The Wolfpacker

May 2017 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 24 of 87

MAY 2017 ■ 25 TRACKING THE PACK KEVIN JACK Junior • Wrestling After he walked off the mat with his hand raised in the consolation finals at the NCAA Championships March 18, Kevin Jack's face was visibly battered and bruised — that's what happens when wrestling seven matches in a little less than 48 hours. No matter how tired or hurt he was, though, there was no wiping the smile off of the Connecticut native's face while he spoke with the media. His goal to win a national championship was derailed for the second straight year by former college teammate Bryce Meredith, now at Wyoming. A year ago though, Jack went 2-1 at the double-elimination tournament following the loss to Meredith. In 2017, Jack would not lose again. He followed up the 6-5 defeat to Meredith with four straight victories to claim third place, including a win over Meredith in the final bout. "It was my turn to get revenge," he said while noting that as soon as he lost to Meredith in the quarterfinal round he hoped that their paths would cross again. Jack got his wish and left no doubt with the victory that was punctuated by a third-period pin. "I thought it showed character, heart and the will to win — that's what it's about for guys that get knocked off in the quarterfinals," head coach Pat Popolizio said. "It was the same thing last year — losing early, being disappointed, and how you respond says a lot. It speaks volumes for him that he had that will to come back. "It's one of the hardest things, I don't know if people realize that … it's never fun [wrestling an opponent that knows you so well]." Not only did Jack's triumph secure placement points for finishing third, he tallied bonus points with his pin to help the Pack place 17th nationally. That marked the team's fourth straight top-20 finish, just the second time in program history they have accomplished a streak that long (the first was from 1980-84). Following a fifth-place debut as a true freshman, Jack is just the ninth grappler in NC State annals to earn mul - tiple All-America honors during his career. The two-time ACC champion went 35-2 in 2017 with his only other loss coming on the season's opening weekend in overtime. ranked him No. 18 nationally at the end of the year regardless of weight class. Jack will go into his senior season looking to win the school's eighth individual NCAA title and become the fifth three-time All-American. — Ryan Tice Photo Courtesy NC State Media Relations wolfpacker spotlight

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