higher, especially if they meet head-to-head, will likely gain favor for the early-season duals.

This won’t be settled anytime soon, but I tend to lean towards Trephan as our guy for the ones that matter. He was a more heralded recruit (#72 on 2019 Big Board) but came in a little undersized for heavyweight, so it took him a while to adjust. But he was able to put together a 6-0 record in extra matches last year. Most importantly, I think he adds a little more offense and potential than Deonte does. In a stacked heavyweight division, we’ve pretty much seen what Deonte’s ceiling is. At a weight we’re unlikely to place in, I think Trephan offers us the best chance at valuable team points in Detroit.

That wraps up our weight-by-weight preview of the 2021-2022 NC State wrestling team. This group should be just as competitive as last season, and will look to push into the team trophies this year. We check-in at #5 in the first Coaches Poll of the season, marking the 83rd straight poll in the top-10. What a run.

If you don’t trust in me as a solid judge of our team’s potential, take a listen to the latest #PackMentality Pop-Ins Podcast below, where The Skip gives a weight-by-weight breakdown of what our roster should look like this season.

Go Pack!