January 20, 2016

Former PHS Wrestling Star Miers Making It in NYC, Enjoying Freshman Season With Columbia Wrestling

145 lb. bout Miers picking up near-fall points on his Nottingham opponent.

LIONHEARTED: Star wrestler Thomas Miers controls a foe in a bout last winter during his senior season with Princeton High. Miers is currently competing at the college level for Columbia. He has posted a 1-2 record so far in his freshman campaign for the Lions. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

When Tom Brady was a rookie backup quarterback for New England in 2000, he viewed each practice like a game, competing as hard as he could every day, even in walk-through drills.

As former Princeton High wrestling standout Thomas Miers looks to make an impact for the Columbia University squad, he is utilizing a similar approach on a daily basis.

“Your goal in practice is to come in every day and focus on getting better each day,” said Miers.

“Everyone in college is so much better, you are never going to be wrestling a guy who is bad or doesn’t know what he is doing. Everyone is really good so you have to always be on your guard in practice. You just have to come in ready to wrestle and be focused.”

Miers’ focus helped him enjoy a superb career at PHS which culminated last winter with a 33-3 season that saw him advance to the Region V tourney at 138 pounds.

As a result of his superb senior campaign, Miers turned his focus to competing in college and ended up deciding to attend Columbia and join its wrestling program.

“There are a bunch of different factors,” said Miers, reflecting on what led him to choose Columbia.

“It is close to home. It is really only an hour away so I can get home and see my family and they can come up and see me wrestle. The education is top notch, which was one of the major things. It is fantastic. The wrestling program is really strong and the coaches are really great. The team is a bunch of good guys so I thought it would be a good fit.”

As he looked ahead to competing at the next level, Miers worked hard over the summer to be stronger and more skilled.

“They had us on a lifting program that our strength coach sent out so I was doing that about three times a week,” said Miers.

“I was on the mat a little more this summer than I was in the previous summer. I was going to the same club, CJA in East Brunswick. I was pretty fortunate that my club team would have the college alumni come back and wrestle with us, which helped me.”

Getting on the mat with his college teammates was a bit rough at first.

“The first couple of months were pretty tough but I think that kind of happens with most college freshmen in every sport,” said Miers.

“I was going to have to take some lumps at the beginning. I have definitely made strides. I definitely feel like I can compete with these guys. I belong here.”

The older guys on the team have gone out of their way to help Miers. “I will be wrestling in practice and at the end we will go groups live,” said Miers.

“At the end of live one of my teammates will come up to me and maybe show me something that I can improve on. I am constantly learning new things.”

That learning curve has resulted in strong improvement for Miers.

“I was talking to some of my assistant coaches from high school and club and they all told me that I would get so much better in the first couple of months,” said Miers.

“It is kind of crazy. You don’t realize it until you go back to your high school room and practice with the guys and you realize how much better you can get in three or four months.”

Miers got his first taste of college competition in late October when he competed in the New York Intercollegiate Sate Championships in Ithaca.  Wrestling at 141 pounds, Miers went 1-2, posting a 14-9 win over Justin Ludel of Ithaca and losing 9-4 to Eli Bienstock of Cornell and 9-2 to Chris Schoenherr of the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club.

“It was definitely a bit of nerves,” said Miers, recalling his college debut.

“I really wanted to get that first win; I got that, which was nice. I didn’t do necessarily as well as I was hoping to. There were a couple of guys who I knew on other teams so I saw them which was kind of cool. Just being up there and competing in that atmosphere was a really cool experience.”

Miers gained from the experience, getting a better sense of what he is in for at the college level.

“In high school sometimes you wrestle kids, who are not as mature,” noted Miers.

“Going from being a high school senior to being a college freshman you are dealing with guys who could potentially be four or five years older. It is definitely interesting. The pace of matches is way higher than it was in high school; you have to constantly keep wrestling. In high school, maybe every now or then I could get away with relaxing a little bit. In college you really have to be ready to go.”

With a couple of months left in the season, Miers is looking to keep pace with things.

“We have an open tournament in Edinburgh, there might be one more open tournament towards the end of the season,” said Miers.

“I am just trying to win as many matches and hopefully place in those open tournaments and just try and build my confidence up.”

Off the mat, Miers has found Columbia to be an exciting place. “It has been awesome, I love it up here,” said Miers, who is studying financial economics and computer science.

“Being in New York City is another one of the reasons I chose Columbia. I love living in the city, there is always something to do. Classes are going really well. In high school, you are taking like eight classes a day. The classes are longer in duration but you only have class for four hours a day. I took four courses in the first semester.”

As he looks ahead to the rest of his college wrestling career, Miers knows he has a lot to learn.

“There is always room for improvement in everything,” said Miers. “My mat wrestling is probably the area where I have improved the most but I definitely still need to get better there. Being able to ride is so important in college. In high school, when you choose bottom it is kind of like a guaranteed point. In college, guys are really tough on top and now they have the riding time and everything. It is definitely really important to not only get on the bottom but also be able to ride guys.”