The Wolfpacker

September 2015

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 17 of 95

18 ■ THE WOLFPACKER TRACKING THE PACK NC State wrestling has recruited well under fourth-year head coach Pat Popolizio. However, the 2016 class takes the success on the recruiting trail — which includes a pair of consensus top-25 groups in the last three years — to a different level. The Wolfpack have as- sembled a group of seven verbal commitments to form what is the No. 1 2016 class in the country entering August, head- lined by Hayden Hidlay of Mifflin County, Pa. The rising senior won 2015 FloNationals at 145 pounds, and then en- joyed a strong showing this July at the ASICS/ Vaughan Junior National Championships in Fargo, N.D. Hidlay moved up to 152 pounds and knocked off the weight class' No. 1 grappler in the country, Mason Manville, to win the title in the Greco-Roman style of wrestling before taking third in the freestyle competition, where he topped Manville again. Those performances moved the Pack commit up to No. 14 in FloWrestling's pound-for-pound rankings of all prep grapplers, while he now sits atop the website's list at 152 pounds. He also checks in as the No. 11 recruit in the senior class, regardless of weight, and could continue to rise. However, he is not the only highly ranked athlete committed to NCSU. Five schools in the country boasted multiple commits ranked among Flo's top 50 seniors as of Aug. 6, but the Pack was the only program with three. They also led the nation with five top-100 pledges; the next highest was Lehigh, which had three. Even some of the commits outside of the top 100 have earned prestigious wrestling titles. Thomas Cox (106 pounds) won NHSCA Junior Nationals in March, in addition to Kellen Devlin (126) and Thomas Bullard (152) winning the titles in their weight classes. At the same national tournament, Daniel Bullard (160) placed third, while prep teammate and fellow NCSU pledge Chris Diaz (132) was the runner-up. Here is a look at the current wrestling commits in the 2016 class: FloWrestling Weight Class Name Weight School Senior Class Rank Rank Hayden Hidlay 152 Mifflin County (Pa.) 11 1 Thomas Bullard 160 Archer (Ga.) 45 6 Daniel Bullard 170 Archer (Ga.) 50 7 Kellen Devlin 132 Amherst (N.Y.) 57 10 Chris Diaz 138 Archer (Ga.) 70 11 Thomas Cox 106 Deer Park (N.Y.) — 1# Wade Cummings 126 Downington East (Pa.) — — Michael Rogers 285 Wyoming Seminary (Pa.) 74* 8* # Ranking is from Associated Wrestling Press * Rogers is doing a post-graduate year, rankings are from 2015 WRESTLING BOASTS BEST RECRUITING CLASS IN COUNTRY NCSU faces four nonconference op- ponents from the six power conferences, including two contests as part of the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Wolfpack could potentially face seven teams that played in the postseason last year prior to ACC action. NC State tips off the season against William & Mary Nov. 13 at PNC Arena in the first of nine nonconference home games. "This will be a very difficult and com- petitive nonconference schedule for our team, particularly given we have no se- niors on our roster," NC State head coach Mark Gottfried said. "We have continued to be aggressive and schedule teams we feel will have good seasons and finish high in their respective conferences." NC State hosts IUPUI and South Ala- bama as part of the Legends Classic, and then travels to play Arizona State Nov. 23 in Brooklyn for the championship portion of the event. The Pack will get a second game the next day against either LSU or Marquette, a pair of schools it has played in past NCAA Tournaments. Junior center BeeJay Anya hit the game-winning shot to help NC State top LSU 66-65 at Pittsburgh in the round of 64 last March. The Golden Eagles and Wolfpack squared off in the 1974 national championship game, with NCSU prevail- ing 76-64. Both LSU (Ben Sim- m o n s ) a n d M a r q u e t t e (Henry Ellenson) feature freshman power forwards who are projected by Draf- to be among the top 10 picks in the 2016 NBA Draft. The ACC/Big Ten Chal- lenge assigned Michigan to play at NC State this sea- son. In their last meeting, the Wolverines defeated the Wolfpack 79-72 in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Nov. 27, 2012. Michigan went through an injury-marred 16-16 season last year, but has received some mention as a potential top-25 team this season. None of NC State's "for sure" nonconference opponents made the preseason top 25, but Michi- gan checked in at No. 20 on CBSSports. com's "early" preseason rankings. If NCSU squares off against LSU, the Tigers were No. 22 in's rankings. NC State will play on the road at Mis- souri and South Florida, which completes home-and-home series with the two squads. William & Mary, High Point and Northeastern all won 20 or more games last season, while Buck- nell and Winthrop both won 19. NC State also plays North Carolina, Duke, Florida State and Wake Forest twice, but the ACC slate hasn't been released yet. "Every night is a chal- lenge," Gottfried said. " T h i s n o n c o n f e r e n c e schedule will help us pre- pare for the rigors of the ACC, which is the tough- est basketball conference in the nation." Legends Classic And ACC/Big Ten Challenge Highlight Nonconference Men's Basketball Schedule 2015 NC State Nonconference Men's Basketball Schedule Date Opponent Nov. 13 William & Mary Nov. 15 IUPUI# Nov. 18 South Alabama# Nov. 23 vs. Arizona State* Nov. 24 vs. LSU or Marquette* Nov. 27 Winthrop Dec. 1 Michigan Dec. 5 Bucknell Dec. 13 at South Florida Dec. 16 High Point Dec. 19 at Missouri Dec. 22 UNC Greensboro Dec. 29 Northeastern # Legends Classic Raleigh Regional * Legends Classic at Brooklyn, N.Y. Fourth-year head coach Pat Popolizio al- ready has seven verbal commitments in the 2016 class, continuing his program's success on the recruiting trail. PHOTO BY LARRY BLANKENSHIP

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