The NC State wrestling team continued its historic season, as the Wolfpack claimed the 2016 ACC Championship Sunday night in Charlottesville, Va. The conference title is the first for NC State since 2007, and the 15th in school history. NC State, who finished No. 2 in the final coaches poll of the season, finished ahead of Virginia Tech, 90-81.5.
The Wolfpack's four individual titles are the most for an NC State team since 2007 (five). Redshirt seniors Tommy Gantt (157 pounds) and Nick Gwiazdowski (285), along with junior Max Rohskopf (165) and sophomore Kevin Jack (141) all took top honors on the podium. In addition, junior Pete Renda (184) and redshirt freshman Sean Fausz (125) both advanced to the finals and were runner-ups. In third place, sophomore Michael Boykin (197) and redshirt freshman Jamal Morris (125). Of the 10 Pack wrestlers, nobody finished lower then fourth.
Nick Gwiazdowksi was voted the ACC's Most Outstanding Wrestler, the 12th Wolfpack wrestler to win the award and the first since 2007.
NC State also secured eight automatic bids to the NCAA Championships, tying the school record.
"This title means a lot to this team," said Pat Popolizio. "From coming in last a season ago, to winning the title this year, its been a long time coming. The effort out there today shows the hard work that we put in everyday, and we are ow looking forward to the NCAA Championships."
Going into the finals, NC State held a 78-75.5 lead in the team race. Virginia Tech had seven grapplers in the finals, while NC State had six. There were also five head-to-head championship bouts to determine the 2016 ACC Champion.
• 125 - R-Fr. Sean Faust - ACC Runner-Up
Coming in as the No. 2 seed, Sean Fausz brought home a second place finish at 125 pounds. After a scoreless first period, Faust started the scoring with an escape, but Dance answered with a takedown in the second. Dance escaped to start the third, and his second takedown made the final 5-1 . With Fausz reaching the finals, he earns a NCAA Automatic bid.
• 141 - So. Kevin Jack - ACC Champion
Kevin Jack brought home the Pack's first ACC Championship of the night, claiming top honors at 141 pounds. After a scoreless first, scored an escape in the second but was followed by an escape by Virginia Tech to start the third. The lone takedown of the bout was by Jack with 1:28 left, and after a VT escape, Jack hung on for the 3-2 win and his first ACC Championship. Jack is the Pack's first ACC Champion at 141 pounds since Darrion Caldwell in 2007.
• 157 - R-Sr. Tommy Gantt - ACC Champion
Redshirt senior Tommy Gantt won his first ACC title, claiming top honors at 157 pounds. After a scoreless first, VT opened the second with an escape. Gantt then fired in on a shot, and scored the lone takedown of the match with 10 seconds left in the second. Gantt's escape to start the third concluded the scoring at 3-1. Gantt goes into the NCAA Tournament with a perfect 24-0 record on the season.
• 165 - Jr. Max Rohskopf - ACC Champion
Max Rohskopf made it back-to-back ACC titles with his win at 165 pounds. After a scoreless first, Rohskopf started the second period on top and rode out UNC the entire two minutes. To start the third, Rohskopf chose down. After 1:44 with UNC on top, Rohskopf finally pulled through with the escape point, and came away with the 1-0 win. Against ACC foes this season, Rohskopf went a combined 6-0, recording a pin and then going a combined 25-0 against the other five opponents.
• 184 - Jr. Pete Renda - ACC Runner-up
Pete Renda came home with a second place finish at 184 pounds. VT started the offense with a takedown in the first followed by a Renda escape. Another Renda escape to start the second tied the score 2-2 entering the third. Already down the ride time point, Renda went in for a late shot, but VT scored the decisive takedown and got the 5-2 win. Renda also locked up a NCAA automatic bid for the third straight year, the first at 174 pounds.
• 285 - R-Sr. Nick Gwiazdowski - ACC Champion
In his third and final ACC Championship, Nick Gwiazdowski won his third straight title at heavyweight. Going against the nation's #2 wrestler at the same weight, Gwiazdowski scored a 6-2 win. He had a takedown in the first and third period for the final score. Gwiazdowski enters the NCAAs with a perfect record for the second straight year, 29-0 this season.
CONSOLATION FINALS RECAP
Jamal Morris became the eighth and final Wolfpack wrestler to earn a NCAA automatic bid, as he placed third at 133 pounds. Coming strong in the first period with a 6-2 lead and two minutes of ride time, Morris kept the pressure on and avenged a regular season loss to Virginia Tech with a 10-4 win to earn the weight's third NCAA bid. Sophomore Michael Boykin also brought home a third place finish, as he scored a 3-1 OT win at 197 pounds.
In other third place matches, Beau Donahue fell 8-6 in OT at 149 pounds, and Nicky Hall fell 5-3 at 174 pounds.
CONSOLATION SEMIFINALS RECAP
The Pack had three wrestlers in this round, as Jamal Morris earned a bye because Duke did not have a wrestler at 133 pounds.
Michael Boykin picked up his second win of the day, and with his 3-2 win at 197 pounds he earned a NCAA automatic bid. Beau Donahue started the Pack with an exciting match, scoring a pin with just six seconds left. With the match tied 7-7 late in the third, Donahue hit a takedown with 10 seconds left and immediately turned it into a pin. Nicky Hall also came back from an earlier loss and picked up a win, as he scored a 3-0 win in his match - thanks in large part to riding out the entire third period.
Eight Pack wrestlers saw action in this round, with six advancing to the finals with a win - the most for NC State in the finals since 2007 (8).
Sean Faust started out with a 4-2 win at 125 pounds (2:13 ride time), followed by Kevin Jack's 8-3 decision at 141 pounds (3:44 ride time). Tommy Gantt (157) and Max Rohskopf brought home back-to-back wins, with Gantt's 14-9 win and Rohskopf's 7-0 victory. NC State closed the round with a pair of bonus point wins - 12-0 with 4:55 of ride time for Pete Renda at 184 pounds, and a first period pin at 285 pounds for Nick Gwiazdowski.
Jamal Morris nearly pulled off the top upset of the day, as he fell to the nation's #6 wrestler George DiCamillo 14-13. Morris caught DiCamillo in the first and turned him for back points multiple times and built a 11-2 lead. But DiCamillo scored a late takedown in the third to advance. At 197 pounds, Michael Boykin narrowly missed an upset with a 2-0 to #5 ranked Conner Hartmann of Duke.
After the semifinals, the Hokies were up 68.5-63 over the Pack.
FIRST ROUND RECAP
Six Pack wrestlers had first round byes, so four were in action in the first round. Jamal Morris started the Pack off with a pin just 26 seconds into his bout at 133 pounds. The Pack then suffered back-to-back losses, Beau Donahue pinned at 149 pounds and Nick Hall fell 4-1 at 174 pounds. Another exciting match ended the first round for NC State, as Michael Boykin scored the bout's only takedown just nine seconds into OT to score a 3-1 win at 197 pounds.
NC State will next be in action March 17-19 at the NCAA Championships in New York. Seed and at-large bids will be announced this week. After today's action, NC State is will have a school-record eight wrestlers at the NCAAs as they all earned automatic bids today.