After winning the ACC Championship and going undefeated in duals for the first time in school history, NC State wrestling returns all starters and adds to them a top-10 recruiting class. Let’s take a lot at the roster for this year’s preseason-ranked No. 3 squad:
Defending ACC champion Jakob Camacho will start for NC State at 125 pounds. The redshirt sophomore went 20-6 last season and was 9-2 in dual meets. He heated up towards the end of the season last year, and that momentum has earned him a preseason No. 3 ranking from FloWrestling.
With the departure of two redshirt junior reserves, the only other 125er on the roster is true freshman Anthony Noto, a top-15 recruit at his weight class.
No. 18 redshirt sophomore Jarrett Trombley starts at 133 pounds. He put up a 20-9 record last year and went 8-4 in duals. Redshirt sophomore Alex Urquiza appears to have taken hold of the backup role there, finishing second behind Trombley in the team’s wrestle-offs at 133 pounds.
Redshirt senior Tariq Wilson went 24-6 last year and is ranked No. 13 coming into the season. His eyes will be on an ACC Championship after losing by a point in the finals last year. The backup spot here isn’t set in stone, but redshirt sophomore Jarred Papcsy is the veteran of the remaining 141ers and thus will likely get the nod.
149 pounds is open for whoever wants it. Redshirt junior A.J Leitten returns, and he was 20-10 last year. Of the starters last year, Leitten had the worst record against ranked opponents at 1-5. In the team's wrestle-offs earlier this month, Leitten was the one seed and finished third after 6-5 losses to true freshman Ed Scott and redshirt sophomore Matt Grippi.
Scott, the crown jewel of the 2020 recruiting class, topped the bracket. Still, Leitten's starting experience weighs in his favor even as he has younger guys nipping at his heels.
There's no question a 157, No. 2 redshirt senior Hayden Hidlay owns this weight class as he looks to win a national championship. Behind Hidlay are two true freshmen, AJ Kovacs and Joe Roberts. Kovacs was the more sought-after recruit, but neither may be ready to fill a backup role. If they aren’t, head coach Pat Popolizio could look to a wrestler at 149 or 165 if the need arises.
No. 6 redshirt senior Thomas Bullard starts at 165. Bullard went 23-6 last year and was 6-2 in duals. He faced nine ranked opponents last year, winning five of those contests. Behind him sits redshirt sophomore Tyler Barnes, who went 5-1 in duals last season.
No. 11 redshirt senior Daniel Bullard starts at 174. He went 24-6 last year, 11-1 in duals and narrowly lost in the finals of the ACC Championship. Redshirt sophomores Jake Cook and Alex Faison back him up. Faison redshirted last year while Cook saw little action, going 1-4 in s.
No. 3 redshirt sophomore Trent Hidlay went 23-4 last year, losing to just one man in ACC play: Virginia Tech's Hunter Bolen, a top-two wrestler at his weight. The only way for Hidlay to build upon what he did last year is beating Bolen, and that's no easy task. Behind Hidlay, though, is junior Jacob Ferreira, who was 2-3 last year.
197 is another question mark. As redshirt senior Nick Reenan dealt with injuries, a loss of explosiveness and a move up in weight, he wrestled in just two ACC duals, losing both times. Junior Tyrie Houghton is listed as the starter for last year and was 15-10 and 0-3 in ACC duals. One of those two needs to take huge strides forward this year, else 197 will continue to be the weak link of the lineup.
Speaking of taking strides forward, junior Deonte Wilson put it all together last year at 19-9 overall, 4-1 in ACC play and, most importantly, Wilson had three wins over ranked opponents. His improvements garnered him a well-deserved No. 16 ranking coming into this season. Backing him up could be Owen Trephan, a redshirt freshman who beat junior Colin Lawler 7-0 during NC State's wrestle-offs.