No. 4 NC State wrestling (4-0, 2-0 ACC) asserted its dominance at home on Friday, Jan 22 against the No. 12 Pittsburgh Panthers (3-1, 1-1 ACC). The top-15 matchup saw the Wolfpack win eight of 10 duals and a true freshman upset a top-five opponent in NC State's 21st consecutive dual win, which leads the NCAA.
The match got off to a hot-and-cold start for the Pack, as No. 5 redshirt sophomore Jakob Camacho posted a 13-5 win. Camacho made five takedowns in his dual, including three in the third period. Camacho’s victory was followed by a close 4-2 loss for No. 16 redshirt sophomore Jarrett Trombley, putting the match score at 4-3 in favor of the Pack.
With the Wolfpack and Panthers matching each other blow-for-blow early on, the third bout played a pivotal role in swinging the momentum. No. 11 redshirt senior Tariq Wilson’s top-15 showdown against No. 14 Cole Matthews resulted in a double-overtime thriller.
Wilson’s 4-1 lead after two periods was erased by Matthews in the third to force overtime at five points apiece. After a scoreless first overtime, Wilson scored a reversal to secure a 7-5 victory in the dual and put NC State ahead 7-3.
“You give up a little mental lapse, you’re winning with 20 seconds to go up by three, you have got to have that savviness to know not to give up a takedown...but he gutted it out,” said head coach Pat Popolizio. “Honestly, I’m glad it played out like that, that he gutted it out in a very tough match against a tough opponent. When you’re in a tight dual meet, wrestling against a team that’s 12th in the country, you need every match you can; you don’t know how things are going to play out in the later part of the lineup.”
The Panthers attempted to claw back when Pitt’s Luke Kemerer took down Wolfpack freshman Ed Scott with 10 seconds left in regular time to beat Scott 3-2, pulling Pitt within one point at 7-6. The Pack quickly responded with a 19-2 tech-fall victory from No. 2 redshirt senior Hayden Hidlay, who forced three four-point near falls in the second period, catapulting NC State to a 12-6 lead heading into intermission.
The Wolfpack wasted no time in building on its lead from the first half of the match, as the Bullard twins ensured that the Wolfpack did not squander its six-point lead. No. 17 redshirt senior Thomas Bullard upset Pitt’s No. 7 Jake Wentzel 4-3, sealing the deal with a takedown halfway through the third period. No. 12 redshirt senior Daniel Bullard took care of business with a 6-0 shutout win in the 174-pound match to put NC State ahead 18-6.
No. 4 redshirt sophomore Trent Hidlay piled on some more points for the Pack with his 11-4 win. Hidlay monopolized the takedown department with four to No. 16 Pittsburgh Panther Gregg Harvey’s zero, but Hidlay’s outing was overshadowed by the shocking victory from NC State freshman Isaac Trumble that followed.
Despite his lack of experience at the collegiate level, Trumble was raring to go, even against Pitt’s No. 5 Nino Bonaccorsi. After holding his own in a scoreless first period and penalty for locked hands early the second, Trumble seized his opportunity to make a mark on the match and notched six unanswered points to pull off the upset.
“I’ve always been a guy that gets up early,” Trumble said. “Even this summer, even during COVID times, I like to try and get in some work while everyone is sleeping. It makes me feel good about myself. After that stuff, I like to reward myself with a cup of coffee, so that gets me going for work and then my classes, and then I’m ready for practice later in the day.”
Having a freshman who can come in and get a win like that is something any coach would love to have in their program and Popolizio is no exception.
“[Trumble] came here to win a national title,” Popolizio said. “The kid is about as disciplined as you can get. Wakes up every morning at 5 a.m., he’s out running… He’s an awesome kid to have in the program.”
The match wrapped up with a 6-1 win by NC State's No. 18 junior Deonte Wilson, making the final match score 27-6 in favor of NC State.
Wolfpack wrestling will look to continue its winning ways on the road in Chapel Hill against No. 14 North Carolina on Friday, Jan 29. The dual meet will start at 6 p.m.
“We know where we stand as a program, with our history and our tradition and our expectations, it’s to win,” Popolizio said. “It doesn’t matter who we have, we expect to win.”