No. 4 NC State wrestling earned a narrow 24-12 victory over the Appalachian State Mountaineers on Friday, Jan 8. This was a tightly contested match featuring a near comeback by the Mountaineers that was stopped cold.
The match’s first bout was between NC State’s No. 7 redshirt sophomore Jakob Camacho and Appalachian State’s Codi Russell. Russell gave Camacho a run for his money in the first two periods, but Camacho was able to pull away with the win 10-4 on the back of four total takedowns in the bout.
This was followed by another close matchup between No. 16 redshirt sophomore Jarrett Trombley for NC State and Sean Carter for the Mountaineers. In a defensive battle, Trombley led 3-0 after two periods and staved off a late surge by Carter to win 4-2.
“I always have a game plan when I’m going into the match,” Trombley said. “I had a game plan here that I talked to some coaches with, and it works really well for me. So I just tried sticking to that the entire match. I wrestled through all positions and wrestled through the whistle, so thanks to the coaches and the training here, it worked out tonight.”
In a change of pace, No. 10 redshirt senior Tariq Wilson dominated in a 14-0 showing, putting the Pack up 10-0 on the match, but this momentum would soon swing the other way. NC State freshman Ed Scott was shaken up towards the end of a tough 5-3 loss to No. 10 Jonathan Millner of App State. To add insult to injury, this marked the first lost bout by NC State for the season, though more losses were to come for the Pack.
“I think he’s fine, he’s a tough kid,” said head coach Pat Popolizio. “That’s a tough match for a true freshman, second college match. Usually you get some matches under your belt before you see a kid like [Millner]. He battled hard for about six minutes, and that’s the difference between an experienced guy and a true freshman. He’ll learn and get better from it. We went back, looked at the tape, [the injury] wasn’t as bad as it looked, but we got to make sure he’s at 100%.”
No. 2 redshirt senior Hayden Hidlay clapped back with a 14-5 victory to send NC State into the break with a 14-3 lead. This break would not only mark the halfway point of the match but also the start of a big momentum swing.
“I think it’s just different, we’re in an environment that’s different from what we’ve wrestled in, so guys need to make sure they’re focused when they go out there on the mat,” Popolizio said. “I thought there was a little bit of lack of focus tonight with the guys who didn’t win. The energy level looked a little low on their part, so we got to reevaluate some things from the outside and see what we can do to get better.”
No. 7 redshirt senior Thomas Bullard’s 4-0 shutout loss put up three more points for Appalachian State to narrow the margin to 14-6. Another Wolfpack loss followed when No. 10 redshirt senior Daniel Bullard fell short to No. 17 Thomas Flitz in a 6-4 overtime nail-biter.
Junior Jacob Ferreira’s loss was the third in a row for the Pack and closed the Wolfpack lead over the Mountaineers to 14-12, putting the Appalachian State comeback train into full throttle. With two bouts remaining, App State had all the momentum with only a two-point deficit to overcome.
But as it turned out, redshirt senior Nick Reenan had other plans. With a quick pin in the first round of his bout, Reenan put the Pack ahead 20-12, all but stopping the comeback train on a dime.
“He has the ability to do that to everyone that he’s out there wrestling against, and that’s what we expect out of him,” Popolizio said. “If you look at his starting point and where he’s at now, he’s had a lot of ups and downs in his career with injuries, and that’s one of the things that we’ve really worked hard on, the mental side and the physical side. That’s the difference this year: if he mentally believes in himself, you can see he’s one of the best kids in the country when he goes out and wrestles...I think the sky's the limit for a guy like Nick Reenan.”
No. 18 junior Deonte Wilson sealed the deal with an 11-2 win, ending the match with a 24-12 Wolfpack victory. Popolizio acknowledged the team’s underperformance but was happy to take the win.
“We were just grateful and happy to go out there and compete,” Popolizio said. “Obviously, it was not our best performance as a team overall. We know we got to get some mat time, so this is why we’re having these kinds of matches right now, to see where we’re at and what we got to work on. We’ve got to get in rhythm, and our guys that lost tonight need to know that we got to continue to work to get better, to put ourselves in a position to win.”
The Pack will look to continue its winning ways on Friday, Jan. 15 at Virginia. The match will start at 5 p.m.