NC State wins third straight ACC wrestling title

The Wolfpack wins five individual titles on the way to a dominating performance in the conference championship meet

Coach Pat Popolizio and his NC State wrestling team celebrate their third straight ACC championship, won in dominating fashion Sunday at Reynolds Coliseum. (Andrew Mead / ACC photo pool)

NC State saw its nation’s best 22-dual match winning streak come to an end earlier this month when it lost to Virginia Tech on a tiebreaker after battling to a draw in the team score.

Sunday, at the ACC Championship meet, the Wolfpack didn’t leave anything to chance.

Winning five individual titles, including a fourth straight by 157-pounder Hayden Hidlay, State dominated the competition for its third straight conference title Sunday at Reynolds Coliseum.

Coach Pat Popolizio’s team rolled up 89.5 points to easily outdistance runnerup Virginia Tech, which finished with 65.5 points.

North Carolina finished third 63 points, followed by Virginia with 55, Pittsburgh with 45 and Duke with 7.5.

In addition to Hidlay, who has never lost to an ACC opponent and is ranked No. 2 nationally, State’s other conference champions are his younger brother Trent at 184, Tariq Wilson at 141, Daniel Bullard at 174 and heavyweight Deonte Wilson.

UNC’s Austin O’Connor successfully defended his conference title with a 10-8 decision against Virginia Tech’s Bryce Andonian at 147.

State built up a huge early lead in the team competition while placing six wrestlers into the finals of the 10 weight classes.

Tariq Wilson was the first of the group to take the match and he set the tone with a dominating performance that included a pair of near falls on the way to a 10-1 major decision against UNC’s Zach Sherman.

The title was Wilson’s first after two straight runnerup finishes, including a heartbreaking 5-4 loss to Sherman last year.

Hayden Hidlay then made short work against Virginia’s Justin McCoy. He scored five takedowns and added an extra point with 2:20 of riding time for a 12-3 major decision that made him only the 10th wrestler in ACC history and the fifth Wolfpack wrestler to win four straight conference championships.

Bullard then won his first career title by beating UNC’s Clay Lautt 4-2 in overtime. The senior, whose twin brother Thomas finished third at 165 pounds, scored an escape with one minute remaining in regulation before getting a decisive takedown 34 seconds into overtime.

Trent Hidley also had to work overtime to win his first crown and join his brother as an ACC champion, shocking top-seeded Hunter Bolen of Virginia Tech with a takedown just eight seconds into the extra period for a 3-1 victory.

Deonte Wilson became the third Wolfpack to win an ACC championship in overtime, also beating a Hokies wrestler, staying undefeated for the season with a 2-1 triumph against Hunter Chatka. 

The sixth State wrestler to make it to the finals, 2020 conference champion Jakob Camacho, was beaten 2-1 in overtime by Sam Latona of Virginia Tech.

In addition to the five ACC champions and one finalist, the Wolfpack had two others qualify for the NCAA Championship in St. Louis on March 18-20.