Jan. 8, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. -
After battling in five grueling individual tournaments, the NC State wrestling squad will head to Campbell in Buies Creek, N.C., to kick off their dual season Wednesday night. The Pack will first face VMI at 6:30 p.m., and then square off against host Campbell at 8 p.m.
There will be no live scoring of the matches, but follow the Pack on twitter @PackWrestle for live updates. Video will also be available of the Pack’s match against Campbell for $3.95. For more info, click here.
It is predicted to be an exciting day for the Wolfpack wrestlers, as it marks the first dual matches coached by a new staff, led by first-year head coach Pat Popolizio.
Among the squad’s finest is 165-pound wrestler Nijel Jones. Jones, a junior from Asheville, has an impressive record of 20-6 losses for the season. This has been a breakout season for Jones with a first place finish at the Reno Tournament of Champions, a second place finish at the Wolfpack Open, a fifth place finish at the Keystone Classic, and a fifth place finish at the Penn State Open.
In the latest rankings in the 165-pound weight class, Jones is ranked 17th by Amateur Wrestling News, 23rd by TheWrestlingReport.com, and 25th by D1Collegewrestling.net.
Jones began his career with the Wolfpack fluctuating between various weight classes. With the approach of his freshman season’s close, Jones eventually steadied at the 165-pound weight class. As a sophomore, Jones started at the 165-pound weight class and recorded 21 wins for the Pack. In addition to the usual challenges that come with a new season, Jones has had to adjust to a brand new coaching staff.
This year, Jones was introduced to an entirely new coaching staff, including head coach Pat Popolizio, assistant
coaches Frank Beasley and Jamill Kelly. The unfamiliarity of a complete change in staff can be difficult for any athlete. A great deal of patience is required when adjusting to the expectations and athletic culture of a new coach. Despite this drastic change in command, Jones not only accepted the challenge, but has also emerged a team leader.
Jones is helping guide the team and mentoring the younger kids on how to excel through hard work and persistence. Through his own outstanding performance, he hopes to set the standard for their younger teammates.
Jones believes that NC State’s performance at the ACC qualifying tournament will take many by surprise. He says that aside from the team’s talent, the Pack will have an advantage over opposing teams through sheer unexpectedness.
When asked about his individual goals for the season, Jones said, “I think I have a chance to win a ACC Championship. I want to do that. I also think I can All-American in the NCAA National Tournament this year”.
Jones is an electrifying wrestler who specializes in the use of his upper body strength and technique to throw his opponents to their backs. He is a hard working individual who leads not only by instruction, but also, and more importantly, by example. He is a wrestler to watch this year and is a contender for All-American honors in this years’ NCAA tournament.