The Wolfpacker

November 2015 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 127 of 155

126 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY RYAN TICE W hen FloWrestling's preseason rankings were released earlier this fall, NC State had three wrestlers ranked among the na- tion's top eight — All-America position — and five listed among the top 20 in the land. The Wolfpack have boasted a trio of All- Americans just once in its history — in 1992, when it finished in ninth place at the NCAA Championships. The following year, on the strength of national champion heavyweight Sylvester Terkay, the Pack placed seventh in the country, which still stands as the best finish in program history. This year, behind another dominant big man — two-time defending NCAA cham- pion Nick Gwiazdowski — the Pack is gearing up for another top-10 finish. The heavyweight will be complimented by NC State's deepest roster, perhaps, ever. The squad opens the preseason rankings at No. 9. Sophomore 141-pounder Kevin Jack, who placed fifth at last year's NCAA Championships despite not being pulled out of his redshirt until late in the year, and fifth-year senior 157-pounder Tommy Gantt, who missed All-America status by one match two years ago and redshirted last season, lead the rest of the group. Jack is ranked No. 4 by FloWrestling, while Gantt checks in at No. 8. Junior Max Rohskopf, a national quali- fier at 165 pounds last year, was tabbed No. 10, while classmate Pete Renda, a two- time NCAA competitor who is moving up to 184 pounds, was ranked No. 18. However, those are not the only grap- plers the coaching staff is expecting big seasons from; fourth-year head coach Pat Popolizio noted this is the most complete team he's ever mentored. "At every weight, we're at least two deep," he said. "This is probably the first time I've ever been at a program where if we need options, we have them. "This will be my 10th year as a head coach, and I think this is something spe- cial. The preseason that we've had, the offseason that we've had, the training and the mentality that we've had is totally dif- ferent than I've ever been around. It's very motivating. "It's exciting to come to our workouts because of how hard they're working and the mentality they have. Nobody is taking a back seat. In the end, they have high goals, and I know they've put themselves in posi- tion to accomplish every goal." ■ PREVIEW WRESTLING Historic Goals A Top-10 Finish And More Are In The Pack's Sights Nick Gwiazdowski is vying to become just the second three-time national champion at heavy- weight in NCAA history. He is the first two-time champ in school history and has won 55 straight matches, dating back to January 2014. PHOTO BY LARRY BLANKENSHIP

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