2013-14 ACC Preview
It has become a yearly tradition in college athletics these days, the shuffling of conferences. Schools have been jumping to new conferences, generally in order to strengthen their football and basketball scheduling. In this instance, at least for a season, wrestling and more specifically the ACC gets stronger. Pittsburgh, the winner of the last three EWL Championships, will travel down south and form a seven-team ACC. It will be short lived as Maryland will leave following the 2013-14 season.
Pittsburgh, though they have lost two 2012-13 All-Americans to graduation, still brings a very tough team into the ACC. The Panthers will likely get a boost, as soon as this season, from their 2012-13 recruiting class which was ranked #2 overall in the nation by D1CW. Virginia Tech, now a full-fledged national power, is fresh off of their first ACC Championship and returns three All-American's. In-state rival Virginia, will field another very solid dual team that should preform better than last season in tournaments. Speaking of tournament strength, the Maryland Terrapins are built for brackets with their 184-285lbers all being ranked in the top 9, and each has won two ACC titles. North Carolina has made their way into D1CW's preseason National Rankings and will be an excellent tournament team, with three wrestlers ranked in the top ten as well. The NC State's rebuilding is well underway with the #4 overall recruiting class coming into Raleigh. Finally, Duke which is still below their fellow conference competitors, does seem to be heading in the right direction.
D1CW's Preseason ACC All-Conference Team
125:#8 Anthony Zanetta (Pittsburgh)
133: #11 George DiCamillo (Virginia)
141: #3 Devin Carter (Virginia Tech)
149: #12 (157) Zach Neibert (Virginia Tech)
157: NR Thomas Gantt (NC State)
165: #4 Nick Sulzer (Virginia)
174: #21 Stephen Doty (Virginia)
184: #3 Jimmy Sheptock (Maryland)
197: #9 Christian Boley (Maryland)
285: #4 Nick Gwiazdowski (NC State)
Here is a team-by-team look at the ACC, a conference that just seven years ago failed to produce a single All-American, but is now arguably the third toughest behind only tradition powerhouses the Big Ten and Big 12.
NC State Wolfpack
Head Coach: Pat Popolizio (2nd season)
125-Joe DeAngelo (Sr) 2013 NCAA Qualifier
133-Chris Wilkes (Fr)
141-Sam Speno (So) 2013 NCAA Qualifier
149-Matt Nereim (Sr) 2012 NCAA Qualifier, 2012 ACC Runner-Up/Rodney Shepard (Fr)
157-Thomas Gantt (Jr)
165-Nijel Jones (Sr) Ranked #25, 2013 NCAA Qualifier/Peter Santos (Fr)
174-Peter Renda (Fr)
184-Michael Macchiavello (Fr)/Shayne Brady (Fr)
197-Karonne Jones (Sr)
285-Nick Gwiazdowski (So) Ranked #4, 2012 NCAA 8th Place, 2012 CAA Champ
Freshman to Watch: Peter Renda (174) It appears that Peter Renda could be the best Freshman amongst NC State's #4 ranked recruiting class. He is college ready and should win matches right away at 174.
Potential Breakout Watch: Thomas Gantt (157) It says something about what Thomas Gantt's teammates and coaches think about him, naming him a team captain this year, despite having fiver other wrestlers on the team who have qualified for National's in the past. In fact, two seasons ago, Gantt had a sub-.500 record on the season. That being said, Gantt reportedly had a great offseason and made tremendous gains.
- Culture Change: One of the biggest obstacles the Wolfpack coaching staff faced was changing the culture surrounding the team. The team's cumulative GPA, which as once among the worst at NC State, has now risen above 3.0. Not only are the grades up, the team is also very active in community service.
- Promotion: It is apparent from the recruiting rankings that High School wrestlers have taken notice of the Wolfpack program. The coaching staff is very active promoting the team through social media. Just last week the team had a successful turnout for their "Brickyard Bash", a series of drills and practices outside which attempted to promote the sport to students on campus.