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Top Ten of 2019-20: Wrestling's Crowning Achievement

As the academic year officially comes to a close, SI All Wolfpack look backs at the NC State's 10 best athletic performances of 2019-20. Today, it's No. 2: Another ACC championship for Wolfpack wrestling

The 2019-20 athletic schedule was cut short by the coronavirus crisis that forced the cancellation of the NCAA basketball and wrestling tournaments, as well as most of the spring season.

But despite those disappointments, there were still plenty of memorable moments and achievements to celebrate.

As the academic year officially comes to a close, SI All Wolfpack look backs at the NC State's 10 best athletic performances of 2019-20. Today, it's No. 2: Another ACC championship for Wolfpack wrestling.

NC State’s wrestling team went through the dual match season undefeated and ranked among the top three in the nation. But the job of being crowned ACC champions was still unfinished when coach Pat Popolizio and his squad arrived in Pittsburgh for the conference tournament on March 8.

Bolstered by six finalists and two individual champions, the Wolfpack took care of business in impressive fashion by winning its second straight title and third in the last five years. It was the first time since 2001-02 that State has won ACC wrestling crowns in consecutive years.

“This is what we work for, what we train for -- to win ACC championships and to compete and win trophies at the NCAAs,” Popolizio said after the victory. “This wasn’t our best overall performance of the year and the guys know they have to step up for the NCAAs. But they found a way to score enough points and get it done.”

Redshirt freshman Jakob Camacho set the tone for the title right from the opening match of the finals, winning the championship at 125 pounds in an 11-4 upset of defending ACC champ and NCAA runnerup Jack Mueller of Virginia.

It was Mueller’s first loss of the year and helped Camacho earn Most Valuable Wrestler honors for the meet.

While Camacho is a first time ACC winner, redshirt junior Hayden Hidlay earned his third straight conference title by a 13-4 major decision over Pittsburgh’s Taleb Rahmani.

In all, nine of the 10 wrestlers in State’s lineup made it at least to the semifinals, with redshirt juniors Tariq Wilson (141) and Daniel Bullard (174), sophomore Deonte Wilson (285) and redshirt freshman Trent Hidlay (184) each earning All-ACC honors with their second place finishes.

Redshirt junior Thomas Bullard scored a third place finish at 165 pounds and added two additional team points in his third place bout with a pin. Redshirt freshman Jarrett Trombley placed fourth at 133 pounds.

With all those wrestlers qualifying for the NCAA Championship meet, the Wolfpack was in a strong position to challenge for the first team national title in school history. But even though the event was canceled because of the coronavirus crisis, leaving the team feeling somewhat unfulfilled, it was at least able to celebrate a meaningful victory and finish the season on a high note.

NC State Top 10 of 2019-20

10. Women's basketball team sets NCAA record by making 13 straight three-pointers

9. Tziarra King's overtime ACC tournament winner against Louisville

8. Men's tennis upset of defending national champion Texas

7. Nick Swinney's masterful one-hitter in Minnesota

6. Elly Henes' ACC cross country championship

5. Men's swimming and diving wins its sixth straight ACC title

4. Dramatic wrestling win against UNC

3, Men's basketball upset of Duke

2, Wrestling caps perfect season by winning the ACC tourney title

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