2021-22 Preseason All-ACC Teams

2021 NCAA Champion Austin O'Connor (Photo/Tony Rotundo;

InterMat has released its preseason All-ACC first and second teams, along with preseason conference Wrestler of the Year, preseason Newcomer of the Year, and preseason team favorite. We've used the term "Newcomer" since there is the possibility of wrestlers that competed at the national tournament in 2021, being called "freshmen."

First-Team Preseason All-ACC

125 - Sam Latona (Virginia Tech) 2021 NCAA 6th, 2021 ACC Champ

133 - Korbin Myers (Virginia Tech) 2021 NCAA 4th, 2021 ACC Champ

141 - Kizhan Clarke (North Carolina) 2020 NCAA Qualifier

149 - Tariq Wilson (NC State) 2x NCAA All-American, 2021 ACC Champ

157 - Austin O'Connor (North Carolina) 2021 NCAA Champ, 2x ACC Champ

165 - Jake Wentzel (Pittsburgh) 2021 NCAA Runner-Up, 2x ACC Champ

174 - Mekhi Lewis (Virginia Tech) 2019 NCAA Champ, 2019 ACC Champ

184 - Trent Hidlay (NC State) 2019 NCAA Runner-Up, 2021 ACC Champ

197 - Nino Bonaccorsi (Pittsburgh) 2021 NCAA Runner-Up, 2021 ACC Champ

285 - Nathan Traxler (Virginia Tech) 4x NCAA Qualifier, 2x NCAA Round of 12, 2019 Pac-12 Champ

Second-Team Preseason All-ACC

125 - Jakob Camacho (NC State)

133 - Micky Phillipi (Pittsburgh)

141 - Cole Matthews (Pittsburgh)

149 - Zach Sherman (North Carolina)

157 - Jake Keating (Virginia)

165 - Thomas Bullard (NC State)

174 - Hayden Hidlay (NC State)

184 - Hunter Bolen (Virginia Tech)

197 - Jay Aiello (Virginia)

285 - Deonte Wilson (NC State)

Preseason ACC Wrestler of the Year: Austin O'Connor

An NCAA title at 149 lbs during the 2021 season put Austin O'Connor into the record books at the University of North Carolina. O'Connor became the school's first national champion since TJ Jaworsky achieved the feat for the third and final time in 1995. He also is just the fourth Tar Heel wrestler to win a national title, joining Jaworsky, CD Mock, and Rob Koll. Of course, O'Connor is now the first champion (or finalist) to compete under current head coach Coleman Scott.

O'Connor's perfect 13-0 season put him in select company with Jaworsky (1994-95) and Mock (1981-82) as the program's only undefeated national champions. To win his title, O'Connor needed to fend off an undefeated opponent, himself, as he defeated Big Ten champion and #2 seed, Sammy Sasso (Ohio State).

Austin was named the number one seed after winning his second ACC title in two years. Both wins came at the expense of Virginia Tech's Bryce Andonian, a Junior World bronze medalist, in 2021. In the 2021 final, O'Connor fell behind the dangerous Hokie 6-0, yet kept his composure and chipped away for a 10-8 win.

O'Connor's first win over Andonian in a conference final netted him the #2 seed at the 2020 NCAA Championships. Had that tournament been held, O'Connor would have been a significant threat as he possessed a 25-1 record.

Through three years of official competition, O'Connor possesses a 72-7 record and has finished first and third in his two NCAA appearances. He was also named a first-team All-American in 2020 by the NWCA. O'Connor will move up to 157 lbs for the 2021-21 campaign. He starts the year ranked second in the nation, behind undefeated national champion, David Carr (Iowa State).

Preseason ACC Newcomer of the Year: Ryan Jack (NC State)

With most ACC schools featuring veteran-heavy lineups, there are few opportunities for freshmen to breakthrough. One of those few notable freshmen could come from Raleigh, North Carolina, in the Wolfpack's, Ryan Jack. Younger brother of new NC State volunteer assistant, Kevin, Ryan will not take the country by storm like his brother did in 2014-15.

Jack was in action last year for NC State, seeing action in three dual meets during a 7-3 true freshman season. He picked up his first dual win by teching Drake Doolittle (Duke) 20-3. One of Jack's signature wins came in the second week of the year when he posted a 9-2 victory over the eventual SoCon champion Sean Carter (Appalachian State).

Preseason Team Favorite: NC State

With three All-Americans returning and fresh off a sixth-place finish at the 2021 NCAA Championships, the NC State Wolfpack will be a hard team to beat in 2021-22. Not only does head coach Pat Popolizio's team have All-American star power, but they also have five others with past NCAA experience on the roster. That type of experience will help NC State compete for an NCAA trophy in addition to conference supremacy.

Inside the conference, NC State wrestlers accounted for half of the individual ACC champions in 2021. That type of performance helped distance the Wolfpack from rival Virginia Tech. But, if history is any indication, NC State will not walk away with another ACC crown without a substantial fight. The Hokies actually defeated NC State in one of the year's best duals and went unbeaten in the league. The two schools have gone back-and-forth in dual action, with all of their recent meetings coming down to a final bout. Looking beyond Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Pittsburgh have both started to hit their stride and could push the top-two in 2021-22.

InterMat's preseason rankings have nine NC State wrestlers within the top-33 of their respective weight classes and four in the top-12.


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dlmanning (1) about a month and a half ago
Great write up. Can’t wait for ACC wrestling to begin!