N.C. State heavyweight Nick Gwiazdowski, AKA, “The Gwizz” may be the wrestler most people are familiar with. But Monday night his teammates showed why he isn’t the only reason their team is ranked No. 3 in the country.
N.C. State (18-0) won 8 out of 10 of its matches over No. 14 North Carolina (9-3), securing the win 28-8 well before its best wrestler even stepped on the mat.
"Everyone is confident in each other," Gwiazdowski said. "You know if two guys have a bad day, we've got eight other guys who are going to put it on."
"That's a good team. They are (14th) in the country. But we're ready every time we step on the mat."
It was their 18th straight win, the longest winning streak in the country.
N.C. State has wrestlers ranked in the top 30 in the nation in each weight class except 149 and 174 pounds. And they used every bit of it to their advantage.
UNC’s two best wrestlers in Evan Henderson (149) and Ethan Ramos (174) both won their matches in dominating fashion against their N.C. State opponents, who were unranked.
The most interesting match was at 141 pounds, however. N.C. State’s Kevin Jack, ranked No. 3 in the country at his weight class, battled it out with Joey Ward, who is ranked No. 11. The two wrestlers went back and forth, with neither letting the other score a take down.
Ward seemed to control the first half of the match, but Jack gained momentum as he rode Ward throughout the third period.
Their match went down to the wire and finished in double OT after Ward was called for two fouls in the final few seconds. Jack came out on top 5-3.
But the most anticipated match was Gwiazdowski’s match versus UNC’s Cory Daniel. The crowd was silent before both wrestlers got in position. Fans of N.C. State sat on the edge of their seats.
The No. 1 ranked Gwiazdowski, who is looking to become the first ACC wrestler to win three consecutive national titles at the 285 weight class, extended his 75-match winning streak to 76 games.
Gwiazdowski used his strength to overpower Daniel early and often. He scored on two take downs and two near falls in the first period, nearly pinning him at the end.
By the time the second period started he was up 12-1. Daniel's lone point came from an escape. In the second period Gwiazdowsky continued to dominate and ended it there.
He won by technical fall 19-2.
N.C. State coach Pat Popolizio, who in his fourth year has turned the Wolfpack into a consistent contender, said he was pleased with his team's performance.
"We keep making strides and that's what's great about this team," he said. "They are already at a level where they are successful but they keep continuing to get better as individuals, which makes our team better.
"We still have a lot of things to work on and fine tune as a program and it's going to put us in a position to compete with any team in the country when it matters."