Gwiazdowski Repeats As Champion

ST. LOUIS, MO. - An escape point with 17 seconds left gave NC State redshirt junior Nick Gwiazdowski his second straight NCAA Championship. Entering as the #1 seed this year, Gwiazdowski defended his heavyweight title with a 7-6 win over Michigan's Adam Coon in the finals of the 2015 NCAA Championships Saturday night.

Nick Gwiazdowski becomes the first wrestler in school history to win multiple NCAA titles, and only the third ACC wrestler all-time to do so, and the first since 1995. He brings NC State its seventh national wrestling championship, and its fourth at heavyweight.

Going 5-0 enroute to the title, Gwiazdowski outscored his opponents an incredible 45-14. Among those five wins, he defeated the #16 seed, #8 seed, #5 seed and then the #6 seed in the championship bout.

"This was an amazing accomplishment for Nick," said head coach Pat Popolizio. "Defending his national title shows his dedication and desire to be the best in the country. Anytime you are defending the national title there is a lot of pressure and he kept his composure and confidence through it all.

"Our staff is extremely proud of the season he has had and excited for his future."

Gwiazdowski was once again looking for his offense the entire championship bout. He scored takedowns in both the first and the second periods to go up 4-3 into the third. Starting in the down position, Gwiazdowski scored a reversal and took a 6-3 lead. But Coon scored an escape and then a takedown in the final 30 seconds to even things up 6-6. But it was Gwiazdowski's escape with 17 seconds left that brought home his second national championship.

"I knew it was going to be a war," said Gwiazdowski. "It was not going to be easy. You look at his matches, he doesn't stop. So I went in there with a mentality of you're going to have to kill somebody or you're going to get killed."

He is the seventh NC State wrestler to earn All-American honors in back-to-back years, Darrion Caldwell was the last in 2008-09. In addition to his second straight title, Gwiazdowski is now a three-time All-American, he placed eight his freshman year at Binghamton.

Gwiazdowski claimed the ACC's 17th individual national championship in wrestling. Gwiazdowski's pair of titles along with the Caldwell's in 2009 give NC State the last thee for the conference, and the last time the ACC had a wrestler win a national title that wasn't from NC State was 1995 (UNC).

Gwiazdowski finished 2014-15 with a perfect 35-0 record. He now holds the school record with 55 straight wins dating back to last year, and will enter next year with the nation's longest winning streak.

In addition to Gwiazdowski's podium performance, Pack freshman Kevin Jack also earned All-American honors as he placed fifth at 141 pounds. Starting as an unseeded wrestler, Jack used three upsets to reach the NCAA semifinals last night and then a 3-0 upset of the #11 seed today.

The Pack duo is the first pair of All-Americans in the same year for NC State since 1993.

As a team, the Wolfpack finished in 16th place, and improvement on last year's 19th place showing. This season is the highest NCAA finish since 1993, and Popolizio and his staff have led the Pack to back-to-back top-20 finishes for the first time since 1992-93.

"This tournament is all about wrestling your best and setting the bar high," said Popolizio. "Getting an unseeded wrestler to place, and a back-to-back national champion, was a big statement. This builds confidence within the program and shows the guys are buying in and continuing to improve.

"Our goal at NC State is to produce national champions and All-Americans, and we accomplished that goal today. We couldn't be happier for our program."


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