March 30, 2022

PU Wrestling Took Another Step Forward As Glory, Monday Both Made NCAA Final

HISTORY MAKERS: Members of the Princeton University wrestling program, from left, head coach Chris Ayres, associate head coach Sean Gray, junior Patrick Glory, junior Quincy Monday, assistant coach Nate Jackson, associate head coach Joe Dubuque, and athletic trainer Michael Tremblay pose together at the 2022 NCAA Championships earlier this month in Detroit, Mich. Glory and Monday made history as they gave the Tigers two national finalists in the same NCAA Championships for the first time ever. Glory finished second at 125 pounds while Monday took second place at 157 pounds. (Photo by Lisa Elfstrum, provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

By Justin Feil

Patrick Glory and Quincy Monday may have come up short of their ultimate goal, but the two took another step forward for the Princeton University wrestling program.

Both juniors, Glory and Monday gave the Tigers two national finalists in the same NCAA Championships for the first time ever. Glory finished second at 125 pounds and Monday took second place at 157 pounds. Princeton last had one NCAA finalist in 2002 when Greg Parker reached the championship match and finished second at 174 pounds.

“It’s one more new thing that we haven’t done before,” said Princeton head coach Chris Ayres. “And so then it’s familiar, and that gives other people permission to do the same thing, and I think they go into it more confident. You have five Penn State guys (in finals) and they all win, and I don’t think that’s by mistake. I think they thought, this is what I’m supposed to do – win this NCAA title. I think we touched new ground for our program in terms of what’s expected.”

Princeton would have loved to have seen their finalists take it one step further to win a title in the competition held in Detroit, Mich. The euphoria of Glory and Monday reaching the championship matches with semifinal wins on March 18 made it all the more difficult when they fell in the finals a day later.

“We’ve been through a lot since I got here, so to have these moments there’s a lot of emotion,” said Ayres. “We thought we could do it, but there’s also this piece of me that can’t believe you’re doing it because of where you came from. There’s a lot of emotion and I still haven’t unpacked it. I go through all these moments – I’m really happy, and then I’m kind of devastated because it’s a hard thing to get that finals opportunity, and we didn’t get a champ. It goes all around.”

Ayres took over a struggling program 16 years ago and has fashioned it into a conference contender with national aspirations. The last two years were all the more challenging because of COVID-19 pandemic cancellations beginning with the loss of the NCAA Championships in 2020. The Tigers this year returned from a 2021 season in which the Ivy League put every conference wrestler’s career on hold during the pandemic, fought through a loaded team schedule highlighted by wins over Arizona State and Lehigh, placed third at Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships, then put together a strong showing at NCAAs with every wrestler meeting or exceeding their seeding.

“The greatest thing about it – and I’ve said this about building a program – is the evidence that what we do works well,” said Ayres. “If you look at our seeds through EIWAs and NCAAs, it’s incredible how much we either met or exceeded our seeds. So I think that’s more evidence that we know how to peak.”

Glory was the first to reach the finals. To do so, the No. 3 seed took revenge on Cornell’s Vito Arujau. Arujau had stopped Glory in the EIWA final, 19-6, only two weeks earlier, but Glory turned the tables with a stirring 13-5 win in their rubber match this season to extend his season to the NCAA final. Glory pulled away from a 7-5 match with a dominant third period.

“Glory wins and it’s craziness,” said Ayres. “It was a crazy match. There was a crazy amount of emotion in that one.”

Only an hour later, Monday was on to the finals as well. Monday remained perfect against Will Lewan with a 3-2 win over the Michigan wrestler that he had stopped twice before.

“Monday goes out and does it again,” said Ayres. “I remember being in the hallway – there’s a lot of stuff that happens under the arena that people don’t realize – and I basically ran a lap because we had two finalists. Then I saw Quincy and it was just visceral. I gave him a huge hug.”

In the finals, Glory lost to top-seeded Nick Suriano of Michigan, 5-3. Glory trailed, 4-0 before the gap narrowed to 4-3 in the third period after coming back from a searing stinger suffered at the end of the second period. Glory allowed Suriano an escape for the chance to score a takedown, but it didn’t materialize.

“It’s a tough way to go down, but I’m proud of his fight,” said Ayres. “We talked a lot about that. It wasn’t for lack of effort on Pat Glory’s part. He just couldn’t get that score that he needed. Nick Suriano is a great opponent. Effort was all there, it just didn’t go our way. It was similar for Quincy. Both matches were basically situational.”

Monday, the No. 5 seed, had a 2-0 lead before Northwestern’s second-seeded Ryan Deakin rallied to take the match, 9-2. Princeton would have liked to challenge one of the calls in the match that eventually gave Deakin points and momentum. Deakin had also won two earlier meetings with Monday this season.

“I told the guys afterward, you have to work on dominating,” said Ayres. “Those two guys, they can be really dominant. They can go out next year and step on the mat and know they’re going to win and actually be more confident.”

Glory is just the second wrestler in program history to earn three All-America honors in his career, and he still has one year left. He went 20-2 this season. Monday was 24-4 and picked up his second All-America finish. Those were positives to build on after difficult last matches.

“I’m reflecting on everything and thinking, wow, that’s amazing that they were in the finals,” said Ayres. “I also heard we got a lot of great press. People were saying ESPN was really good about talking to us and we were getting some good footage and we were getting some good promotions.”

Princeton hopes to have more to talk about next year. The Tigers do not graduate anyone from their program this year, and the bar is set for a big season.

“We have everyone back,” said Ayres. “It’s going to be a different team. There’s probably going to be some people moving around weight wise. Then we have some good kids coming in. So I don’t know – it may not be the exact same lineup we had this year, but we don’t lose anyone which is really nice.”

The goal for the Tigers will be to build on this season that ended with another historic step. Princeton had two wrestlers reach the finals, and next year they want more there, and they want a champion finisher. Ayres was encouraged to return to a messy wrestling practice room when he got back from NCAAs.

“What’s cool about that is I know stuff was happening when we were gone,” said Ayres. “I think our guys see Quincy and Pat do that and it gives them permission, and there’s a lot of kids on our team and a lot of kids that are coming to our team as recruits that have it in their minds that that is going to be them next year and they’re going to do everything in their power to make that happen.”