NC State wrestling wins 2016 ACC Championship, four individual titles
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. - The NC State wrestling team continued its historic season, as the Wolfpack claimed the 2016 ACC Championship Sunday night in Charlottesville, Virginia. 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 looking forward to the NCAA Championships."
All buckled in and ready to get back to Raleigh! pic.twitter.com/4mCxxolLaz— NC State Wrestling (@PackWrestle) March 7, 2016
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.
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.
Kevin Jack brought home the Pack's first ACC Championship of the night, claiming top honors at 141 pounds. After a scoreless first, he 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.
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.
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.
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.
In his third and final ACC Championship, Nick Gwiazdowski won his third straight title at heavyweight. Going against the nation's No. 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.