The stars were out for NC State’s ACC opener on Friday night - the Pack played host to Virginia on the mat, and several UFC and wrestling celebrities off of it. The fight promotion hosts its first event in Raleigh on Saturday night, and many of their stars & fighters sought out the confines of Reynolds Coliseum for their Friday night entertainment. This list includes Ben Askren (retired Olympic wrestler and UFC star), Curtis Blaydes (who is headlining Saturday night’s UFC event in PNC arena), and Daniel Cormier (former Olympic wrestler and former UFC Light Heavyweight & Heavyweight Champion).
The lights were bright and the Pack delivered on the mat. NC State steamrolled Virginia, 28-9, winning 8 of the 10 individual bouts.
The dual began at 125 pounds, where Jakob Camacho took on the second-ranked guy in the country and returning NCAA finalist, Jack Mueller. Mueller is a crushing presence in the top position, and for the most part Camacho was able to keep this match on the feet, so I’m sure the staff are happy with Jakob’s execution of the gameplan. Towards the end of the second period, Mueller was visibly gassed and Camacho took advantage to secure a late third period takedown. In the end, it wasn’t enough as he fell 5-2, but I really like what that last takedown will do for Camacho’s confidence going forward. He wrestled tough and showed that he can go with the top guys.
Going into the dual, there were several swing matches that were going to dictate the end result. Three that were particularly interesting were at 133, 149, & heavyweight, because both competitors in those bouts were ranked similarly: in the 25-35 range, or famously known as “on the bubble”. These are huge matches to win for your resume come NCAA seeding time, and the Pack won all three. At 133, Jarrett Trombley eked out a tight one over #24 Louie Hayes. We should see Trombley move into the Flo rankings on Tuesday with this victory - he’s been hovering on the cusp all year. At 149, AJ Leitten was in a 2-0 hole with 35 seconds left, but thanks to an escape and late takedown, he took the 3-2 victory. And at heavyweight, Deonte Wilson took out #21 Quinn Miller by 5-1 decision and should re-enter the FloWrestling top-25 on Tuesday as well.
From 157 to 184, the Hidlay-Bullard sandwich did what it does best: score bonus. Hayden got a major decision (15-1), Thomas got a major decision (11-2), Daniel secured a second-period pin in what was a tight match up to that point, and Trent struggled to open up his opponent, but still gutted out a 3-2 victory.
BBBBBBullard PIN!— NC State Wrestling ♂️ (@PackWrestle) January 25, 2020
Daniel Bullard with a huge 6 team points with his second period PIN at 174 pounds! pic.twitter.com/yvNnBUtofo
In what was an otherwise fantastic evening, there was one sour moment. During the 197-pound match, Nick Reenan appeared to re-injure his surgically-repaired knee. He got into a scramble and sometimes when legs start getting tangled, things like this can happen. He immediately reached for his knee and the match was stopped. Making the smart call, Nick and the staff forfeited the rest of the match to Aiello of Virginia, however he was able to walk off the mat under his own power. I’ve been saying for a few weeks now, that it hasn’t looked like Reenan fully trusted his knee since the surgery, so it’s possible this was just a scare. Regardless, we’re all hoping he’s okay and looking forward to any forthcoming updates concerning his health.
#5 NC State 28-9 Virginia
- 125: #2 Jack Mueller (UVA) dec. #19 Jakob Camacho (NCSU); 5-2 (0-3 UVA)
- 133: Jarrett Trombley (NCSU) dec. #24 Louie Hayes (UVA); 4-2 (3-3)
- 141: #15 Tariq Wilson (NCSU) dec. Brian Courtney (UVA); 8-5 (6-3 NCSU)
- 149: A.J. Leitten (NCSU) dec. Denton Spencer (UVA); 3-2 – (8-3* NCSU)
- 157: #2 Hayden Hidlay (NCSU) major dec. Justin McCoy (UVA); 15-1 (12-3 NCSU)
- 165: #13 Thomas Bullard (NCSU) major dec. Krystian Kinsey (UVA); 11-2 (16-3 NCSU)
- 174: #14 Daniel Bullard (NCSU) pin Victor Marcelli (UVA); 4:46 (22-3 NCSU)
- 184: #3 Trent Hidlay (NCSU) dec. Michael Battista (UVA); 4-2 (25-3 NCSU)
- 197: #7 Jay Aiello (UVA) inj. default #24 Nick Reenan (NCSU); 1:47 (25-9 NCSU)
- 285: Deonte Wilson (NCSU) dec. #21 Quinn Miller (UVA); 5-1 (28-9 NCSU)
*NC State was deducted a team point during the 149 bout for control of mat.
This was a good showing for the Pack, and bodes well for the rest of the season as some of our “bubble” guys earned very important resume-building victories. There was also a solid crowd, as GoPack reports there were over 1,600 fans in attendance.
In other ACC wrestling news, the Tarheels took out #3 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Friday night. That means only two unbeaten teams remain: #1 Iowa and the Wolfpack. This also means NC State will likely move up in the NWCA dual rankings next week.
Next up for the Pack is a trip up to Pittsburgh to take on the #10 Panthers. Pitt shocked NC State in Reynolds last year, so Pop’s guys should have revenge on their minds.