Deonte Wilson (left) and Hunter Catka during the 2021 dual meet (photo courtesy of Dave Knachel; Virginia Tech athletics)
Friday night marks the start of "Friday Night Duals" in the ACC and with it comes one of the most heated current rivalries in college wrestling, NC State and Virginia Tech.
The rivalry has everything. Conference/regional ties: check. Star wrestlers on both sides: check. Nationally relevant teams: check. Exciting matches: check. Back-and-forth results: Check. Off-the-mat arguments: check. Loyal fan bases that don't like each other: check.
With NC State coming in ranked fifth in InterMat's Dual Rankings and Virginia Tech eighth, it marks the seventh time in the last eight meetings that both teams are ranked in the top eight at the time of the match.
These two teams have split the last two meetings after NC State had won three in a row from 2018-20.
Tomorrow, our ACC correspondent will have a breakdown of the actual dual itself. Before then, we're going to look back at the recent history of this series and, basically, how we got here!
Pat Popolizio was hired in the spring of 2012 and inherited an NC State team that went 7-9, finished fourth in the six-team ACC and finished with 6.5 points at the 2012 NCAA Championships (44th place). Virginia Tech had already hit its stride under Kevin Dresser who had just finished his sixth season in Blacksburg.
Although the schools wrestled each other each year and even had a close dual in 2013-14 (17-16 in favor of Virginia Tech), the rivalry really started to blossom during the 2015-16 season. Our focus will be on how this rivalry started bubbling over with that 2016 meeting.
February 12th - NC State Fairgrounds (Virginia Tech wins 19-14)
#3 NC State/#8 Virginia Tech (ranking pre-dual)
In early December, NC State ascended to the #3 ranking in the national polls and continued to maintain that position heading into their final conference dual of the year. The Wolfpack were 21-0 and fresh off a win against a tough Nebraska squad, just outside the top-10.
This dual had a bit of a different setting as Reynolds Coliseum was undergoing a renovation, so NC State held home duals on the site of the NC State Fairgrounds. The Fairgrounds had limited seating, but placed fans right next to the action, which gave the dual an even bigger "feel" than it already had.
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