NC State Wrestling Prepares To Open 2003-04 Season At Campbell
Nov. 18, 2003
RALEIGH, N.C. - With three two-time Atlantic Coast Conference champions anchoring the middle of the lineup, the NC State wrestling team embarks on the 2003-04 season with a dual match Wednesday night at Campbell.
With seniors Jake Giamoni (23-10) at 149 pounds, Scott Garren (18-2) at 157 and Dustin Kawa (22-6 overall, 18-4 at 165) at 165, NC State is rock solid in the middle of the order. Giamoni and Kawa each have won the last two conference titles at their weight classifications, while Garren won conference championships in 2000 and 2003 (he was injured for the 2001 and '02 ACC Championships).
Two other returning starters will be on the mat against the Camels on Wednesday night. Junior Daniel Pacitti (8-13) will start at 133, and Daniel Humphries (8-11) will move down a weight to be the starter at 184. Humphries was NC State's primary starter at 197 a year ago.
As a team, the Wolfpack (8-10 overall, 2-3 in the ACC a year ago) is looking to atone for an injury-plagued 2002-03 season that resulted in only the second losing season in head coach Bob Guzzo's 29 years at the helm. With a strong nucleus returning, augmented by a deep recruiting class, The Wolfpack should contend for its third ACC championship in the last four years, and hopefully contend for national honors that have eluded the current senior class.
"This should be a very good year for us," Guzzo says. "We have no excuses. These kids now have to step up and get the job done. We've been kind of hanging around and knocking on the door and that kind of thing, and now it's time for these kids to step up and show the maturity that they have and the experience that they have and be competitive. We should be very competitive with some of the top teams in the country."
Three freshmen and a junior college transfer will take up four of the five remaining spots in the starting lineup. Jeff Breese will take the mat at 125, with Zach Garren, Scott's younger brother, at 197, and Cary High School product Jainor Palma starting at heavyweight.
Breese, who redshirted a year ago while George Cintron completed his career at 125, is a two-time state champion from Pennsylvania and one of the most highly recruited athletes to enter the program in recent years. Garren finished in the top five in the state of New Jersey the last two years, and Palma's only loss in 51 matches as a senior at Cary last season was in the state championship match.
The final spot in the order will be at 174, where sophomore Michael Waite (0-4 as a backup to Kawa at 165 a year ago) will be on the mat against the Camels.
Injuries derailed NC State much of last season, and at one point, Garren, Kawa and Kevin Gabrielson (174, redshirting this season) all went down at the same time. The Pack did not have enough depth to respond, especially in the postseason. Guzzo recruited to fill immediate needs and to provide depth, and he seems to have succeeded on both counts.
"Last year we lacked depth, and once our first-liners were out of there with injuries, we just didn't have the people to step in," Guzzo says. "This year, I really feel we have depth, especially in the light and middle weights, and we have a good nucleus of front-line guys returning. I think we've put together a really good team, a team that should be able to challenge for the conference championship. We have some kids who are really committed. We have an excellent group of seniors who have a lot of experience."