One of NC State Athletics’ crown jewels is Pat Popolizio. What he has done with the wrestling program since his inauguration in April of 2012 is nothing short of outstanding. The Pack finished in 44th place at the 2012 NCAA Wrestling Championships. Since then, PackWrestle has had six Top 20 performances at “March Matness”, including a team trophy (top 4 finish) in 2018 — only the second ever occasion for an ACC school. This span of success for “The Skip” includes three individual National Champions, 12 All-American finishes, and two ACC team titles. The credentials and historic achievements go on and on with this guy; he truly has turned the program into one of the most feared non-Big Ten teams in the country.
In this three-part preview series, we will take a look at the projected 2019-2020 edition of PackWrestle that will try to keep the aforementioned success rolling.
Jakob Camacho (R-Fr)
Preseason Ranking: FloWrestling - #21 / Trackwrestling - #19 / InterMat - #12
Camacho looks to fill the void left by four-year starter Sean Fausz, who was one win away from All-America honors (a top 8 finish) at last year’s NCAAs. This is a big loss, but it makes things easier when the replacement is a Top 25 recruit. Camacho brings a premier high school pedigree with him to Raleigh - the Danbury, CT native was a three-time State Champion and won huge HS national tournaments such as Super 32 and FloNationals. Last year while taking a redshirt season to acclimate to the college level, he compiled a 26-2 record. He faced five Top 25 opponents, and won 4 of those matches so I guess you could say he adjusted pretty quickly.
Considering some of the guys he beat last year, and the landscape of the 125lb weight class this year, I fully expect Camacho to be in the hunt for an All-American finish at the national tournament. His ranking feels a little low right now - most wrestling outlets are conservative when ranking freshmen in the preseason - but he should slot in around the 8-12 range once NCAA seeds come out in March. The top 5 guys at this weight class seem pretty much locked in, but that leaves 6-8 up for grabs, and I think Camacho is among the likely candidates to secure one of those last three All-American spots.
Check out the quick video below to meet Jakob.
The Redshirts are Coming!— NC State Wrestling ♂️ (@PackWrestle) October 17, 2019
In the first episode of this new video series we spend some time with @JakobCamacho (Danbury, Conn.) at @LPGCncstate. ⛳️ ️ pic.twitter.com/zPwBI0ZywR
Jarrett Trombley (R-Fr)
Preseason Ranking: FloWrestling - #23 / Trackwrestling - #22 / InterMat - NR
Just like at 125, our second man up will also be a new face. We’ll get to why that is in a bit, but 133 will likely be manned by another freshman, Jarrett Trombley. Trombley is a tough kid, with some slick stuff from the neutral position. He was also a highly-touted recruit, checking in at #74 on FloWrestling’s Class of 2018 Big Board. During his HS career in Michigan, Trombley won 4 state titles with a 194-1 record.
Like Camacho, Trombley also impressed during his redshirt campaign, going 21-6. His name really got put on the map, however, when he took 3rd place at the Junior World Team Trials in Reynolds Coliseum this past spring. This performance earned him a spot on the Junior National team.
Despite his similar results to Camacho last year, I do not hold the same expectations for Jarrett this coming season. I think his rankings above are pretty accurate and should hold true for most of the season. 133 is a brutal weight class this year, and I don’t see him cracking into those top tiers quite yet. Qualifying for NCAAs and winning a match or two there would be my expectation for Trombley this season.
Tariq Wilson (R-Jr)
Preseason Ranking: FloWrestling - #7 / Trackwrestling - #7 / InterMat - #12
As mentioned before, the 133 spot that was held by Tariq for the last two years is now vacant. Anyone who has seen Tariq since March understands why that is. He is HUGE! He looks more like a 157 at this point, but the expectation is that he will slot in at 141 for the upcoming season. The 3rd place finisher from two years ago, will look to bounce back from a disappointing 2019 campaign. A lower body injury midway through the season left everyone wondering just how much that affected him, but he still came one win away from his second AA finish.
The focus for Wilson this year has to be finding consistency throughout the long season, and the move up to 141 should help with that. He leaves a loaded 133lb field, and enters what is probably the most open weight class in the country. The reigning two-time National Champ, Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell, as well as multiple-time All-American, Jaydin Eierman of Missouri, have both announced their intentions to take Olympic redshirts in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo games. This means someone who probably didn’t expect it a couple months ago, will become a National Champ in Minneapolis. I think that can be Tariq. There are certainly guys remaining at this weight who will be more heavily-favored, but when Tariq is on, he is a very tough matchup for any guy in the country. Anything less than an All-American finish would be a disappointment for Tariq this season, but pushing to become that fourth National Champion of the PatPop era should be his goal.
Stay tuned for the remaining parts of this preview series. Next up will be the Middleweights!
In the meantime, head over to GoPack to buy your season tickets. Let’s Pack Reynolds this season for a team that deserves our support! I promise, if you at all enjoyed this write-up then you will love a dual meet.