Graphic courtesy of NC State Athletics.
Pat Popolizio took the reigns of the NC State wrestling in April 2012. Since then, Popolizio has helped the Wolfpack program reach new heights and turned the Raleigh, North Carolina-based program into one of the nation’s best.
In his first eight seasons under Popolizio, NC State Wrestling has had:
- 3 National Champions
- 5 NCAA Finalists
- 18 All-Americans
- 15 ACC Champions
- 5 ACC Wrestlers of the Year
- 2 ACC Rookies of the Year
- 3 ACC Scholar-Athletes of the Year
He has led NC State to a school record six straight top-20 finishes at the NCAA Championships over those eight years as well.
During the COVID-19-condensed season, Popolizio and Co. kept things rolling. Popolizio led NC State to its third consecutive team title at the ACC Championships, and the Wolfpack went on to a sixth-place NCAA team finish (68 total points) that ranked as the second-best in school history. It marked the sixth top-10 finish for the program overall and the second top-10 finish in the last three NCAA Championships (school-best fourth in 2018).
The Wolfpack’s four 2021 All-America wrestlers – which included NCAA silver medalist Trent Hidlay – tied a program record. NC State became the first school to claim three consecutive ACC wrestling championships since North Carolina won four in a row from 1997-2000. NC State secured four ACC individual championships and finished 24 points ahead of second-place Virginia Tech in the team scoring.
Next year, in 2021-22, expect the Wolfpack to be just as talented. With the NCAA providing an extra year of eligibility for all winter sports in 2021, four NC State wrestling team members will take advantage of the ruling and return to the Pack as Super Seniors for the 2021-22 collegiate season.
Thomas Bullard, Hayden Hidlay, Nick Reenan, and Tariq Wilson will return to the Pack’s lineup for one final season. The four were all starters and NCAA Qualifiers in 2021, and they made up part of the #1 recruiting class back in 2016.
As a group, the quartet has combined to earn eight All-American honors, five individual ACC titles, and qualified for the NCAA Championships 15 out of a possible 16 seasons. They have also helped the Wolfpack win seven team trophies during their careers.
- Thomas Bullard (Lawrenceville, Ga.)
Bullard is a four-time NCAA Qualifier, his first season at 157 pounds and the last three at 165. The 2021-22 season will mark the first season he will wrestle without his twin brother, Daniel, on the same team since they came to NC State.
- Hayden Hidlay (Lewistown, Pa.)
NC State’s first-ever four-time All-American, Hidlay, announced on the #PackMentality Pop-Ins Podcast that not only will he be returning, but he will be moving up two weight classes to 174 pounds. Hidlay became the 10th wrestler in ACC history to win four ACC Championships, all at157 pounds, and he placed fifth at the 2021 NCAA Championships.
- Nick Reenan (Dallas, Texas)
Reenan is a three-time NCAA Qualifier. All three trips to the NCAA Championships were at different weights (174, 184, and this past year at 197 pounds).
- Tariq Wilson (Steubenville, Ohio)
Wilson brings back a pair of third-place NCAA finishes, in 2018 at 133 pounds and this past March at 141 pounds. He is a three-time All-American and won his first ACC Championship in 2021. Wilson announced he would be competing at his third different collegiate weight, finishing up his career at 149 pounds.
In October 2020, the NCAA announced that all winter sports athletes in the 2020-21 academic year an additional year of eligibility. The seniors for this past season had the option to return for another season.