Atlantic Coast Conference Preview

By Craig Sesker | Oct. 17, 2001, 12 a.m. (ET)
North Carolina State is shooting for a repeat. The Wolfpack won their first Atlantic Coast Conference wrestling title in five years last season and appear to be the frontrunner to repeat in the five-team league. N.C. State brings back NCAA qualifiers in George Cintron (125), Pierre Pryor (165) and Dustin Kawa (174). The Wolfpack also are expecting big seasons from Ryan McCallum (133), Jake Giamoni (141) and Jason Gore (197). North Carolina State has won 12 dual meets each of the past two seasons. Virginia also has three NCAA tournament veterans in its lineup with the return of sophomore Joe Alexander (133) along with seniors Jimi Massey (184) and Greg Francesca (165). The Cavaliers, who were second in the 2001 ACC meet, also are high on Don Carlo-Clauss at 157. Bob Seidel (141) and Brian Muir (174) were both third in the ACC meet last season. North Carolina also will be right in the ACC title mix after finishing third last season. Tar Heel senior Brad Byers, an NCAA qualifier in 1999 and 2000, is a strong All-American candidate this year. Heavyweight Matt Kenny also brings back national-tournament experience. North Carolina is excited about the talent that 125-pounder Chris Rodrigues, a sophomore transfer, is expected to bring to the Tar Heel lineup. Maryland is hoping to improve on last year's fourth-place ACC finish. The Terrapins are led by returning national qualifiers Brandon York (141), Josh Weidman (165) and Jake Stork (184). Duke's Tommy Hoang made a name for himself at last March's NCAA meet, pinning No. 4 seed Jason Powell of Nebraska in the opening round at 125 pounds. Expect Hoang, who failed to place at nationals, to make a strong run at All-American honors this year. Duke seniors Harry Clarke (141) and Daegan Smith (197) return after both wrestlers placed third in the ACC last season. The Blue Devils are hoping to improve after placing fifth in the league last year.