PU Wrestling Star Glory Wins NCAA Title at 125, Earning 1st National Crown for Program Since 1951
GLORY DAY: Princeton University wrestler Pat Glory celebrates after winning the 125-pound title at the NCAA Championships last Saturday in Tulsa, Okla. Senior Glory defeated Matt Ramos of Purdue 4-1 in the final. It marked the first national title for the program since Bradley Glass placed first at heavyweight in 1951. (Photo by Lisa Elfstrum, provided courtesy of Princeton Athletics)
By Justin Feil
Pat Glory is going to make the Princeton University wrestling program do some redecorating in its practice room.
The team will be adding a framed photo of the Tiger senior after he claimed the second NCAA championship in program history with a 4-1 win over Matt Ramos of Purdue in the 125-pound final at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday.
“I cannot wait,” said Glory, a Randolph resident who attended Delbarton. “I’m so ecstatic because it gets old walking into the room and seeing the same big picture underneath the national championship wall.”
In the Jadwin Gym basement, centered above the “Princeton Wrestling” label and the University shield and below the words “NCAA Champions” scrolled across the highest point of the wall, is a photo of the only previous Princeton national champion, wrestler Bradley Glass, who won the title at heavyweight in 1951. Glory sealed his spot as a four-time All-American who had come up just short a year ago in his first finals appearance.
“You always think about it, that feeling walking off the mat as a loser, as a runner-up, it sticks with you,” said Glory. “From that night really, I was waiting to get to (Saturday). Earlier this season was hard. All I wanted to do was get to March.”
The wait was excruciating. He had to make weight and sustain his focus through the challenges of waiting for his final collegiate chance.
“It’s been a thing we’ve been dreaming about and working on for 17 years and so for Pat to do it is amazing,” said Princeton head coach Chris Ayres. “Last year we were close, and that was a bit of a tease. We touched that moment and it felt like it could happen.”
Glory had placed sixth in the NCAAs as a freshman, then the COVID-19 pandemic cost him a chance to wrestle in the NCAAs his sophomore year. He reached the finals last year to set himself up for this year. He was resolved to soak in every second of this year’s finals experience.
“I think everything happens for a reason,” said Glory. “I totally believe there’s a method to the madness, but at the end of the day all I needed was a chance. I think that experience from last year was hugely important. I knew what to expect. I knew how to handle it. I knew what that environment would be like, the light show and everything. Last year I was really excited and I almost let the excitement take away from the experience. I knew this year I was not going to let that happen.”
He took his time getting to the mat, absorbing the energy of the arena and keeping his focus from start to finish when he lay back, overcome with emotion, on the mat. His emotions gushed out in post-match embraces with his coaches and family and during an interview on ESPN.
“It was recognition of how hard it is to accomplish that goal,” said Glory. “And
recognition of so many people that don’t accomplish it. I’m in a unique company now. It’s something I’ve dreamed of since I was as young as I can remember.”
Glory grew up surrounded by those that had success. He went to the national championships as a fan and sat in the Penn State section while that storied program saw multiple champions and team accomplishments. But when it came time for him to choose where to wrestle in college, he went to a team that was on the rise, but had no real precedent for national titles aside from associate coach Joe Dubuque, who won a pair of individual crowns at Indiana and a grand vision from Ayres.
“I think the reason I came to Princeton was to be that guy,” said Glory. “Coach Ayres and Dubuque and [Sean] Gray and [Nate] Jackson and everyone involved with the program, they’ve had this vision. I just wanted to accomplish the next step up. It seems like every year we step one more rung up the ladder, and the next thing was getting a national champ. It wasn’t hard to picture because the tools were there. I have a two-time national champ that I wrestle in the room every single day. The role models or examples of what it takes were there. It was just a matter of breaking that barrier, getting that monkey off your back.”
Even a day after accomplishing it, Glory wasn’t quite able to wrap his head around all that he had done. The title polished off a perfect season with the ultimate crown.
“It still doesn’t really feel real,” said Glory. “I think Coach Dubuque said after the first one it took a couple weeks to sink in for him. I might be on the same trajectory.”
Glory’s win helped ease some of the pain for one of his teammates. Quincy Monday was ahead in his semifinal match before dropping a 6-5 decision to top-seeded David Carr of Iowa State that prevented him from returning to a second straight final. Monday moved up a weight class to 165 pounds this year to the deepest in the country. The fifth-seeded senior refocused to earn third place with a win over Michigan’s Cameron Amine, 3-2, after he topped third-seeded Dean Hamiti of Wisconsin. It was another moment that the program can lean on going forward.
“To come back and win that match is so hard,” Ayres said. “What Pat achieved is amazing, but what Quincy did was probably more amazing related to being able to bounce back and go for third. A lot of guys don’t.”
Glory’s reaction to his win showed how much achieving his goals meant. He understood how much effort it had taken him to get there.
“The emotion was a testament to all those memories, all those feelings, all the hard work and pain and suffering that it takes to accomplish a goal like that,” said Glory. “The sacrifice that my family, my coaches, my girlfriend, and that my brother and sister, my teammates, friends make to have it be possible. It literally takes so many people. I was just so elated. It was hard for me to keep it in.”
Glory was in control throughout the finals match. Ramos held off his continued attacks to prevent points for a while but Glory did not deter from his aggressive style. He would not be denied.
“I had this moment where I looked at him, and the look in his eyes was different,” said Ayres. “He had the look after that semifinals, he had it the whole next day. It didn’t matter who was in front of him, he was going to win. There was no doubt in my mind.”
Glory was spending hours returning messages of congratulations Sunday. He did his best to thank all of them who helped him reach the pinnacle of college wrestling.
“There are just so many people that have laid out support,” said Glory. “It’s just so amazing. You think you’re doing it for yourself and your coaches and you don’t realize how big an impact it has on the people around you, the community around you, the people you grew up with, everybody. It’s been so amazing. I’m trying to be as grateful as I possibly can and it makes it super easy when you have so many people showing support.”
Princeton is certainly grateful, having recruited Glory as one of the wrestlers who had a chance to bolster the program. And as happy as he was for himself, he seemed just as thrilled for the program.
“For the program, it’s huge,” said Glory. “I always kind of thought whether it was me or Quincy or some future guy that was going to come. I felt like it was going to happen. I wanted it to be me and break that stigma almost that you can’t win a national championship at Princeton. I wanted to prove that you can do it.”
Princeton had endured an up-and-down season, going 4-11 in dual meets. They lost a pair of duals on criteria. They had had more team success in past years, and that made it tough for a program that prides itself on always moving forward. Each year had seen the program find a new accomplishment and by the NCAA Championships, there was only one thing left.
“There was a lot of pressure on the NCAA Championship,” said Ayres. “It had to sort of save the year. Everyone kept saying, you’ve got NCAAs and you’ve got Pat and Quincy and everything’s going to be OK. But you don’t know that. There were 22 All-Americans this year that didn’t place. I don’t know that these guys are going to do what they did last year. And anything less than that would have probably been a disappointment. So Pat punching through kind of saved the season.”
Glory’s collegiate season is over but he still has a challenging wrestling path in his future plans. Next month, he will compete in the United State Open. It’s the qualifier for the Olympic World Team Trials. A win there would put him in Final X, and a win there would pit him against Olympic bronze medalist Thomas Gilman in a best-of-three series to represent the United States. Remaining active in international wrestling could put his job at Citi on hold for a while.
“I’m keeping all my cards on the table and just going to go to the U.S. Open and see what happens and go from there,” said Glory.
Among the tasks ahead for Glory is selecting a photo to add to the wrestling room next to Glass. It will be an easy reminder of a more current and relatable NCAA champion to the next generation of Princeton wrestlers.
“I can’t wait to see what the future of this program holds,” said Glory. “That’s what I’m excited for, because I think this is just the beginning. We have so much more to accomplish in this program. I’m looking forward to being an alumni and enjoying watching these guys grow and take this program to the next level. We have a great recruiting class coming in next year. I’m hoping that my performance proves to the guys that are on the fence about coming to Princeton that they can do it. It’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be satisfying and everything that you’ve ever dreamed of.”