NC State wrestling’s home opener comes this Friday, Jan. 8, as it takes on Appalachian State. The Wolfpack (1-0), ranked No. 4 in the NWCA coaches’ poll, will serve as the Mountaineers’ first opponent of the year, and if past results are any indication, this could be closer than expected.
Coming off a 42-0 victory over Gardner-Webb, the Wolfpack has momentum heading into this match. Last year, NC State took a 24-12 victory over App, winning seven of the 10 bouts.
That 12 point margin of victory was one of the smallest the Wolfpack recorded last season, and all but three of the App State wrestlers from that match returned this season. Picked to win the SoCon, it has two ranked wrestlers this season, and five were named to the 2020-2021 SoCon preseason all-conference team: Sean Carter, Anthony Brito, No. 10 Jonathan Millner, No. 17 Thomas Flitz, Paul Carson.
Carter, the SoCon freshman of the year with a 28-14 record in 2019, will wrestle No. 16 Jarrett Trombley at 133 pounds. Neither of the two took the mat last year. Trombley is 1-0 in duals so far this season, with a major decision, and shouldn’t have trouble winning a decision over Carter.
Brito went 21-9 last year, including a loss in the 141 pound bracket’s round of 16 at the 2019 Wolfpack Wrestling Club Open. He’ll face off against No. 10 Tariq Wilson, who’s 1-0 so far and won the 2019 Wolfpack Wrestling Club Open. Wilson should also fare well in this matchup.
Millner will likely face true freshman Ed Scott, who won his first-career bout via fall. Millner is a redshirt junior, the SoCon champion at 149 pounds, and was an NCAA qualifier last year. Scott has a lot of talent, but Millner’s got the experience edge on him and should be the favorite.
Flitz faces No. 10 Daniel Bullard in what will likely be the best match of the day — the only bout between two ranked wrestlers. Flitz and Bullard wrestled twice last year, with Bullard taking a 6-4 decision in their dual matchup, while Flitz beat Bullard 8-6 at a different tournament. This rubber match is a bit of a toss-up and a must-win for App to make things competitive.
Carson will face Nick Reenan in another rematch from last year’s contest. Reenan beat Carson by just a single point in 2019, with Carson going on to record a 5-4 record in duals propped up by two forfeit wins. This will be a test for Reenan, but he should take this one.
The Mountaineers’ path to victory starts with Millner, Flitz and Carson putting up strong performances, but even with those three wins, it won’t have enough against one of the best teams in the nation.
Appalachian State travels to NC State Jan. 8, with the first match starting at 7 p.m. The match will be streamed via the ACC Network Extra. Follow @TechSports on Twitter for our coverage of the contest.