Princeton Wrestling Freshman Standout Glory Primed for First Shot at NCAA Championship
ROAD TO GLORY: Princeton University wrestler Patrick Glory, left, battles a foe earlier this season in a bout at 125 pounds. Freshman Glory, who won the EIWA (Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association) title at 125 earlier this month, will be going after a national title this weekend as he takes part in the NCAA Championships this weekend in Pittsburgh, Pa. He will be joined at the competition by Tiger teammates Patrick Brucki (197), Matthew Kolodzik (149), Quincy Monday (157), Travis Stefanik (174), and Kevin Parker (184). (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Justin Feil
Patrick Glory takes pride in standing atop the podium at the EIWA (Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association) Championships on March 9 in Binghamton, N.Y.
But what the Princeton University freshman really wants is to be standing at the top of another one when the NCAA Championships conclude this Saturday in Pittsburgh, Pa.
“It’s something I’ve been waiting for my whole life,” said Glory, a native of Randolph, N.J.
“It’s something I’ve been dreaming of. When you’re in third or fourth grade, you think, ‘Imagine how cool it would be to wrestle at the NCAA championships, imagine how cool it would be to win a national title.’ I’ve dreamed about me standing on the podium and winning the national title and jumping into my coach’s arms and talking to my family afterward. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to since I was 8-9 years old. And now it’s here.”
As the NCAA Championships get underway this week, Glory is the No. 7 seed at 125 pounds, one of six Princeton wrestlers to make the nationals. Sophomore Patrick Brucki (197), Glory, junior Matthew Kolodzik (149), and freshman Quincy Monday (157) all qualified by virtue of their EIWA success, while freshman Travis Stefanik (174) and junior Kevin Parker (184) earned at-large bids.
Princeton head coach Chris Ayres had the sense that the program’s freshman group was going to be something special.
“It was the 8th ranked recruiting class,” said Ayres, who was named Ivy League Head Coach of the Year for the third time in four years. “As a coach, you really don’t know what you’re going to get until they actually get in your room. We could tell from Day 1, these kids are special. They’re really tight too. Marshall Keller started as well so we had four of them starting. These kids are good, but they have to find some consistency. Travis and Quincy kind of found that late. Marshall was still trying to figure it out. There’s one kid that had it from the beginning. That’s Glory. He came in and he was ready to be one of the best wrestlers in the country right away.”
Glory improved to 26-4 when he avenged one of his four losses with a 10-8 win in the EIWA title match over Cornell’s Vito Arujau, who had won their dual meet match at Cornell. Glory marched through the first two EIWA matches with pins and then came back in the semifinal to stop Penn’s Carmen Ferrante to set up a rematch with Arujau.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Glory. “Coming in, obviously I wanted to get some revenge from the loss during the year. Really it’s just another stepping stone for next weekend. That’s how we always viewed it. It’s great to get the win. We’re looking forward to next weekend. That’s really what matters to us. I’m excited to know I can do it and I’m able to compete with the top kids in the country and there’s no reason to believe I can’t go out and do it.”
Brucki, too, won to avenge a loss at Cornell. He beat Cornell’s Benjamin Honis, 8-6, for the 197-pound EIWA championship. Kolodzik fought back from a low-scoring semifinal for third at 149 pounds. Monday also showed resolve in coming back for third place at 157 pounds. Princeton finished third as a team as well with 122.5 pounds, trailing only champion Lehigh (153 points) and runner-up Cornell (139 points).
“For the team, I’m really happy with where we are,” said Ayres. “I really don’t know if we could have had a better Day 1. I was shocked to look up at the scoreboard at the end of Day 1 and see we weren’t in first. It was like, ‘What do we have to do?’ We had a great day. Then came Day 2 and we had a disastrous session 3. What was amazing was we bounced back and had a great Session 4. If we could find some consistency at the NCAAs with how we’re performing, we could be in top 10.”
The young Tigers are coming on strong at the end of the season, forming a foundation that has Princeton’s future looking bright.
“I’ve known these kids for four months now, and it seems like I’ve known them my whole life,” said Glory. “It’s pretty incredible the camaraderie we have just in our freshman class, and in our whole team. We’re pretty young for the most part. I think we have four upperclassmen wrestling regularly for us. Some are hurt or had falling outs with the sport, so the bulk of our team is freshmen and sophomores. We’re doing everything together. We’re eating together, we’re studying together, we’re wrestling together. It’s like a family. When you do everything together, you have a lot to share with those people and you relate to them in a lot of ways.”
Glory has been a consistently improving wrestler since he arrived from Delbarton School after an unbeaten senior year, and he quickly became a sparkplug in the Princeton lineup.
“He’s a leader,” said Ayres. “When you have a 25-pounder who pins people, it fires up your team. He’s like a stick of dynamite at the beginning of every match. It’s awesome to have those guys and know they’ll be there for four years.”
Glory has only lost to three wrestlers all year. He lost twice to Iowa’s Spencer Lee, but the second time was far closer than the first. He’s putting all his energy into the NCAA Championships to try to go through the entire field.
“The whole season for me is culminating next weekend,” said Glory.
“I don’t care how I do in the dual meets, I don’t care how I do in the tournaments. I really care how next weekend goes. It’s all a learning process up until this point. No one remembers who won up to this point People remember if you’re an All-American, people remember if you’re a national champ. The way I view all the losses this year is they’re for improvement. I’ve learned so much from the matches I’ve lost, and even the matches I haven’t lost, I feel like I’ve taken a lot from all those matches. By the time March 21-23 comes around, my whole mindset was I’d be at the peak of my abilities and techniques. I feel like I’m getting to that point and next weekend I’ll be a dangerous weapon.”
Glory showed significant improvement in how he wrestled Arujau for the EIWA title, taking the lessons learned from their first meeting and wrestling smarter.
“Getting my hands on him in the regular season was definitely good for me to get a reference to how he wrestles,” said Glory.
“Going into the second match, I wasn’t going to wrestle any differently, but I made some tweaks to not wrestle into his match and get him off balance and get his timing off a little bit. We did a couple things like that – try not to roll around on the bottom very much, stay solid, get on my feet. Based on the first match, we realized there wasn’t too much of a difference on our feet, but I kept rolling around and trying to score reversals too much and trying to go for the desperation moves instead of staying solid and staying on my feet and getting my one and working for another takedown.”
Ayres believed that Glory wrestled well enough in the EIWAs to earn the meet’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. He capped his tournament by avenging a loss and knocking off another top-10 opponent. Ayres has been impressed with how quickly Glory picks up pointers and applies them.
“He’s been consistent and he’s been consistently getting better,” said Ayres.
“He’s easily one of the top 5 most coachable kids we’ve had here. We’ll say, ‘Can you try to do this?’ And he’ll do it in a match that day whereas some kids it takes the whole summer to get them to do something we’re teaching them. Pat has been making adjustments every weekend.”
Glory’s latest improvements earned him an EIWA crown, giving him some momentum as he heads to nationals
“It’s definitely helpful mentally going in, but no matter what happened, I’d be going into NCAAs thinking I could win,” said Glory.
“I don’t think that mentality would change too much if I’d lost or won. Getting the win obviously gives me more confidence I could win. I like to go into every match with a little swagger and a confident swing going my way. I don’t think that would have changed too much regardless of the outcome, but it’s a plus to get the win and go in knowing I can compete with anybody.”
Glory will open the NCAAs against Ohio State’s Malik Heinselman. They’ve never met this season. Brucki is the No. 4 seed and takes on Brandon Whitman of North Carolina. Kolodzik is the fifth seed and faces Michael Sprague of American, whom he beat in the EIWA Championships consolation round.
“I think we have three guys that could win an NCAA title,” said Ayres. “Will they? I don’t know, but Pat is one of those three guys. There’s no one that he can’t beat. It’s fun to be a freshman and a true freshman. It’s like, ‘What do I have to lose? I have three more cracks at this, I might as well let it rip.’ That’s what I’ll be pushing to him – have fun, mix it up, no pressure. You’re a freshman and you can do whatever you want out here.”
Glory is looking forward to his first chance at the NCAAs, but even with three years left and room to grow, he’s only focused on what he can do this year. He’s already been waiting long enough.
“I’ve been going to the NCAAs for the past four years,” said Glory. “I’ve been just kind of counting it down – three more years, two more years, one more year to NCAAs. And here we are.”