Not even Pat Popolizio could've envisioned the dream season that NC State wrestling has had thus far. The Pack currently sit 3rd in the NWCA coaches poll with an astonishing 21-0 record, shattering the previous school record for dual wins in a season. But it'll take one more victory for Popolizio's men to complete their stunning undefeated run through the conference, and it may well be the toughest they've faced all season.
The Wolfpack will host 8th ranked Virginia Tech in possibly the most highly anticipated dual in NC State wrestling history. The Hokies come in sporting a 13-2 dual meet record and four wrestlers ranked in the top five nationally per Intermat. The dual will see three matchups of wrestlers ranked in the top ten with the Wolfpack favored in two of the three.
The premier matchup of the night will see top-ranked, and 2-time defending national champion at 285, Nick Gwiazdowski of NC State take on third-ranked Ty Walz of VaTech. Both wrestlers are undefeated on the season and Gwiazdowski is looking to become the first heavyweight since Carlton Haselrig in 1989 to win a third national championship. Gwiazdowski has won all four prior meetings between the two wrestlers, including two wins by fall and one by major decision. If the Wolfpack wrestler could score bonus points in the match it could go a long way in determining the outcome of the dual.
Wolfpack 157-pounder Tommy Gantt will also put his undefeated record on the line against returning All-American Nick Brascetta for VT in an interesting clash of styles. Gantt's length and varied offense has caused problems for just about everyone he's faced this year, while Brascetta is one of best wrestlers in the country at defending opposing wrestlers from getting to his legs. If Gantt can find a way to push the pace of the match and get into a few scrambles it should favor the lanky redshirt senior.
The third and final matchup of top-ten ranked wrestlers will see super sophomore Kevin Jack take the mat for the Wolfpack against Virginia Tech freshman Solomon Chishko. Jack, a returning All-American in his own right, has lost just three matches on the season including an incredible 10-8 bout to top-ranked Dean Heil of Oklahoma State. Chishko has been equally tough, however, dropping just two matches on the year and knocking off a trio of ranked wrestlers on the way to a 23-2 record. Much like his teammate Brascetta, Chishko is great at fighting off takedowns as he displayed earlier this season when he displaced then top-five ranked Jimmy Gulibon of Penn State. Jack will look to get to his offense early and control the ties in hopes of walking off the mat with a victory.
WrestleStats shows the Hokies as favorites in 6/10 bouts on the night, so the Wolfpack will likely have to pull an upset somewhere to continue their dream season. NC State currently holds the title for most consecutive dual meet wins in the country at 21, it'll take big efforts from Gwiazdowski, Gantt, Jack and co. if they want to continue to wear that crown.