The Wolfpacker

May-June 2020

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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16 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY RYAN TICE he ACC was better in wres- tling this year than it had ever been before. The six-team conference featured four squads ranked among the nation's top 10 for the first time in history, and Pat Popo- lizio's crew led the pack. NC State finished the season No. 3 in the final coaches' poll after completing its first-ever undefeated campaign. Though some dra- matic finishes were required, the Wolfpack won six of the 10 individual matches against each of No. 7 North Carolina, No. 8 Pitts- burgh and No. 9 Virginia Tech for a com- bined team score of 61-44. Popolizio estimated his team was at full strength for only one of its 15 duals, but de- spite the inconsistent lineup, the result was always the same: a Wolfpack win. The Pack posted one of just two perfect regular seasons across the sport this year, then won the most competitive ACC Championship tournament in more than a decade, thanks to a true team effort where all 10 starters placed among the top four and scored team points. NCSU also proved to be as dominant in the classroom as it was on the mat. When the ACC announced its 19-man All-ACC Academic Team the Pack led the league with six selections, while no other squad had more than four. The team also posted one of the nation's top 30 team GPAs for the first time ever, checking in 16th nationally with a 3.25 on the strength of a school-record six Scholar All-Americans. The rest of the ACC ac- counted for just five such athletes — not to mention in the 29 years from NC State's first Academic All-American in 1991 to 2019, the Wolfpack had boasted just 31 such honorees. It's a far cry from the 2.2 team GPA Popo- lizio inherited upon arriving in Raleigh. He is also excited by the team's rapidly growing fan base. Reynolds Coliseum was packed in record numbers, and the crowds were treated to exciting bouts that all ended with the home team victorious. RECORD BREAKERS The Undefeated ACC Champions Set New Standards On And Off The Mat MALE TEAM OF THE YEAR WRESTLING T NC State completed its first-ever undefeated campaign, swept the ACC regular-season and tournament championships, and then won all of the league's postseason awards (Wrestler, Rookie, Coach and Scholar-Athlete of the Year). PHOTO BY RYAN TICE

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