2021 NCAA runner-up Trent Hidlay (Photo/Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
NC State Wolfpack
â€œThis year it is a different team, but we expect the same attitude and we expect the same resultsâ€~Coach Pat Popolizio
The three-time reigning ACC Champions are ready to make a run for a fourth. The Wolfpack return nine starters to an experienced lineup, including Tariq Wilson, Daniel Bullard, Hayden Hidlay, and Nick Reenan returning to Raleigh for their â€œsuper seniorâ€ year of eligibility. â€œIt is great to have the seniors back for an extra year,â€ said Coach Pat Popolizio, â€œbut we are going to be smart in our approach to their season. They have had an extra year of the college grind and we realize that we need to reduce the extra mileage on them throughout the season to make sure they are ready when it mattersâ€. The Wolfpack have a very solid lineup returning that could have as many as nine starters who are ranked in the Intermat Preseason Rankings. One of the big stories this season is weight changes; Hayden Hidlay is jumping up two weight classes to 174, Tariq Wilson is moving to 149 and Thomas Bullard will potentially move down to 157 as long as he feels healthy and strong at the lower weight, and Nick Reenan will split between 184 and 197 depending on the needs of the team. Coach Popolizio said there are several battles for starting spots and that they will use the wrestle-off for the guys to get their feet wet and roster decisions will be made based on the first weekend at the Citadel Open. The Pack have a strong schedule this season and should see some great competition. Before the conference slate begins, they will have duals against West Virginia, Gardner Webb, Appalachian State, Rider, and Princeton. They will see top-level competition at the National Collegiate Duals in Florida and will also attend the Southern Scuffle. Expect to see the Pack battling for the dual title, the ACC tournament title and a spot on the team podium in Detroit.
Hayden Hidlay returns as the leader of the Pack. He is a four-time qualifier and three-time NCAA All-American (2,4, COVID,5). Hayden moves up two weight classes from 157 to 174, which could be a huge boost to his results this season. Seeing how he looks at 174 makes it hard to believe he was ever able to cut to 157 regularly--he will be much healthier and happier at the higher weight this year. Everyone knows what Hayden is capable of achieving--he has made it to the semifinals at every NCAA tournament he has wrestled in, including making the finals opposite Jason Nolf as a freshman. Hayden will have stout competition in-conference as Mekhi Lewis (VT) returns at 174 this season--definitely looking forward to seeing them hit multiple times this year!
Trent Hidlay looks to continue the momentum coming off an NCAA runner-up finish last season. He has continued to show improvement each time he steps on the mat; he finished in third at the Senior World Team trials this fall as well. Trent enters the season ranked #3 in the Intermat Preseason rankings, but will have to go through familiar foe Hunter Bolen (VT) to pick up another ACC title.
Tariq Wilson returns for his extra year of eligibility and looks to add a third podium finish to his decorated career. Tariq has an overall record of 82-22, is a four-time qualifier with two NCAA All-American finishes (3, R12, COVID, 3). He moves up another weight class to 149 and should be an even bigger threat with having to focus less on his weight cut.
Daniel Bullard, twin brother of 157/165-pound starter Thomas Bullard, is the only starter to not return to the Wolfpack lineup.
Pat Popolizio and crew have put together incredible recruiting classes the past few seasons and have a stable of young wrestlers looking to break into the lineup. Coach Popolizio expects to get the young guys as much experience as possible, both in open tournaments and duals.
â€œWe know what to expect from our experienced guys; I'm interested to see which of our young guys makes the jump to being on that next level this season. I want to see these guys step up and be the top guys in the countryâ€
WRESTLERS TO WATCH
Because several starters will have limited action, expect to see some young wrestlers making the most of their time in the lineup.
Stevo Poulin (125) â€œStevo has been in the spotlight since he was a little kid--he's been really competitive in the room since he got here and is fighting to get into the lineup,â€ said Coach Popolizio. Poulin was a top 30 recruit out of high school and has a ton of upside and potential.
Kai Orine will be another to keep an eye on this season. He will be seeing action at either 133 or 141 this season, depending on the team's needs. Orine made the most of extra matches last season, putting up a 6-1 record. In his redshirt season, he was 20-6, including a victory over All-American Codi Russell and finishing 4th in the Southern Scuffle. â€œKai is scrappy and has shown that he can pick up big wins--he finished 4th at the Scuffle as a freshman, he's one of the guys that is looking to make a jump to the next tierâ€, said Coach Popolizio.
125: #10 Jakob Camacho 2x NCAA Qualifier, ACC 2nd
133: #14 Jarrett Trombley 2x NCAA Qualifier, ACC 4th
141: #21 Ryan Jack
Kai Orine (133/141)
149: #2 Tariq Wilson 4x NCAA Qualifier 2x All-American (3,3) ACC Champ
157: Ed Scott
165: #17 Thomas Bullard 4x NCAA Qualifier ACC 3rd
174: #5 Hayden Hidlay 4x NCAA Qualifier 3x All-American (2,4,5) ACC Champ
184: #3 Trent Hidlay 2x NCAA Qualifier NCAA Runner-Up ACC Champ
197: #18 Isaac Trumble
Nick Reenan (184/197) 3x NCAA Qualifier ACC 4th
285: #18 Deonte Wilson 2x NCAA Qualifier ACC Champ