BLACKSBURG, VA. — By placing six of its 10 wrestlers into the ACC Finals, and claiming three individual titles, the NC State wrestling team won the 2019 ACC Championship held in Blacksburg Saturday night.
R-So. Hayden Hidlay (157 pounds) won his second straight ACC title, R-Sr. Jamel Morris (141) captured ACC gold in his first ACC Championship, and fellow R-Sr. Malik McDonald (197) capped his career with his first ACC title. In addition, Sean Fausz (125), Tariq Wilson (133), and Thomas Bullard (165) all claimed second place finishes.
In all, 9 of the 10 Wolfpack wrestlers finished third or better (the 10th placed fourth), and all nine of of those top-three finishers qualified for the NCAA Championships by claiming an automatic bid.
NC State won the team race with 93.5 points. Host Virginia Tech was second with 86 points, North Carolina third (47.5), Pitt fourth (41), Duke fifth (39), and Virginia sixth (27.5).
The ACC Championship is the second for head coach Pat Popolizio since 2016. NC State has also claimed the ACC Dual Championship each of the past two seasons.
NC State placed six into the ACC Finals, with all six also claiming an NCAA allocation at their weight.
R-Sr. Jamel Morris brought home the Pack’s first ACC title of the night, in his first ACC Champion appearance. Entering as the top seed at 141 pounds with a perfect 4-0 dual record, Morris went 2-0 on the day. In the finals vs. Virginia Tech’s Moore, Morris scored a takedown and a two-point near fall to jump out to an early lead and won 6-2.
R-So. Hayden Hidlay defending his ACC title and brought home the championship once again at 157 pounds.
Also claimed in first ACC Championship in his final campaign, R-Sr. Malik McDonald socred wins over a pair of top-11 wrestlers and won the 197-pound title. In the finals, McDonald scored a 13-6 decision over top seeded and No. 7 ranked Aiello of Virginia.
R-Sr. Sean Fausz reached the ACC Finals for the fourth consecutive year, but fell to No. 5 Mueller of Virginia 10-2 at 125 pounds.
R-So. Tariq Wilson reached the ACC finals for the first time in his career, but fell to No. 5 Phillippi of Pitt 4-1 at 133 pounds.
A third member of the Pack advanced to the ACC Finals for the first time, R-So. Thomas Bullard at 165 pounds. He fell in the title bout to No. 8 Lewis of Virginia Tech 7-4, but limiting Lewis to just a decision clinched the team title for the Wolfpack.
CONSOLATION FINALS RECAP
NC State won three of its four third place bouts, picking up an additional NCAA allocation.
Gr. Justin Oliver scored a big head-to-head win over Virginia Tech, downing Blees thanks to a takedown in the second and two-point near fall in the third for the 6-1 win.
With only three NCAA allocations at 174, R-So. Daniel Bullard secured a bid to NCAAs for the second year in a row with an 18-3 tech fall over UNC’s Kane.
R-So. Nick Reenan also captured third place, after he downed returning All-American Chip Ness from UNC 12-8.
Fr. Deonte Wilson placed fourth in his first trip to the ACC Championships, and fell one win short of advancing to the NCAAs.
CONSOLATION SEMIFINALS RECAP
All four Wolfpack wrestlers that wrestled in this round won, and advanced to their third place bouts, with two earning NCAA bids.
Oliver was the first to punch his ticket to the NCAAs in this round, as he scored an 11-3 major decision to advance to the third place bout.
Daniel Bullard avenged a regular season loss and scored an 8-2 win (with 3:33 of RT).
Reenan was an offensive machine and his match ended early with a 21-6 tech fall, as he also advanced to the NCAAs with the win.
Wilson picked up his second win of the day, a dominating 9-0 major decision at heavyweight.
NC State had all 10 wrestlers advance to the semifinals, and six won and advanced to the ACC Finals. In doing so, all six earned an automatic NCAA bid.
All with a first round bye, Fausz (125), Wilson (133) and Morris (141) all recorded takedowns in the first 10 seconds of their opening bouts.
Fausz scored four takedowns, two in the first, and collected a 10-1 major decision. Wilson used a reversal and a takedown in the third to seal his 7-4 win. Morris was up 5-0 in takedowns and hung on for the 14-11 win.
Hidlay made short work of his first opponent, as his bout ended in the second period with a 16-0 tech fall win. Hidlay scored a first period takedown, then a pair of two-point near falls followed by two four-point near falls.
The Pack’s two other semifinal winners both avenged regular season losses. Thomas Bullard (174) scored a four-point near fall in the third period to score a 7-1 win over Virginia’s Coy. McDonald (197) forced a stall call with seven seconds left and downed Virginia Tech’s Sleigh 3-2.
FIRST ROUND RECAP
The Wolfpack went a perfect six-for-six in the first round, with its first three wins of the day all by major decision.
Oliver started the Pack’s day with a 12-0 major decision. Oliver scored a first period takedown and added a four-point near fall to build an early 6-0 lead.
Both Bullard’s opened with dominating major decisions. Daniel won 9-1 (with 5:32 of RT) at 165, and Daniel followed 11-1 (with 3:41) of RT at 174.
Reenan had the most exciting win of the first round to advance 11-8. With the score tied 7-7 and UVA with the RT point locked, Reenan scored a takedown and a two-point near fall in the final three seconds.
McDonald was clinical with a 4-0 decision at 197 pounds, and Wilson capped the first round with a pair of takedowns in his 8-3 decision.
NC State concludes its season with a trip up to Pittsburgh for the 2019 NCAA Championships March 21-23.