January 17, 2024

PU Wrestling Alum Monday Juggling Coaching, Competition, Looking to Add to Family Tradition of Olympic Success

RIDING HIGH: Quincy Monday, top, dominates a foe in a bout last winter in his senior season for the Princeton University wrestling team. Monday has stayed at Princeton as an assistant coach for the Tiger wrestling program while continuing his competitive career. Monday won the 74-kilogram freestyle title at the Senior National Championships in mid-December, qualifying him for the Olympic Trials taking place from April 18-19 at Penn State University. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

For the first time in Quincy Monday’s life, his dad was not rooting for him.

Monday, a two-time top-three NCAA Wrestling Championships finisher in 2022 and 2023 for Princeton University, is now an assistant coach for the Tigers, who hosted Morgan State coached by his father, Kenny Monday, a 1988 Olympic gold medalist wrestler and 1984 NCAA champion, last Saturday.

“It was amazing to have them be able to come to Princeton and wrestle against us after I wrestled at Princeton for so many years and my parents have supported me there,” said the younger Monday, a 2023 Princeton grad. “It was a full circle where he’s gone on to lead this next generation of wrestlers at Morgan State. It was really great to have them in and have both of us be honored.”

Princeton and the son of the wrestling legend got the upper hand with the Tigers prevailing, 39-3, over Morgan State as they moved to 2-2 in duals. It was their second straight win after squeaking by Rider, 20-19, two days earlier. Monday is continuing his own wrestling at the senior national level while enjoying seeing the Tigers’ progress from the other side as an assistant to new head coach Joe Dubuque.

“It’s been going well with recently picking up these first couple of wins in the dual format,” said Monday. “We have a young team. We have a lot of freshmen who are stepping up to compete hard. There are guys that haven’t maybe seen the lineup (in previous years) just because of how good we’ve been and how good my senior class was that we were taking up spots. It’s definitely a new-look team and these guys are getting some good experience for the first time. It was a bit of a learning curve at first toward the start, but I think we’re starting to find a rhythm now and everyone is buying into the program and the vision. I’m excited to keep growing and see what this team can do, and seeing how much they can maximize their potential because we have a lot of talent.”

Monday is an important holdover for the program. He represented the Tigers on the mats, and graduated as one of their most accomplished wrestlers ever. When previous Princeton head coach Chris Ayres left last September to take the Stanford job, Dubuque succeeded Ayres and kept Monday as an assistant.

“I had a few communications with Dubuque and Ayres when he was still here at the end of my junior year going into senior year about that being a possibility,” said Monday.

“Now, after the fact of Ayres leaving, I’m glad I’m around to help that transition. I really just wanted to be around for the team. I knew I could help them out and give them some pretty good advice and knowledge. I never had many coaching aspirations, but I do want to see the program excel.”

Monday is spreading his knowledge while continuing to wrestle at a high level. After concluding his college career taking third in NCAAs last year at 165 pounds, Monday has transitioned to the senior level. He hasn’t had a lot of experience at that level yet, but he won the 74-kilogram freestyle title at the Senior National Championships in mid-December. The win qualifies him for the Olympic Trials that will be held April 18-19 at Penn State University.

“It’s really exciting to me,” said Monday. “Some of these guys are some of the best guys in the world — guys that I was looking up to when I was 11 and 12 years old being like the time kid running on the mat doing the towel tapping for their matches like (Jordan) Burroughs and (Kyle) Dake. Being here on this level now and qualifying for the Trials and getting a chance to compete for an Olympic spot it’s really exciting, for it to happen so fresh out of college as well. I’m taking it as it happens. I couldn’t be more excited to go through these guys. You have to beat the best to be the best. I have to take it one match at a time.”

Monday has plenty of time before he takes his shot at some more established senior level wrestlers at the Olympic Trials. It’s part of the changes that he is adjusting to after competing more frequently during his college career.

“Going from college competing pretty much every weekend, sometimes more, to having an event maybe once a month and then have this break with three months in between, it’s definitely different,” said Monday.  “It’s fine at this level for me. I don’t need that constant competition every weekend to keep tuning myself up. I can see the progress I’m making in practice. It’s less wear and tear on your body. And especially being out of school, I can really focus on my wrestling.”

Monday made his debut at the senior level when he placed third at the Bill Farrell Memorial Invitational in New York in November. He wrestled in seven matches and lost just once – by a single point. He won at Senior Nationals before going abroad and reaching the quarterfinals of the Zagreb Open Rankings Series in Croatia last week. Monday accepted an invitation to wrestle in the tournament that allows wrestlers to gain world ranking points and went 2-1 at the competition.

“How the international wrestling brackets work, the person you lose to has to make the finals for you to be able to keep competing,” said Monday. “After I lost in the quarterfinals, the guy I lost to lost in the semifinals so I didn’t get to keep competing. I only got three matches, which was a bit disappointing because I just wanted experience in competition. It was still a lot for me to learn and feel for my first international competition. That was a cool trip and I’m excited to keep building on that.”

The international trip came just before his father’s return to Princeton as an opposing coach. That cost them a chance to share more time together, but the competition against each other was special.

“It was definitely a different experience,” said Monday. “For our wins, having our guys get all excited and looking over and seeing him a little grumpy, it was funny. And having them cheer when I was rooting for my guys when we were down, it was definitely different. It was part of it. I really enjoyed that moment and that experience of what we’re both doing.”

Drew Heethuis (125 pounds), Sean Pierson (133), Tyler Vazquez (141), Eligh Rivera (149), Rocco Camillaci (157), Mikey Squires (174), Nate Dugan (184), Aidan Connor (197) and Sebastian Garibaldi (285) were all winners for the Tigers. Dugan won by pin, while Heethuis, Pierson and Garibaldi won by technical fall, and Rivera, Camillaci, and Squires won by major decision. Princeton will host Drexel on January 12 before a stretch of four straight duals against Ivy League schools, and Monday is trying to convey the importance of each match.

“I definitely think just telling the guys what it means to us and what it means to us historically, even just looking at the past few years where we’ve stood in the league, we were only really losing to Cornell my first few years here and we were on top of everyone else,” said Monday. “Of course, last year, the only team we beat in the Ivy was Brown. So they have to be hungry to get these matches back because Ivy duals really mean something, especially with the Ivy League moving into the Ivy conference tournament soon. It’s going to be stiff competition. All these Ivy teams are getting better. I think that’s great for the league in general. Of course, you want to remain near the top. We want to be challenging Cornell, but we can’t look past anybody else. These matches have to be personal. We have to get all our guys fuel that fire and passion and want to get these matches back that we dropped the last couple years.”

Monday has tried to use his experiences at Princeton to help the Tigers. Many of the wrestlers were teammates of his, but they have accepted to him in his new capacity. His success gives him plenty of credibility.

“I’ve just tried to share a bit of my mentality and the growing pains I had during my own collegiate career,” said Monday. “I remember having a rough string of matches my freshman year, and then Patrick Brucki, one of the senior captains at the time, sitting me down and talking me through some things. That really helped to turn the course of my year around. From then on, I was kind of off to the races. We kind of all go through a similar path and getting adjusted to the college scene, especially with balancing it with the Princeton course load as well. Being a coach that actually went to Princeton, I can really relate to the guys and give them my experiences and how they can navigate that.”

Monday passes along all that he can to the Princeton team. It has helped that he has continued to train on his own. Wrestling and coaching go hand in hand for him and have created a symbiotic relationship.

“As I’m working with these guys on their positions, that’s one thing I’ve seen,” said Monday. “As a coach, it makes your wrestling and your understanding of wrestling so much better because you have to communicate it to the other guys. Whereas I might wrestle for myself and naturally do something but not really understand what I’m doing in the moment, coaching makes me really have to think it through and understand everything that’s going on. I’m excited to keep doing that and keep building.”

Monday continues to challenge himself to compete at a high level. He trains under coach Reece Humphrey at the New Jersey Regional Training Center (NJRTC) at Princeton University. He has learned to continue his workouts while contributing as a coach.

“I’ve enjoyed the transition,” said Monday. “It was a little difficult at first because I was doing all my freestyle workouts and then I was
trying to do a lot of the college workouts as well. So, I had to find a balance of where if I’ve already got freestyle workouts in, I’m just coaching, I’m not really wearing my body out with the college guys. But that time wrestling with them is still very valuable. Planning that out and making sure I have a good training plan has been important. Not being in school makes a big difference what I can put brainpower towards. I’ve really been loving the process so far.”

The NJRTC team doesn’t have many wrestlers, but they are high quality with some strong connections to Princeton University. Former Princeton assistant Nate Jackson, 2023 U.S. World Team member Chance Marsteller, Matt Kolodzik, Princeton’s first four-time All-American, and 2023 Northwestern graduate Yahya Thomas join Monday. There are also a pair of significant wrestlers on gap years — Ty Whalen who won Midlands this year unattached at 149 pounds, and Kole Mulhauser.

“We have a really good RTC room,” said Monday. “I’m making a lot of gains working with those guys. We all work with the college team occasionally as well. We have a lot of fun. We enjoy the process. It’s been good.”

Monday is splitting his focus between coaching and wrestling. He is working to make sure that he improves in both areas of his life. Both his coaching and national team experiences are just beginning as he enters this new chapter.

“I have a pretty long stretch before I compete again at the Olympic Trials,” said Monday. “I’m going to really focus in on some of these things I need to work on and this transition. I’m also coaching as well so I’ll spend a little more time with the team to make sure they’re ready at the college level, but I’m also giving myself a little more time to make sure I’m going to compete to the best of my ability.”