The No. 3 NC State wrestling team overcame multiple pins and two separate six-point deficits to take down No. 7 Virginia Tech on Friday night inside Reynolds Coliseum to remain unbeaten on the year.
With the Wolfpack (14-0, 4-0 ACC) tied at 15 after back-to-back clutch decision wins brought it even with the Hokies (11-2, 2-2 ACC), redshirt freshman Jarrett Trombley secured a pin just 44 seconds into his bout to put NC State up six and all but clinch its third straight top-10 win.
“It just shows this was a total team effort,” said NC State coach Pat Popolizio. “For Trombley to go out and get that pin, that was just the kind of thing you didn’t expect to happen in other weights and it turns. That’s what’s exciting about dual meets, you never know what’s gonna happen. It was a great environment and it was a great time for him to step up and do something special for us.”
The Hokies got off to a strong start at 149 pounds, with Bryce Andonian quickly getting a takedown and four-point near fall before pinning redshirt sophomore A.J. Leitten late in the first period.
Redshirt junior No. 2 Hayden Hidlay got the Pack back on track with a 6-2 decision, muscling his way around No. 18 B.C. LaPrade to cut the team deficit in half. Redshirt junior Thomas Bullard kept the momentum going in an electric matchup against No. 6 David McFadden. Thomas Bullard simply outlasted McFadden for three straight nerve-wracking periods. Taking a 1-0 lead into the final period, Bullard secured a riding time point before giving up an escape with seconds remaining. With Reynolds roaring, Bullard yet again stopped a McFadden takedown attempt to secure the upset and equalize the team score.
NC State took the lead after redshirt junior No. 19 Daniel Bullard scored a 7-2 decision over Cody Huges leading into the marquee matchup of the night: redshirt sophomore No. 3 Trent Hidlay vs No. 2 Hunter Bolen. Hidlay struggled with Bolen’s strength, unable to take him down and eventually suffering a 3-1 decision loss.
Momentum kept sliding in Virginia Tech’s direction as Stanley Smeltzer pinned sophomore Tyrie Houghton less than 20 seconds into their 197-pound bout. Houghton wrestled in place of redshirt junior Nick Reenan, who’s battling through another knee injury. With the Hokies up 15-9 and just four bouts remaining, the math looked a little sketchy for NC State. But adversity pulled the best out of the Wolfpack.
Sophomore Deonte Wilson continued to show he’s a far cry from the wrestler he was last year, taking down No. 19 John Borst in the waning moments of the third period to give NC State a momentous shot in the arm. Redshirt freshman Jakob Camacho stepped up against No. 16 Joey Prata at 125 pounds. Down 3-1 entering the final period, Camacho got two takedowns in the last stanza, holding off escape efforts to tie the team score at 15 with his decision.
133-pounder Jarrett Trombley is a relatively unheralded name on this NC State squad, but he’s put up solid performance after solid performance in his return from injury, this week putting the match to bed. Trombley electrified his team and all in attendance, pinning Collin Gerardi 45 seconds into the match to give the Wolfpack a nigh-insurmountable six point advantage.
“I just went out there and tried to get into my stuff,” Trombley said. “I saw that leg was there [and] I just whipped to it. That’s what we drill in practice, just chain wrestling, getting to our stuff. I saw it was there, I took my opportunity and it just so happens I came out with a fall.”
In the final bout of the day, No. 10 Tariq Wilson simply had to avoid getting pinned against No. 18 Mitch Moore to protect the Wolfpack’s so-far perfect season, losing a 6-1 decision. With the win, the Wolfpack has now beaten five ranked opponents and has taken down three top-ten opponents, No. 10 Pittsburgh, No. 8 North Carolina and No. 7 Virginia Tech, in the span of two weeks, cementing its status as maybe the best team in the country.
“We knew this was gonna be a hard three weeks for us with competition,” said NC State coach Pat Popolizio. “I was pleased the way our guys responded, competing at a high level for basically the last month.”
The Wolfpack will be back in action Friday, Feb. 21 on the road against Duke for its final dual of the regular season. The match will begin at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live on the ACC Network.