Reynolds Coliseum Logo

After renovation, the new court on Reynolds Coliseum features a large Mr. Wuf at center court and a brand new score board along with new courtside seats. Reynolds, which will now hold just over 5000 fans for games, or around 6000 for concerts. 

From team and individual national championships, to wild finishes, upsets and more, 2021 was a memorable year and over the next three days, the Technician Sports Editors will be breaking down our top 20 NC State moments of 2021. 

It was a great year across the board for NC State, and plenty of things could have made the list, but here are our top 20.

No. 20: Luke Hille starts first fall in fantastic fashion

Kicking off our list is freshman midfielder Luke Hille’s insane start to his first fall. The former NCFC Academy player played 10 minutes during the spring season, but in his first fall with the Pack, Hille looked unstoppable to start the year.

Scoring three goals in the first two games, Hille was on pace for a stellar season before an injury sidelined him for nearly a month. Hille ended the year with six goals, but if he had been able to stay healthy there is no telling just how many he might have been able to snag.

No. 19: Alexis Galarneau reaches Round of 16 in NCAA Men’s Tennis Singles Championship

Next in our countdown is Alexis Galarneau’s run at the NCAA Men’s Tennis Singles Championship. The two-time ITA Singles All-American capped off his collegiate tennis career in style, rattling off two wins by first taking down Georgia’s Trent Bryde before advancing to the Round of 16 with a victory over Adria Soriano Barrera of Miami.

Galarneau lost his first set of the tournament against Aleksander Kovacevic from Illinois, who bested Galarneau in three sets to end his season. The fifth-year senior finished his career with a number of accolades, including 77 singles wins, three First-Team All-ACC selections and 2021 ITA Carolina Region Senior Player of the Year.

No. 18: Men’s basketball offers up plenty of free basketball early in season

While the start to the season has been far from ideal for men’s basketball, there have certainly been some very memorable games, including a pair of wild OT finishes. 

The first was a four-OT thriller against Nebraska during the ACC/B1G Challenge, in which the Wolfpack won 104-100. Redshirt sophomore Dereon Seabron had one of his now trademark double-doubles, scoring 39 and grabbing 19 rebounds.

The Wolfpack followed that up less than two weeks later by taking the then-No. 1 team in the country, Purdue, to OT in Brooklyn. While the Pack ended up falling, with failure to defend the paint being a major contributing factor, the game gave a glimpse of what level the team can play at.

No. 17: Gymnastics reaches NCAA Regionals, Emily Shepard qualifies for NCAA Championships

Junior Emily Shepard and the Wolfpack gymnastics team crack the top 20 with a postseason run of their own. The Pack became the first team to reach a regional final after competing in the first round since the current regional format was adopted in 2018-19. 

NC State went toe-to-toe against some of the top programs in the country at the Athens regional, riding the best regional score in program history in the second round to knock off then-No. 16 Illinois and then-No. 25 Central Michigan. The Wolfpack ultimately bowed out in the regional final, finishing fourth behind a trio of top-10 teams.

Shepard herself competed individually at the NCAA Championships, the first NC State gymnast to do so since 2015. Shepard finished a historic NC State gymnastics season with a bang, posting a 9.8875 on floor for the highest score in a single Nationals event in NC State history.

No. 16: Icepack and Sailpack represent at nationals

Not to be left out, NC State club sports made their own marks in 2021. The club men’s ice hockey and club sailing programs each appeared at their respective national tournaments, with the Sailpack earning its first national tournament berth since the team was founded in 1954.

The Icepack made its way to Bismarck, North Dakota for the ACHA D2 Nationals, knocking off No. 9 Providence and No. 16 Davenport before falling to No. 1 University of Mary. The Sailpack finished 17th out of 18 teams in the Intercollegiate Sailing Association National Championship regatta in Annapolis, Maryland.

No. 15: Margot Ridgeway makes comeback after stroke

NC State’s Comeback Player of the Year for the 2020-21 season, senior defender Margot Ridgeway made an incredible return to the field in spring 2021 after suffering a stroke in June 2020.

“In the summer of 2020, we had bigger, more important things on my mind about her than returning to play,” said women’s soccer head coach Tim Santoro on Oct. 24. “It's been phenomenal to see her rebound and be able to contribute last spring and this fall, and she deserves all the credit for rehab and getting back and getting herself in the position to play.”

Ridgeway played nearly 700 minutes across 15 games between NC State’s spring and fall slates. During the team’s game against Syracuse on Oct. 24, the team wore red ribbons and wrist tape with messages honoring Ridgeway and her return. Included in those messages was “B.E. F.A.S.T”, an acronym to help people identify the signs of a stroke.

“I think this is one of the closest teams we’ve had together,” Ridgeway said after the game. “It really feels like a family, and they made me feel so special today. [They] really make me feel loved like every single day, and I love to come to practice and game days with them."

No. 14: Women’s soccer topples two top-5 Tobacco Road teams in 10 days

NC State women’s soccer ran a gauntlet of ranked teams during its fall schedule and after five straight one-goal losses to teams that were either ranked or receiving votes, the team needed some big wins to kick-start its NCAA tournament push. It got just that in early October.

The Pack went on the road on Oct. 7 and beat then-No. 4 Duke in overtime, with sophomore forward Jameese Joseph calling game in the final seconds with a lethal solo counter attack.

Less than 10 days later, the Pack returned home and toppled archrival and then-No. 3 team in the country, UNC-Chapel Hill. Joseph once again scored the winner, but freshman keeper Maria Echezarreta shined in that upset with eight saves.

With a road win over Louisville in between those two games, that early October stretch propelled the Pack back into the postseason.

No. 13: Women’s basketball topples Louisville for second win over No. 1 team in a season

Women’s basketball had an amazing season in 2020-21 and has another spot on this list to show for it. Part of that success was taking down top teams and proving it belongs in that upper echelon. Early in the season, the team took down South Carolina on the road, a major upset but that happened in 2020. Later in the season, the Pack replicated the feat, beating then No. 1 Louisville by 14.

No. 12: Wolfpack well represented in Tokyo

The 2021 Olympics saw 12 past, present or future NC State athletes compete in the Games. From swimming to softball, the Wolfpack was incredibly well represented. Head volleyball coach Luka Slabe took home gold as an assistant coach with Team USA, but he was far from the only one to find success at the Games.

No. 11: Football finally beats Clemson in OT thriller

Going into the last week of 2021’s regular season for football, it seemed impossible for the Pack to top the high it achieved from taking down Clemson for the first time in 10 years. The 27-21 Wolfpack victory in 2OT provided an unmatched feeling for Wolfpack fans far and wide, with it seeming to be the year that the Pack finally got over the 8-4 hump. 

In terms of environment at Carter-Finley, very few moments will ever match the energy found in the Pack’s home turf as sophomore quarterback Devin Leary found redshirt sophomore wideout Devin Carter for the game-winning score.

No. 10: Men’s golf ends fantastic season with National Championship appearance 

2021 was an incredible year for the men’s golf team. The Pack took home six first-place finishes during the calendar year and capped off its spring season with a trip to the NCAA Championship in Scottsdale, Arizona. After finishing fourth at its regional to make the championship, the Pack finished 20th out of 30 teams.

No. 9: Women’s basketball wins second straight ACC title

NC State women’s basketball cemented its place as a heavy hitter in the world of women’s college basketball in 2021, taking home yet another ACC title. The Pack secured a 58-56 victory over the Louisville Cardinals in a nailbiter that saw graduate guard Raina Perez nail the game-winning basket with only 2.1 seconds remaining on the clock. 

The Wolfpack’s defense of the 2020 ACC championship would continue to prove head coach Wes Moore’s ability to build dominant rosters that can compete with anyone. With an NC State team being put through the ringer in another season with a loaded schedule, only time will tell if this squad can three-peat. Another conference title or not, nothing can take away from the goosebumps given by seeing Perez’s shot fall in the dying moments of 2021’s ACC championship.

No. 8: Wrestling completes three-peat of ACC titles

Wrestling took home its third straight ACC team title in 2021 and five wrestlers took home individual titles as well. The blowout win saw the Pack finish 24 points higher than second place.

Redshirt senior Tariq Wilson, redshirt senior Hayden Hidlay, redshirt senior Daniel Bullard, redshirt sophomore Trent Hidlay and junior Deonte Wilson were the five to win individual titles, with Jakob Camacho also reaching the final of his bracket.

The Pack was also the host for the Championships, adding something a little extra special to the victory.

No. 7: Women’s cross country dominates ACC Championship for sixth straight conference title

To say the women’s cross country team dominated the ACC Championship might be a bit of an understatement. The Pack took home its sixth straight and 27th overall ACC title with just 20 points, the joint-lowest score by an ACC Championship team. That score was 67 points lower than second place. 

Junior Kelsey Chmiel took the individual title, with the Pack taking four of the top-5 spots and half of the top-10 spots. 

No. 6: Women tennis makes final four appearance, shines in singles and doubles tournaments

The women’s tennis team had a truly historic 2021 season, The Wolfpack’s 20 wins were the second most in program history and the team made it all the way to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.

Its road to the semifinal included wins over No. 36 Iowa State, No. 35 USC and No. 3 Georgia, but the Pack wasn’t done there.

The team also shone in the singles and doubles tournaments with junior Alana Smith and fifth-year Anna Rogers making it to the semifinals of the doubles tournament, beating their own program record and Rogers made it to the quarterfinals of the singles bracket. 

No. 5: Football wins thrilling comeback over arch rivals, multiple program records get broken

There are wild finishes. There are wins over your rivals. There are program records being broken. And then there is the Wolfpack’s Nov. 26 win over UNC-Chapel Hill, which featured all three.

Down nine with just over two minutes to play, the Wolfpack looked set for disappointment, but two TD receptions from senior receiver Emeka Emezie on a couple of dimes from redshirt sophomore quarterback Devin Leary, junior kicker Chris Dunn recovering his own onside kick and the defense holding off UNC’s last-ditch attempt, the Pack was able to come away with a wild win.

In the process, Emezie became the all-time program leader in receptions, and Leary broke Philip Rivers’ single-season TD record. Truly a memorable game.

No. 4: Elly Henes wins national championship 30 years after her mom and coach

If winning an individual national title wasn’t already special enough, then the context surrounding Elly Henes' 2021 5,000-meter win certainly should be. The now-graduated runner took home the win in the same event, in the same stadium, that her mother, and coach, Laurie Henes did when she was a runner at NC State 30 years earlier.

The Henes family certainly knows how to win, and there is more of that to come on this list.

No. 3 : Women’s swimming & diving finishes second at NCAAs, wins five events

The women’s swimming & diving team had an incredible performance at the NCAA Championships, smashing records and finishing second, its highest ever placement. 

The 400-yard medley relay team broke program, NCAA and U.S. records with its 3:24.59. Junior Sophie Hansonn, a member of that 400-meter relay team, made program history once again the next day, winning the team’s first individual NCAA title in the 100-yard breaststroke. Hansonn wasn’t alone for long, with sophomore Katherine Berkoff, another member of the relay team, winning the individual title in the 100-yard backstroke. 

The Pack picked up another relay win in the 200-yard medley, and Hansson picked up another individual title in the 200-yard breaststroke.

No. 2: Pack9’s College World Series run and return to the Doak

Baseball is rife with Cinderella storylines and unexpected heroes, but few have ever matched the way the 2021 NC State baseball team captured the attention of a national audience.

Stumbling to a 1-8 start to ACC play, the Wolfpack’s season looked over not long after it began. The Pack rode the momentum of a late-March sweep of the then-No. 11 UNC Tar Heels all the way to the postseason, where it finished runner-up at the ACC Championship before going on a giant-killing spree.

Then-No. 17 Louisiana Tech. Then-No. 1 Arkansas. Then-No. 4 Vanderbilt. These were some of the victims of NC State’s postseason magic. Although Vanderbilt ultimately advanced to the College World Series final, former shortstop Jose Torres’ go-ahead homer against the Razorbacks to send the Pack to Omaha and sophomore right-handed pitcher Sam Highfill’s showdown against Jack Leiter and the Commodores will go down as two of the most exciting moments in the history of college baseball. A fitting legacy for a team that brought so much excitement to the ballpark day in and day out.

No. 1: Women’s cross country ends NC State’s 38-year team NCAA title

Was there really any other choice here? A lot of teams got close, but women’s cross country was the one Wolfpack team to win a national championship in 2021. Led by Chmiel’s sixth-place finish, the Wolfpack ended NC State’s 38-year NCAA team title drought, finishing an incredibly fitting 38 points below second-place BYU.

While it was the first NCAA title in the program’s history, it was its third national title overall. After winning it all in Tallahassee, Florida, the Pack returned to campus and were welcomed by fans at the Belltower. The team also got a chance to take the trophy inside the Belltower, thanks to former chancellor Tom Stafford. 

NC State had a lot of great moments in 2021, but nothing tops a national championship.

Sports Editor

I'm Nicholas Schnittker, one of the two assistant sports editors for Technician. I'm in the class of 2022 and am currently majoring in communication and minoring in journalism. I have been at Technician since August 2018 and an editor since May 2019.

Assistant Sports Editor