March 18, 2014
NC State Media Packet | NCAA Brackets | Watch on ESPN3
RALEIGH, N.C. – The NC State wrestling team will have five wrestlers competing at the 2014 NCAA Championships March 20-22 in Oklahoma City, Okla. Under second-year head coach Pat Popolizio, the Pack will be sending at least five individuals to the NCAA Championships for only the third time over the past 10 years.
Redshirt-senior KaRonne Jones (197 pounds), junior Tommy Gantt (157), redshirt-sophomore Nick Gwiazdowski (285), sophomore Sam Speno (141), and freshman Pete Renda (174) all were awarded NCAA automatic bids based on their finishes at the ACC Championship on March 8.
The NCAA Championships begin Thursday with first round action, and ESPN3 will broadcast matches from all eight mats throughout the weekend.
NC State NCAA Championship Tradition
NC State wrestling has a rich tradition of performing well at the NCAA Championships. NC State has finished in the top 10 nationally three times, including a seventh-place finish in 1993, the best-ever showing at nationals. The Wolfpack has finished in the national top 25 in 14 of the last 34 seasons as well.
Five individuals have claimed national titles. Matt Reiss at 177 pounds in 1980, Tab Thacker at heavyweight in 1984, Scott Turner at 150 pounds in 1988, Sylvester Terkay at heavyweight in 1993, and most recently Darrion Caldwell won the 149 pound title in 2009 winning all five bouts by a combined 52-12.
NC State has also had two runner-ups (Michael Stokes-126 in 1989 and Terkay-Hwt in 1992.) In all, 17 NC State wrestlers have earned 27 All-America honors, the last was Darrius Little in 2012 at 141 pounds.
Gwiazdowski Earns National Seed, Looks to Repeat as All-American
Redshirt-sophomore Nick Gwiazdowski enters the 2014 NCAA Championships as the overall No. 2 seed at 285 pounds.
Gwiazdowski is the first Wolfpack wrestler to be seeded since Darrius Little was eighth at 141 pounds in 2012, and he is the Pack’s highest seed since Darrion Caldwell was the top-seed at 149 pounds in 2011.
This year marks Gwiazdowski’s second appearance at the NCAA Championships. As a true-freshman at Binghamton in 2012, he placed eighth earning All-America honors. That season, he lost his first bout, but then won five of six.
141: Sam Speno (24-13)
A two-time NCAA qualifier, he competed at the NCAA Championships at 133 pounds as a freshman in 2013 and will compete at 141 pounds this year … Went 0-2 last year, falling 11-6 and 10-4 … Earned one of the five ACC automatic bids at 141 pounds, entered as the sixth seed and went 2-2 to finish fourth … Recorded a 7-2 decision over #26 Shyheim Brown of Maryland in the consolation semifinals to clinch the NCAA bid. Two losses at the ACC Championship were both to #9 Evan Henderson of North Carolina … Only NC State wrestler to compete at 141 pounds this season … One of only two 2013-14 NC State starters (Gantt-157) that was also a starter last year … Saw a big improvement from last year, going 16-14 as a freshman at 133 pounds to 24-13 this year at 141 pounds … His 24 wins rank fourth on the Pack, and his 16 dual wins are tied for second-best … Scored his first career pin in SV1 vs. #30 Pasquale Greco of Northwestern in the Pack’s final dual of the season on Feb. 22.
157: Tommy Gantt (32-8)
Earned one of only two ACC automatic bids at 157 pounds, entered as the second seed and went 2-1 to finish second. Fell in the championship bout 3-2 to #14 Blaise Butler of Virginia, and earned All-ACC honors … In the semifinals bout with only the winner earning an NCAA bid, defeated #24 Immanuel Kerr-Brown of Duke 7-3 to qualify for NCAAs for the first time in his career … Ranks second on the Pack with his 32 wins, and his 16 dual wins are tied for second-best. Also leads the Pack with five tech fall wins … In the NC State record books, his 32 wins are 11th-best in a single season at NC State and the fourth-most for a junior … Named team captain in October … One of only two 2013-14 NC State starters (Speno-141) that was also a starter last year.
174: Pete Renda (27-9)
Earned one of the three ACC automatic bids at 174 pounds, entered as the third seed and went 3-1 to finish third … Had to win his final two bouts to earn NCAA bid, won 4-0 in the consolation semifinals and then 5-0 in the third place match to clinch NCAA bid … His 27 wins this season are the third-most for a freshman in NC State history, the record is 29 (Mike Kobb-1977, Matt Reiss-1980) … One of two NC State wrestlers (Gwiazdowski) to be ranked the majority of the year … Ranks third on NC State with 27 wins, his 16 dual wins are tied for second-best, and his six pins are also second-best … A perfect 12-0 in bonus point victories: six by pin, five by major decision and one by tech fall … Third straight year NC State had a true freshman qualify for NCAA Championships, Colton Fought at 125 in 2012 and Sam Speno at 133 in 2013.
197: KaRonne Jones (14-13)
Earned one of the five ACC automatic bids at 197 pounds, entered as the sixth seed and went 2-2 to finish fifth … In his final bout with only the winner earning an NCAA bid, defeated #15 Nick Bonaccorsi of Pittsburgh 5-3 to qualify for NCAAs for the first time in his career. Avenged a 10-5 defeat in the regular season dual versus Pittsburgh … Also holds a dual win over 2014 ACC Champion then-#22 Chris Penny of Virginia Tech (5-3, SV1) this year … A three-year starter for NC State at 197 pounds … Only senior in the Pack’s starting lineup at the ACC Championship … Started his season with a 4-1 record and third place finish in the Wolfpack Open … Redshirted last season. He competed in one tournament, placing seventh at the Penn State Open going 6-2.
285: No. 2 seed Nick Gwiazdowski (37-2)
The No. 2 seed at 285 pounds, the Pack’s highest seed since Darrion Caldwell was the top-seed at 149 pounds in 2011 … 2014 ACC Champion at 285 pounds, the Pack’s first individual champion since 2011 … Has won 15 straight matches dating back to Jan. 2 … Eight of his last 10 wins were against ranked opponents, including a 5-3 SV1 defeat of then-#1 Michael McMullan of Northwestern on Feb. 22 … Leads the Pack in wins (37) and pins (16). His 37 wins are the fourth-most in a season at NCSU, most for a sophomore, and his 16 pins are the fifth-most all-time. The 37 wins are the most among all weight classes in the entire NCAA field … Was a perfect 20-0 in duals this year, with 17 bonus point wins (10 falls, 6 major decisions, 1 forfeit) … Finished 8th at the 2012 NCAA Championships to claim All-America honors as a true freshman at Binghamton. Lost his first bout, then won five of six.