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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    ACC Summer Roundup

    It’s been a minute since we took a step back and examined the conference as a whole and looked at all of the moving pieces. Let’s see what’s happening in the ACC as we enter the summer months. 

    West Coast to the Atlantic Coast Conference

    The biggest change we will see in the conference this season is the addition of Stanford to the conference (California and Southern Methodist are also joining but do not have wrestling programs). The Cardinal has a strong core with an impressive #2 ranked recruiting class moving into Palo Alto this season. Current North Carolina head coach Rob Koll came to Chapel Hill after a stint as the head coach at Stanford. He was succeeded by Chris Ayres after his long tenure as head coach at Princeton. The addition of a scrappy Stanford team could provide some interesting wrinkles in the conference competition this year. We will take a deeper look at this as schedules are released and logistics are figured out. 

    Coaching Changes

    Adam Hall left his post as Associate Head Coach at NC State to take the head coaching job at Utah Valley. Replacing Hall in Raleigh is an experienced and highly accomplished Coach Zack Esposito. Pat Popolizio and Esposito both have Oklahoma State ties; Esposito was on staff at OSU for several years, but his most recent post was as the Developmental Coach for the USOPTC.  

    Cody Brewer moved north to take the Head Assistant Coach position at Princeton after several years on staff in Blacksburg. Moving south to join the staff is Zach Tanelli who had spent the previous eight seasons as the Head Coach at Columbia University and will serve as the Associate Head Coach for the Hokies. Tanelli wrestled under Jared Frayer in his first year coaching at Wisconsin and they have maintained a close relationship. 

    Another former head coach will be joining an ACC staff, this time in Pittsburgh with Lou Rosselli joining as an Assistant Coach. Rosselli was the long-time Head Coach of the Ohio RTC - where he coached Pitt Head Coach Keith Gavin and was most recently the Head Coach for the University of Oklahoma, where Gavin spent a year before coming to Pittsburgh. 

    Transfer Portal

    There are a lot of new faces joining the ACC via the transfer portal; as of the time of this article, nine wrestlers left the conference for new teams while 10 will be transferring into three teams in the ACC. The portal this year seemed to be very heavy with Ivy League wrestlers who have remaining eligibility after exhausting their allowed time at their schools - the Ivy League doesn’t allow grad students to compete in athletics. 

    North Carolina was very active in the portal, adding four new wrestlers to the team. Ethan Oakley (133) will be moving across NC from Appalachian State, while Ryan Boersma (285) will be joining from Mizzou. Two former Columbia wrestlers will be donning a new shade of blue with Josh Ogunsanya (157) and Nolan Neves (285) joining the Tar Heels. 

    Pittsburgh also took advantage of the portal; they have been very successful adding talent to their roster since the transfer portal became an option, with multiple starters coming from transfers in the past three years. The Panthers are also adding a Columbia wrestler in talented lightweight Nick Babin (125). They added a second lightweight in Evan Tallmadge (125) from the Naval Academy. Mateo de la Pena (165) transfers from California Baptist and Chase Kranitz (184) from Buffalo. 

    Virginia Tech was the final ACC team to add wrestlers from the portal. The two new Hokies will be immediate impact guys in the lineup. Lennox Wolak (174) is the final Columbia wrestler making the move to the ACC; he announced his transfer prior to Tanelli being added to the staff. They also added Connor McGonagle (133) from Lehigh who will slide in at 133 with Sam Latona moving up to 141 next year. 


    As we all know, there is no real off-season from wrestling. Usually, freestyle takes center mat during the summer, but we will see ACC wrestlers competing in a couple different folkstyle and folkstyle-esque events in the next few weeks as two organizations are putting on showcase events in hopes of developing a professional wrestling league. 

    The Championship Wrestling Association Showcase will be held on June 15th in Murrysville, PA. There will be several former ACC wrestlers taking the mat in their showcase bouts. Pittsburgh grad Micky Phillippi will face Nashon Garrett and fellow Panther grad Demetrius Thomas will square off with Jordan Wood. We will also have not one, but two Finesilvers returning to the mat, and they will both face other ACC alumni. Mitch Finesilver will wrestle former Tar Heel Evan Henderson while Matt Finesilver will face the LIVE WRESTLING man himself, Trent Hidlay. 

    The following weekend, June 22-23, CLAW will host their second event, following their debut tournament last summer. The two-day event will feature a mini-tournament on Saturday to determine the finalists who will be in the main event on Sunday. CLAW features a modified rule set that they believe will excite fans and get more action on the mat. They are attempting to start a professional league in 2025. The full entrant list has not been released, but I expect to see several current ACC wrestlers in the mix. 

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