Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 12
 
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
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DEEP FREY: Princeton University freshman wrestler Garrett Frey zeroes in on a foe in action this season. Frey qualified for the NCAA championships, becoming the first Princeton wrestler to make the meet since Jake Butler in 2005. Last weekend in the NCAA meet, Frey fell to 11th-seeded Michael Martinez of Wyoming in the consolation round to end his season with a 27-8 record in all competitions. Frey’s achievements were even more impressive considering that he had to deal with the untimely death of his brother, Adam, 23, who succumbed on December 26 after a battle with cancer.

Overcoming Adversity Away From the Mat, PU’s Frey Wrestles at NCAA Championships

Ed Benkin

Coming into the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) championships earlier this month, Princeton University freshman Garrett Frey appeared to be a long shot to emerge from the meet as an NCAA qualifier.

Frey was seeded seventh at the meet at 125 pounds and needed to beat the number two and number three seeds to get into the title match in order to clinch a berth in the NCAA meet.

But as Frey competed at Lehigh at the EIWA meet, he was steeled by the fact that he had overcome much greater adversity than anything he would face on the mat, dealing with the untimely death of his brother, Adam, 23, who succumbed on December 26 after a battle with cancer.

When Frey lost Adam, a former star wrestler at Cornell, he lost a mentor and confidant as well as a brother.

“He was more excited to see me win than I was to win,” said Frey, who was a star wrestler at the Blair Academy, following in his brother’s footsteps. “He was an incredible wrestler, but he always wanted me to be better.”

Inspired by his brother’s example, Frey decided he must push on and make his freshman season something to remember.

“I thought that he wouldn’t have wanted me to stop doing what I’m doing,” said Frey.

“He’d been one of the biggest supporters of my wrestling career. He was always there to tell me what I was doing wrong and what I was doing right. He took a lot of pride in me.”

Frey gave a performance to be proud of at the Easterns, pinning second-seeded Joe Langel of Rutgers in the quarterfinals and topping third-seeded Jasen Borschoff of American 6-1 in the semifinals.

Frey fell to defending national champion Troy Nickerson in the finals but his second place finish booked his trip to the NCAA meet in Omaha, making him the first Princeton wrester to qualify for the tournament since Jake Butler in 2005.

Last weekend in the NCAA meet, Frey fell to 11th-seeded Michael Martinez of Wyoming in the consolation round to end his season.

While Frey had hoped for a better result, he was happy to be representing the Princeton program at the national competition.

“I’m really excited to kind of be the ambassador at the NCAA’s,” asserted Frey.

“That’s something that I wanted to do when I came here. We hadn’t been doing as well the past few years and hadn’t had an NCAA qualifier since Coach (Chris) Ayres took over the program.”

Frey’s experience in the Eastern meet gave him confidence coming into Omaha.

“I really didn’t feel like that much of an underdog in those matches,” said Frey, reflecting on his success in the EIWA competition.

“I didn’t really feel like they were on a different level than me. I guess I’m too busy dealing with the excitement of making the NCAA’s to look back on Easterns and knocking off two higher seeds.”

Princeton head coach Ayres is proud of how Frey took care of business in the wake of family travail.

“It’s a tribute to his character and his resiliency,” said Ayres. “He went through one of the toughest things in life that you could go through and he was ridiculously strong through the whole thing.”

In Ayres’ view, Frey has shown strength on the mat all season long. “Garrett’s been great for us,” said Ayres. “He came in and started out the season great, and he really carried it throughout the season. It’s huge for us to get a qualifier for the NCAA’s again, and the way he did it was pretty impressive.”

With Princeton improving to 9-10 this season in dual match action after going 2-18 in 2008-09, Frey believes some impressive things are on the horizon for the program.

“I feel like people will look and see that Princeton wrestling is improving,” said Frey, who ended his season with a team-best individual record of 27-8 in all competitions.

“Our freshman class, along with the class the previous two years, is bringing on a new age of Princeton wrestling.”

The class that Frey displayed this season in overcoming adversity will shine as a beacon for Princeton wrestling in the years to come.

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