The Wolfpacker

November 2019

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 113 of 139

112 ■ THE WOLFPACKER cracked Flo's preseason rankings, listed No. 23 at 133 pounds. However, Popo- lizio called that weight, along with 149 and heavyweight, "wild cards" — each has at least three contending for starting duties. The coach admitted that while he knows what to expect from his top five, the other five weight classes will truly decide how good the team can be nationally. After ty- ing for fourth nationally at the 2018 NCAA Championships, the team took a step back last year. Its 17th-place showing was tied for the program's lowest since it placed 19th in Popolizio's second year at the helm. The goal is to get back on the podium as a team, which requires a top-four finish, and continue working for the top prize. "The year we finished fourth, we were on the path of where we needed to be," Popo- lizio explained. "From there, the goal is to maintain — and that's the hardest part, to be consistent. It's just so competitive, and there are so many things that are out of our control. "We just want to keep developing guys, be in the mix to compete for hardware ev- ery year and obviously the ultimate goal is to win a team national title. I know the guys are training for and talking about winning the team title, and that's what is making these guys great. They're not delusional about it or wasting their time. "The guys on this team believe they can win a team title and an individual title. That's never really been talked about out- side of a couple of guys. Now, you can hear these guys and they lead it. They talk about why they came to NC State — 'We were recruited here to win a national title' — and that's the reality." ■ Redshirt junior 197-pounder Nick Reenan was one step away from representing the U.S. at the World Championships (the equivalent of the Olympics in non-Olympic years) last sum- mer, losing only to the eventual world cham- pion, but then tore his ACL midway through the 2018-19 season. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE MEDIA RELATIONS

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