NC State Wrestling Heads Into 2005-06 With Young, Talented And Eager Team
Nov. 11, 2005
RALEIGH, N.C. - Carter Jordan probably wasn't sure exactly what to expect from his first season as head wrestling coach at NC State. What he got was a transition year, but the transition is over.
The Wolfpack was up and down most of last season, never gaining any traction or momentum, and skidded home with an 8-8 final regular-season record and a third-place finish at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships. With eight starters returning in 2005-06 and a strong recruiting class on hand, Jordan is enthusiastic and optimistic as the Pack kicks off the season vs. Newberry and The Citadel on Saturday in Charleston, S.C.
"It was just a different deal last year," Jordan says. "I'm steering the ship now, and there are no questions now about who's steering the ship. Everybody's on board. I don't think that was necessarily the case last year, so it's a different attitude and a different mindset this year. We've got a great group of young guys who work extremely hard and are tremendously dedicated to wrestling. Because of them, I'm really excited about the upcoming season."
Last year was the first time in more than a decade that NC State did not have a returning ACC champion on the roster. Depending on how senior Kevin Gabrielson's knee heals, there may not be a returning conference champion in the lineup this year as well. Unlike a year ago, however, the Wolfpack will have a veteran or a nationally heralded recruit at almost every spot in the lineup.
Gabrielson, 20-9 and the ACC champion at 174 a year ago, will move down to 165 this season, but probably will not be available before January. Gabrielson blew out a knee 20 seconds into his first match at the NCAA Championships last March, knocking him from the tournament and forcing him into an extensive rehabilitation.
When Gabrielson returns, he will team with sophomore 157-pounder Kody Hamrah (17-10 and the 2005 ACC Rookie of the Year) to give the Wolfpack a solid 1-2 punch in the middle of the lineup.
"Kevin still has a ways to go with his knee, but I expect him to be back, and I expect he will have a terrific senior season," Jordan says. "Kevin is a very talented college wrestler, and capable of being a big winner for us.
"And what can you say about Kody Hamrah? ACC Rookie of the Year, a tireless worker, wants to be great, pushes himself every day to be great. He had an outstanding freshman season, and everyone is looking to him for big things as a sophomore. Having those two back-to-back will make the middle of our lineup very strong."
The rest of the lineup is dotted with experienced veterans or very talented newcomers. In addition to Gabrielson and Hamrah, returning starters include redshirt-juniors Garrett Cummings (18-9 a year ago) and Jeremy Hartrum (13-10 two years ago) at 125, redshirt-junior Jeff Breese (4-5 at 133 a year ago) at 133, sophomore Jeremy Colbert at 184 and junior Jainor Palma (17-14) at heavyweight. Junior Rick Brownlee started at 165 two years ago and should be the starter this season at 174 after a terrific performance this past summer at the Junior National Greco-Roman Championships.
The freshman class is highlighted by a pair of nationally heralded recruits. Joe Caramanica comes to the Wolfpack from Nazareth, Pa., where he won back-to-back state championship at 145 pounds as a junior and senior. He ranked No. 4 nationally at that weight as a senior and figures to start at 149 for the Wolfpack as a freshman.
"Joe Caramanica is extremely talented and very easy to coach," Jordan says. "He came from a terrific high school program and we're looking forward to some great things from him."
Then there is Ryan Goodman, a redshirt-freshman and a transfer from Nebraska who will start at 197. The Wolfpack has added a number of top-ranked high schoolers over the last 10 years or so. Goodman, however, not only was ranked No. 1 in the country at his weight class two years ago at Absegami High School in Cape May, N.J., he was considered one of the top three wrestlers in the country regardless of weight classification. His confidence is contagious.
"He has already changed, and will continue to change, the mentality of everyone around him," Jordan says.
Following is a position-by-position look at the 2005-06 NC State wrestling team:
125 pounds: This is easily the deepest position on the team, with redshirt-juniors Garrett Cummings and Jeremy Hartrum both having extensive experience as starters. Hartrum, who won the wrestle-off and will be the starter, was injured most of last season and also wrestled at 133, which is not his best weight. He was ranked No. 1 nationally at 112 pounds out of high school, and appears ready to fulfill the lofty expectations he brought with him from his prep days.
Cummings may be the best backup in the ACC and will push Hartrum the entire season. Cummings won his first seven matches and swept the Navy Classic en route to an 18-9 mark as the starter a year ago.
"We really have an abundance of riches at 125," Jordan says. "Jeremy Hartrum is wrestling at very high level in practice and appears ready to have a breakout year. And it's not as if Garrett Cummings is wrestling poorly, because he's not. Jeremy had to wrestle well to beat Garrett, and it's just too bad we can't drop one of them down a weight, because they both can win for us."
133 pounds: Redshirt-junior Jeff Breese, a two-time state champion in Pennsylvania, has battled enough injuries for an entire team of wrestlers. He was finally healthy and working his way back into the groove last season, but was asked midway through the year to move up to 141, where he found himself facing opponents much stronger than he was accustomed to wrestling. Back at 133 this season, Breese hopefully will find a comfort zone and experience some success.
"Jeff Breese will be back down at 133 this year," Jordan says. "He wrestled up at 141 for us last year and that's just not a good weight for him. We expect that after a couple of years injured and coming back last year and feeling his way back that he can really help us this year."
141 pounds: Redshirt-freshman Jalil Dozier was outstanding in the preseason and defeated redshirt-sophomore Rod McCollum for the starting nod. While this is one of just two spots in the lineup that does not feature either a veteran incumbent or a heralded recruit, the coaches feel Dozier has the talent to contend for all-star honors.
149 pounds: Freshman Joe Caramanica was a two-time state champion in Pennsylvania who posted a 142-27 record in four years against some of the best competition in the country. He finished his senior campaign ranked No. 4 in the country at 145, and will fit right into the lineup at 149.
157 pounds: Sophomore Kody Hamrah came to the Wolfpack a year ago as a high school All-American and, following a brief adjustment period, blossomed at the collegiate level as well. Hamrah won 10 of his last 12 matches on the season, including eight in a row at one point, to win ACC Rookie of the Year honors. He lost in the ACC finals and did not receive an at -large bid to the NCAA Championships, but he is good enough to challenge for All-America honors.
165 pounds: Until Kevin Gabrielson (20-9 with nine pins a year ago, 38-26 with 16 pins for his career) is healthy enough to claim the starting spot, junior Cameron Reeves (1-2 a year ago) and redshirt-junior Michael Waite 4-5 at 174 in 2003-04) will battle for the starting spot.
174 pounds: Junior Rick Brownlee always had the skills and the toughness to compete. A strong performance at the Junior National Greco-Roman Championships this past summer gave him a confidence boost that should take him to another level in the collegiate ranks.
"Rick really gained a tremendous amount of confidence out of this summer at the Junior Nationals," Jordan says. "Don't be surprised if he has a big breakout season this year because he's really wrestling well right now."
184 pounds: Sophomore Jeremy Colbert came to NC State as a high school All-American last year, but probably was forced into the lineup a year before he was ready for collegiate competition. His 7-19 record at 184 last season indicates how difficult his freshman season was, but does not reflect the progress he made from the beginning of the season to the end. That should become apparent in 2005-06.
"Jeremy had a tough first season, no doubt about it," Jordan says. "But let me tell you, he's an entirely different wrestler now than he was when he first got here. He was pretty much thrown to the wolves as a freshman, but he'll be ready for whatever comes his way this season."
197 pounds: Worried about excessive expectations, coaches are usually careful not to be too effusive in praising an individual athlete. That really has not been the case for Jordan when discussing Ryan Goodman, a two-time state champion who has won 78 consecutive matches dating back to high school (counting six matches he wrestled unattached last year at Nebraska while redshirting). He went 112-5 his last three years in high school and has not lost a match in almost three years. Goodman is arguably the most heralded wrestling recruit NC State ever has landed, and the expectations are admittedly high.
"He has wrestled very little in more than a year and was with the football team for most of the fall (Goodman is a quarterback), so he was not in wrestling shape when he joined the team in October," Jordan says. "We'll see when he competes, but he's really good. He has a chance to be a special wrestler here."
Heavyweight: Jainor Palma (17-14 a year ago and 28-30 for his career) will be a third-year starter this season who has steadily improved since his freshman year.
"Jainor has settled in and is our starting heavyweight," Jordan says. "We expect a lot out of Jainor, and Jainor expects a lot out of himself and he should. He's a third-year starter now. He looks great in practice and he's been working very hard."