Wrestling Takes On Big Ten Powers In ACC/Big Ten Clash
RALEIGH, N.C. NC State will begin the dual-match portion of the 2008-09 wrestling schedule Saturday in Chapel Hill at the ACC/Big Ten Clash. The Wolfpack will take on Illinios at noon, Michigan State at 2 p.m., and Wisconsin at 4 p.m.
The Big Ten annually ranks among college wrestling power conferences, and Illinois and Wisconsin are among eight teams ranked in the latest USA Today/Intermat poll. Five of those eight are in the top 10. The Illini are No. 9, the Badgers No. 12. Illinois, Michigan State and Wisconsin have a combined 14 wrestlers in this week’s rankings, including three returning All-Americans. Illinois alone has seven, four of them ranked in the top 10 of their respective weight classifications.
Jimmy Kennedy (No. 4 at 133) and Mike Poeta (No. 2 at 157) rank in the national top 5 for Illinois. The highest-ranked wrestler in the field other than Poeta are Michigan State’s Franklin Gomez (No. 3 at 133) and Wisconsin’s Kyle Massey (No. 3 at heavyweight). Kennedy, Poeta and Gomez were All-Americans in 2007-08.
The three Big Ten schools will take on NC State, North Carolina and Virginia beginning at noon. This year marks the third year of the ACC/Big Ten Clash.
“The Big Ten has a great tradition in wrestling, and Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan State are all a big part of that reputation,” NC State head coach Carter Jordan said. “They have outstanding programs, and this will be a challenging weekend for us. We welcome that. The challenge will be good for our program. We’ve come a long way the last few years and this will be a good measuring stick as to just how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go to get this program to where we want it to be.”
A year ago, NC State earned its first top 25 finish in 15 years and had its first All-American, 149-pounder Darrion Caldwell, in 12 years. The Wolfpack has added to its talent base each of Jordan’s five years as head coach, and the program has begun to show some depth at certain weight classes.
NC State will be led by Caldwell, a junior, who won the Wolfpack Open at 149 last weekend while wrestling unattached. He defeated fifth-ranked Lance Palmer of Ohio State 2-1 in the finals. Junior 125-pounder Taylor Cummings finished second at 125, and redshirt-freshman Mike Moreno was fourth at 125. Both wrestled unattached. True freshman Jake Burge took fourth at 174. Heavyweight Bobby Isola and 184/197-pounder Mark Jahad did not participate. Senior 197-pounder Ryan Goodman, ranked 15th, is with the NC State football team and will not be available to wrestle until after football season. Senior 141-pounder Joe Caramanica, ranked 18th, is nursing a knee injury and will not be available.
“We’re not at full strength with Joe and Ryan out of the lineup, but no excuses,” Jordan said. “Darrion Caldwell is an All-American, and Kody Hamrah and Taylor Cummings are former conference champions. Jake Burge is one of the top freshmen in the country. Darrius Little and Bobby Isola are very talented and should be able to compete with anyone.”
Following are NC State’s probable starters for Saturday’s ACC/Big Ten Clash:
125 Taylor Cummings (0-0), R-Jr., Bloomsburg, Pa.
133 Darius Little (0-0), So., Thomasville, N.C..
141 Ryan Tice (0-0), R-Jr., Middletown, Md.
149 #4 Darrion Caldwell (0-0), Jr., Rahway, N.J.
157 Kody Hamrah (0-0), R-Sr., Middlesex, N.J.
165 Quinton Godley (0-0), Fr., Greenville, N.C.
or Anthony Badaracco (0-0), R-Jr., Vineland, N.J.
174 Jake Burge (0-0), Fr., Mason, Mich.
184 Hank Penree (0-0), Fr., Frankfort, N.Y.
197 Mark Jahad (9-16), Sr., Apex, N.C.
Hwt Bobby Isola (0-0), So., Orlando, Fla.