When Pat Popolizio took the head coaching job at North Carolina State in April, freshman Nick Gwiazdowski, who reached All-American status in his first season with the Bearcats, started mulling his future options. In early May, the Delanson, NY native got his full release from Binghamton.
On Saturday night, while on a visit to the Raleigh campus, Gwiazdowski announced that he was transferring to the ACC school. He answered a few questions for New York Wrestling News from the airport on his way back to the Empire State.
New York Wrestling News: What has happened over the past few weeks since Binghamton gave you your release?
Nick Gwiazdowski: I received some calls from other schools – some were coming after me pretty hard. I wasn’t that interested – you can’t jump on the ship after it sails. It came down to a small chance of staying at Binghamton or going to NC State.
As far as NC State goes, I needed to come down and look at the school, meet with the academic advisors and straighten out some financial things. On my visit this weekend, everything fell into place and I knew NC State was where I wanted to be.
What were some of the things you really liked on your trip to Raleigh this weekend?
This place is awesome. It felt like a vacation with the warm weather. I had fun with all the people I met.
The coaching staff was the biggest factor for me. I know [Popolizio] and Frank Beasley really well and they know me. They were so important in helping me be an All-American this year. I just met Jamill Kelly this weekend and he seemed like a great guy.
The facilities were great. Everyone I talked to said that [Athletic Director] Debbie Yow is all about winning and she’ll do whatever it takes. People told some stories. Like about her letting go a strength coach that had been around for a while but who wasn’t getting the job done; wasn’t putting winners out there. The coaches said that she’s basically put every coach on campus on notice. She’s serious about winning and that type of commitment to winning is exciting.
I also thought academically it would be a good fit for me. (Editor’s Note: Gwiazdowski made the NWCA All-Academic team this season).
What are you interested in studying?
I didn’t declare a major yet at Binghamton. My meetings with the academic advisor here were good. NC State has some programs I’m interested in like sports management and a parks, recreation and tourism major. I spoke with some people who were in those areas. One wrestling alum talked about his experiences after college with minor league baseball teams, USA Baseball and now as a young athletic director. There are a lot of good opportunities for graduates.
Did you meet a lot of the team?
I met a few of the guys who were on campus. I hung out with [Long Island native] Ryan Fox who committed to Binghamton but switched to NC State a little while ago. I plan to go back to NC State in July and I’ll probably meet more guys then as everyone adjusts to how [Popolizio] runs things.
What’s next for you this summer?
Honestly, I’m a little out of shape. I won’t be going to the University Nationals. I’ll be working out and getting back into shape. My next thing is the Adam Frey Classic where I’m supposed to wrestle Ryan Tomei. I was excited that Josh Liebman asked me to participate. It will be great to wrestle for a cause like that in front of a lot of people. Then, I’ll head back down to Raleigh. Right now, the plan is for me to redshirt next year.
Congratulations on your decision. Is there anything else you want to add?
Thank you. I will miss my family and friends in New York. It’s a little hard to leave and it will be an adjustment, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it. I felt good about NC State for the last few weeks but after visiting this weekend, everything came together. I knew I liked the coaching staff but everything else is there too – the academics, athletic department, the campus, financials. I’m sure that it’s the place I want to be.
Gwiazdowski went 30-9 as a true freshman at heavyweight for Binghamton. He was the CAA Rookie of the Year after capturing a conference championship and earned All-America honors after taking eighth place in St. Louis.