Staff
NCSU Head Coach
Pat Popolizio

The 2016-17 wrestling season marks Pat Popolizio’s fifth at the helm of the NC State wrestling program, as he was named head wrestling coach of the Wolfpack on April 10, 2012, and the results have already shown both on the mat and on the recruiting trail.

Popolizio has led NC State to three straight top-20 finishes at the NCAA Championships, the longest such stretch in school history since 1991-93. Over the last three seasons, NC State has finished 19th in 2014, 16th in 2015 and 11th in 2016.

NC State has earned six All-America honors in the last three years, the second-highest total in a three-year span in school history. In his four seasons overall, Popolizio has had 21 NCAA qualifiers, the most in a four-year span since 1993-96.

On the recruiting trial, NC State’s 2016 12-person signing class was ranked the nation’s best by both FloWrestling.com and InterMatWrestling.com.

In the classroom, NC State had its first-ever ACC Wrestling Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2016, Nick Gwiazdowski. The Pack has also had nine Academic All-America selections as well as nine placed on the All-ACC Academic Team over the last three years.

The 2015-16 season will go down as one of the best in school history. NC State won the 2016 ACC Championship, the first at NC State since 2007. Four individuals were crowned conference champions, and six made it to the finals overall.

Following the conference title, the Pack tied a school record with eight NCAA Qualifiers, including six seeded grapplers and for the first time ever; four were seeded fifth or better. As a team, NC State finished in 11th place at the NCAA Championships, the best finish since a school-best seventh in 1993. The Pack tied the school record with three All-Americans in 2016: Tommy Gantt (5th - 157), Pete Renda (3rd - 184) and Nick Gwiazdowski (2nd - 285).

NC State finished the regular season ranked #2 in the final NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll, the highest ranking in school history. The Pack went 23-1 in dual matches, setting a new single season school record for most wins. NC State also set a new school record with 21 consecutive wins to start the 2016 season, as the previous best was nine. Included in the dual wins were road victories at national powers Oklahoma State and Iowa - making NC State the first school ever to win at both in the same season.

Following his fourth season at NC State, Popolizio was named the 2016 National Coach of the Year by FloWrestling.com.

Redshirt-senior Nick Gwiazdowski was named the 2016 ACC Wrestler of the Year, the third consecutive season he has won the conference’s top award. He is only the second wrestler in ACC history to be named Wrestler of the Year three straight times. During his three-year career at NC State, Gwiazdowski won two NCAA titles (2014, 2015) and finished runner-up in 2016, in addition to winning three straight ACC heavyweight titles and finishing his NC State career a perfect 55-0 in duals.

In 2015, the Pack placed 16th at the NCAA Championships. NC State had a pair of All-Americans for the first season since 1993, as Gwiazdowski repeated as NCAA Champion at 285 pounds and became the first wrestler in school history to win multiple NCAA titles, and only the third ACC wrestler all-time to do so, and the first since 1995. He finished the season undefeated, going a perfect 35-0. Freshman Kevin Jack went from unseeded to a fifth place finish at 141 pounds. Gwiazdowski repeated as ACC Wrestler of the Year, while Jack was named the ACC Freshman of the Year.

In just his second season in 2014, Popolizio added to the Pack’s storied tradition with NC State’s sixth individual national champion. Gwiazdowski became NC State’s third heavyweight to win the NCAA title.

“Pat is a builder of programs and of young men,” said NC State AD Debbie Yow at the time of his hire. “He was an outstanding collegiate performer at Oklahoma State and is a proven teacher and mentor as a head coach. He will lead Wolfpack Wrestling to compete for ACC titles and, eventually, the national championship.”

Prior to coming to NC State, in six seasons at Binghamton University (2007-12), Popolizio transformed the Bearcats into a national contender after inheriting the program that went 0-12 following its reinstatement in 2005-06.

Prior to entering the coaching ranks, Popolizio was a decorated wrestler during his student-athlete career for Oklahoma State coach John Smith, a six-time world champion. Popolizio graduated in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education. He was a two-time Big 12 All Academic selection and five-time recipient of the Oklahoma State Student-Athlete Award.

At the prep level, Popolizio was a New York state scholastic champion for Niskayuna High. He was named Most Outstanding Wrestler at the 1996 state prep meet, where he captured the 177-pound title, and went on to become the national high school runner-up.

Assistant Coach
Adam Hall

Former All-American Adam Hall joined the NC State coaching staff in the summer of 2015 as an assistant coach. Coach Hall represented the United States at the 2016 University World Championships, October 25-30 in Corum, Turkey.

In just his first season with the Wolfpack, Hall helped NC State to one of its best seasons in 2015-16. NC State won the 2016 ACC Championship, the first at NC State since 2007. Four individuals were crowned conference champions, and six made it to the finals overall.

Following the conference title, the Pack tied a school record with eight NCAA Qualifiers, including six seeded grapplers and for the first time ever; four were seeded fifth or better. As a team, NC State finished in 11th place at the NCAA Championships, the best finish since a school-best seventh in 1993. The Pack tied the school record with three All-Americans in 2016: Tommy Gantt (5th - 157), Pete Renda (3rd - 184) and Nick Gwiazdowski (2nd - 285).

NC State finished the regular season ranked #2 in the final NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll, the highest ranking in school history. The Pack went 23-1 in dual matches, setting a new single season school record for most wins. NC State also set a new school record with 21 consecutive wins to start the 2016 season, as the previous best was nine. Included in the dual wins were road victories at national powers Oklahoma State and Iowa - making NC State the first school ever to win at both in the same season.

On the recruiting trial, NC State’s 2016 12-person signing class was ranked the nation’s best by both FloWrestling.com and InterMatWrestling.com. In that class, the Pack signed two of the top-six ranked wrestlers in the 2016 recruiting class, and five in the top-66 overall.

During the 2015-16 school year, Hall himself placed fifth in both the U.S. Olympic Trials Qualifying Tournament and the U.S. Olympic Trials. In addition, he won his weight class (70 kg) at the University National Tournament and will be representing Team USA at the University World Championships in October of 2016 in Turkey.

A former two-time NCAA All-American and Pac-10 champion, Hall joined the Wolfpack after spending the previous four seasons as an assistant coach at Columbia.

In his four seasons at Columbia, Hall coached 15 NCAA Qualifiers and one NCAA All-American (3rd place finish). He also completed an internship under the head coach of the National Wrestling Team at the USA Wrestling National Office before he got into coaching.

Hall had an outstanding athletic career at Boise State from 2007-11, posting a 122-18 career record (87.1 win percentage). His 122 career victories rank second in Boise State wrestling history. He won two Pac-10 titles in the 157-pound class and qualified for the NCAA National Championships all four years he competed. Hall also earned All-America honors as a redshirt junior in 2009-10.

As redshirt junior in 2009-10, Hall posted a 32-3 record while competing in the 157-pound class. He took third at the 2010 NCAA Championships and earned All-America status after going 5-1 in six bouts as the No. 2 overall seed. Hall also won his first Pac-10 Conference title in 2010. Hall finished the year with a team-high 32 overall wins and 16 major decisions and tied for the lead in dual wins (16) and dual win percentage (16-0).

Competing at 157 pounds as a redshirt senior in 2010-11, Hall went 30-2, capturing his second Pac-10 Championship and finishing fifth at the 2011 NCAA National Championships. Hall entered the NCAA National Championships at a perfect 25-0 and earned the top overall seed. He led the Broncos in overall wins (30), dual wins (12) and dual win percentage (12-0).

Hall placed fifth at the 2012 Olympic Trials and was a U.S. Open Placewinner in both 2013 and 2014.

Hall earned a B.S. degree in health science studies from Boise State in 2011. Named the 2010-11 Pac-10 Wrestling Scholar-Athlete of the Year, he posted a 3.52 GPA during his five years at Boise State, graduated Cum Laude and was named to the Dean’s List three times. He also earned an NCAA postgraduate scholarship. He received his Master of Science in Sports Management degree in 2015 from Columbia.

Assistant Coach
Obe Blanc

Obe Blanc joined the NC State wrestling staff in the summer of 2014. Blanc, a 2013 U.S. World Team Trials champion and U.S. Open champion, serves as an assistant coach.

"Obe brings a lot of experience both on the National and International levels," said NC State head coach Pat Popolizio. "His world-class wrestling will have a major impact on the development of our student-athletes on and off the mat.

"Our goal is to produce NCAA Champions and All-Americans, as well as Olympic level athletes here at NC State. Obe's background will help this coaching staff develop athletes to reach the pinnacle of our sport."

Blanc has been a member of Team USA since he finished his college career in 2009. Most recently, he was both the U.S. World Team Trials and U.S. Open champion in 2013.

Blanc wrestled collegiately at both Lock Haven and Oklahoma State. In 2007 at Lock Haven, he earned All-America honors after finishing sixth at the NCAA Championships. He finished his college career at Oklahoma State, falling one win shy of earning All-America status at the 2009 NCAA Championships. For his collegiate career, Blanc compiled a 118-41 record with 25 pins.

He earned his undergraduate degree in Sports Administration from Lock Haven in 2008, and then received a Masters in International Business from Oklahoma State in 2010.

Director of Operations
Melissa Simmons

Melissa Simmons joined the NC State coaching staff as the Pack's Direction of Operations prior to the 2014-15 season. A former national champion, Simmons joins the Pack after previously serving as an assistant coach at Oklahoma City University.

"Melissa brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our program," said head coach Pat Popolizio. "Her time at USA Wrestling and her coaching experience will be a valuable resource for our athletes. Her involvement in our day-to-day operations will help elevate the NC State Wrestling program in all aspects."

Simmons wrestled at Oklahoma City during her collegiate career. She helped OCU capture three of its four team national championships and three of its five NWCA National Duals titles from 2009-11.

Simmons went 73-18 with 42 falls. She became the 2008 72-kilogram national champion, then the 2010 82-kilo national runner-up. After finishing third place at 158 pounds as a junior, Simmons competed on the U.S. World Team.

Originally from Ridgefield, Wash., Simmons gained seven national titles and all-American honors competing as a youth. She trained at the U.S. Olympic Education Center prior to her collegiate career.

Simmons graduated from Oklahoma City University in 2010 with a B.S. degree in kinesiology and exercise science.