On Tuesday afternoon, the ACC announced its postseason awards for the 2019-20 year and NC State wrestling took all three awards to sit next to its conference title.
Head coach Pat Popolizio takes the ACC Coach of the Year honor, followed up by redshirt junior Hayden Hidlay’s ACC Wrestler of the Year and redshirt freshman Trent Hidlay’s ACC Freshman of the Year. All three awards were voted on by the conference's head coaches.
"These awards obviously go to more of a unit, a team, a staff, the athletes," Popolizio told NC State Athletics. "I think it is a reflection of everybody that operates within our organization. It is a nice award to get, but at the end of the day, it is the people that are backing you that really put things in perspective."
The Coach of the Year honors are Popolizio’s second, with the other coming in 2018, and the ninth time an NC State coach has earned the award. Prior to Popolizio, Bob Guzzo won the award six times between 1988 and 2002, and Carter Jordan won it in 2007.
The Hidlays are the first pair of brothers to win the awards and Hayden Hidlay is the 10th member of the Wolfpack to earn Wrestler of the Year and Trent Hidlay is the fourth to win Freshman of the Year.
"It makes me really proud," Hayden Hidlay told NC State Athletics. "Even though this season didn't end in the circumstances I would have liked, this award still means a lot to me because it is an accumulation of a lot of things. To be rewarded with this [award], means a lot."
Hayden Hidlay finished the season with an unbelievable 28-1 record overall and 12-0 in duals. His lone loss came during his second-place finish at the Cliff Keen Invitational in December, following which, he went on a 16-bout winning streak to end the season. He also finished the year with his third ACC title and would’ve been the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Championships at 157 pounds.
"It means a lot to me, it proves what this [coaching] staff can do with young wrestlers," Trent Hidlay told NC State Athletics. "It is an awesome award, especially considering how good the ACC was this year. It means a lot to me."
Trent Hidlay had similar success to his older brother, finishing with a 23-4 overall record, including 14-1 in duals and a handful of top-five wins. He earned a second-place finish at the ACC Championship at 184 pounds and was ranked No. 5 nationally in that weight class for the NCAA Championships.
While NC State recorded a 15-0 dual match season, the first time going unbeaten in program history, won its 17th ACC Championship and finished at No. 3 nationally at the end of the year, it was not able to finish the season at the NCAA Championships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both Hidlay brothers and the rest of the roster will presumably be returning for next season as there are no seniors or graduate students currently on the roster.