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From the ACC
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (theACC.com) – NC State placed seven wrestlers in the finals and claimed four gold medals in capturing the Atlantic Coast Conference Wrestling Championship title for the fourth consecutive year Sunday night at UVA’s John Paul Jones Arena.
The Wolfpack became the first wrestling program since North Carolina in 1997-2000 to win the ACC Championship four straight years. It marks the first time since 1988-91 that NC State has won four titles in a row.
This year’s league wrestling championship is the 19th overall for NC State, the most among current ACC programs, and the fifth overall under current head coach Pat Popolizio.
NC State finished with 98.5 points, the most by an ACC wrestling champion since the Wolfpack’s 2007 team won with 103.5. Virginia Tech placed second with 76 points, while Pitt took third with 51. The Hokies and Panthers had three weight-class champions each.
Fourth-place North Carolina (46 points) took fourth place, followed by Virginia (39.5) and Duke (11).
Virginia Tech’s Mekhi Lewis, who took the gold medal in the 174-pound weight class as the No. 3 seed, was selected the Championship’s Most Outstanding Wrestler in a vote of the head coaches.
Lewis, the 2019 national champion at 165 pounds, scored a 3-2 win over second-seeded NC State’s Hayden Hidlay in the semifinals and turned back North Carolina’s top-seeded Clay Lautt 4-2 in the finals. All three wrestlers entered the ACC Championship ranked among the nation’s top eight.
Leading by 18.5 points heading into the Championship finals, NC State quickly served notice it was playing for keeps.
With the 157-pound match opening the slate, nationally eighth-ranked Ed Scott battled through a bloody nose to turn back North Carolina’s No. 4 Austin O’Connor, 3-2. O’Connor, the 2021 NCAA champion (at 149 pounds), suffered only his second loss of the season and aggravated a tweaked knee from the semifinal round midway through the match. Scott’s title win followed an impressive pin of Virginia’s No. 19 Jake Keating in the semifinals as he improved to 22-1 on the year.
NC State also got title-bout wins from Jakob Camacho at 125 pounds, Trey Hidlay at 184 and Tariq Wilson at 149.
Camacho, the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the 2020 ACC Championship and a runner-up to Virginia Tech’s Sam Latona last season, turned the tables back in his favor with a 3-1 decision over Latona on Sunday night.
Trent Hidlay, who wrestled in the 184 finals for the third consecutive season, claimed his second ACC gold medal with an 11-0 major decision over UNC’s Gavin Kane.
Wilson closed the night with a 10-4 decision over Virginia Tech’s Bryce Andonian at 149 pounds in another matchup of national contenders.
The Wolfpack saw all 10 of its competing wrestlers post podium finishes as Kai Orine (133), Thomas Bullard (165) and Hidlay (174) each took home the bronze medal in his respective weight class.
Pitt’s Jake Wentzel became a three-time ACC champion at 165 pounds, blanking Virginia’s Justin McCoy, 7-0. The Panthers’ Nino Bonaccorsi repeated at 197 pounds with a 5-2 decision over NC State’s Isaac Trumble, avenging a loss from the regular season.
Virginia Tech’s Korbin Myers successfully defended his ACC title at 133 pounds, topping Pitt’s Micky Phillippi, 4-2, for the second consecutive year. Myers and Phillippi have now combined to win the last four gold ACC medals at 133.
Pitt’s Cole Matthews, continuing his standout season, earned the Panthers’ third gold medal with a 3-2 decision over NC State’s Ryan Jack.
The heavyweight bout belonged to the Hokies, as top-seeded and nationally 14th-ranked Nathan Traxler defeated NC State’s Tyrie Houghton, 9-6.
Sunday night’s finals featured six defending champions from 2021. Twelve of the 20 wrestlers in this year’s championship round also reached the finals last season.
In addition to determining league champions, this year’s ACC Wrestling Championship filled the conference’s 39 automatic NCAA berths. The ACC is hopeful of landing additional at-large spots in the 2022 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, which are set for March 17-19 at Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit.
Please see below for the results of Sunday night’s championship matches. The winner and runner-up in each weight class earned 2022 All-ACC honors.
125 – Jakob Camacho (NCSU) dec. Sam Latona (VT), 3-1
133 – Korbin Myers (VT) dec. Micky Phillippi (PITT), 4-2
141 – Cole Matthews (PITT) dec. Ryan Jack (NCSU), 3-2
149 – Tariq Wilson (NCSU) dec. Bryce Andonian (VT), 10-4
157 – Ed Scott (NCSU) dec. Austin O’Connor (UNC), 3-2
165 – Jake Wentzel (PITT) dec. Justin McCoy (UVA), 7-0
174 – Mekhi Lewis (VT) dec. Clay Lautt (UNC), 4-2
184 – Trent Hidlay (NCSU) major dec. Gavin Kane (UNC), 11-0
197 – Nino Bonaccorsi (PITT) dec. Isaac Trumble (NCSU), 5-2
285 – Nathan Traxler (VT) dec. Tyrie Houghton (NCSU), 9-6
MOST OUTSTANDING WRESTLER
Mekhi Lewis, Virginia Tech
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS
1. NC State 98.5
2. Virginia Tech 76.0
3. Pitt 51.0
4. North Carolina 46.0
5. Virginia 39.5
6. Duke 11.0
2021 NCAA Qualifiers/Champs/AAs: 39/1/12
2021 Team Standings: 1. NC State 89.5; 2. Virginia Tech 66.5; 3. North Carolina 63; 4. Virginia 55; 5. Pitt 45; 6. Duke 7.5
2021 Individual Champs/Runner-ups: 125-Sam Latona (Va. Tech)/Jakob Camacho (NCSt); 133-Korbin Myers (Va. Tech)/Micky Phillippi (Pitt); 141 – Tariq Wilson (NCSt)/Zach Sherman (UNC); 149 – Austin O’Connor (UNC)/Bryce Andonian (Va. Tech); 157 – Hayden Hidlay (NCSt)/Justin McCoy (Va.); 165 – Jake Wentzel (Pitt)/Jake Keating (Va.); 174 – Daniel Bullard (NCSt)/Clay Lautt (UNC); 184 – Hunter Bolen (Va. Tech)/Trent Hidlay (NCSt); 197 – Nino Bonaccorsi (Pitt)/Jay Aiello (Va.); Hwt – Deonte Wilson (NCSt)/Hunter Catka (Va. Tech)
All-Time Team Championships (Started in 1954) – School-No. (Last): Maryland – 24 (2012; won first 20 titles; left ACC for Big 10 in 2013); NC State – 18 (2021); North Carolina (2006) – 17; Virginia (2015) – 5; Virginia Tech – 4 (2018)
2022 Top Storylines:
• The Wolfpack are going after a fourth straight title: This is head coach Pat Popolizio’s tenth year at the helm of NC State and his teams have finished among the top two teams the past six years; winning titles in 2016, ’19, ’20 and ’21; and were second to Virginia Tech in 2017 and ’18. NC State’s first title came in 1976. He returns two ACC champs in Tariq Wilson (149) and Hayden Hidlay (174), who both moved up weight classes from 2021. Both are ranked in the Top 8 nationally at their weights, as is freshman Ed Scott (157) and sophomore AA Trent Hidlay (184).
• There are four weight classes that could feature Top-10 ranked wrestlers, including two where a past NCAA champ returns. That would be 157 pounds, where North Carolina’s Austin O’Connor (a 2021 national champ at 149) has moved up and could face NC State’s Scott. The other weight is 174 pounds, where both Tech’s Mekhi Lewis (a 2019 NCAA champ at 165) and NC State’s Hayden Hidlay (3-time AA at 157) have moved up. Also, 149 pounds features NC State’s Wilson vs. Tech’s Bryce Andonian, while 184 could produce a rematch of 2021 finals between NC State’s Trent Hidlay and Tech’s Hunter Bolen.
• Pitt features two returning ACC champs, Jake Wentzel (165) and Nino Bonaccorsi (197), who also reached last year’s NCAA finals. They could face a pair of Virginia Cavaliers, Jake Keating and Jay Aiello, who they respectively beat in last year’s ACC final.