Princeton wrestling national finalists back for 1 more shot at NCAA title

Pat Glory couldn’t watch the video for months.

Quincy Monday watched it the next day.

The pair of Princeton University wrestlers each made the NCAA final last year but suffered a loss – Glory to Michigan’s Nick Suriano, a former Rutgers and Bergen Catholic star, 5-3, at 125 pounds and Monday to Northwestern’s Ryan Deakin, 9-2, at 157 pounds.

For Princeton coach Chris Ayres, the semifinals Friday night in Detroit was the highlight of his coaching career. Saturday’s finals was one of the more heart-breaking days.

“They call it weddings and funerals,” said Ayres. “Saturday still sticks with me. It’s going to take a long time to get to that re-do.”

Glory and Monday are back for their senior seasons and one last chance at the Holy Grail. Glory has medaled three times and Monday has been an All-American twice – each were named All-Americans when the tournament was canceled because of COVID restrictions in 2020.

The Tigers open their 2022-2023 season by hosting their own Princeton Open on Sunday.

“I think the run is something I’ll remember the rest of my life, sitting and watching the 2021 tournament (when the Ivy League didn’t compete) on the couch was really hard, watching your prime go by,” said Glory, a former two-time New Jersey state champ at Delbarton. “It was important to come back and make a statement, prove people wrong. We didn’t fully send a message, so there’s still work to be done and there’s another opportunity.

“I couldn’t watch it for a long time. I’m really bad at watching myself lose. It was the beginning of the summer. It wasn’t anything he did, it was more what I didn’t do. If I had a previous experience in the national final, I would have wrestled differently.”

Said Monday: “I watched it the next day, I had to see it, I had to see what was going on, and it was tough. Like Ayres was saying we were working on that position (recently). I saw lapses of focus. I just have to maintain focus and be solid in trusting my technique.”

When Glory and Monday arrived as freshmen, it began an era when Princeton moved into the national discussion. Princeton finished 15th in the country at the 2019 NCAA championships. In 2020, the Tigers ended Cornell’s 92-match winning streak in the Ivy League and defeated Rutgers for the first time in 30 years.

Princeton has beaten Lehigh three times and last year defeated Arizona State when it was No. 6 in the country during their time in the program.

“I don’t even know if I could put into words how proud I am to be part of this team, it hasn’t always been this way,” said Glory. “I got emotional after the semis because I knew how much went into that moment. The trajectory Coach Ayres laid out for me when I was being recruited is being accomplished, and we’re no where near where our peak is going to be.

“When I was being recruited, my first thought was to get out of New Jersey because I knew I’d probably be here the rest of my life, and then I started to realize how special (Princeton) is.”

Fellow seniors Travis Stefanik and Marshall Keller have also been part of the program’s growth. Both have been NCAA qualifiers, and Stefanik notched the victory that clinched the win over Cornell – arguably the biggest team win in program history.

‘There’s been a couple classes like this, if you look at where we started, Brett Harner’s class (in 2017) was like this,” said Ayres. “This one is special out of All-Americans and placements at Easterns (EIWAs) and what they’ve done individually. I don’t think it’s an end of an era. They’re carrying the program to a new level, and it’s their last year to put their stamp on something. There’s legacy.”

The goal, of course, will be to send the seniors out in style and that means Glory and Monday being back in the NCAA final in Tulsa this coming March.

Glory could be tasked with trying to stop Iowa’s Spencer Lee from winning a fourth national title – becoming the fifth or sixth to do so (Cornell’s Yianni Diakomihalis is also going for four). Lee took a medical redshirt last year.

“It’s exciting,” said Glory. “Any time you get to compete at the highest level. … Spencer Lee is the highest level, I’m excited to test myself. Historically he’s been the best guy. The skill levels are comparable, and it’s who is better that day and who shows up to scrap for seven minutes.”

Monday, after flirting with going up to 165 pounds, will compete at 157 where he should be the favorite at the weight. He will meet Iowa State’s David Carr – a former national champion who like Monday has a father who was an NCAA champion– in an intriguing match at the NWCA All-Star Classic in a few weeks. Carr is moving up to 165 this year.

“I’m really trying to close this chapter out the right way,” said Monday. “I’m extremely proud of what my class has done. I think we saw this coming when we got here and looked at each other and felt the energy we brought. There were a few All-Americans to look up to like (Pat) Brucki and (Matthew) Kolodzik and we stepped into that role. We’re family, and we helped this program reach another level.”

Bill Evans can be reached at bevans@njadvancemedia.com. Thank you for relying on us to provide the journalism you can trust. Please consider supporting NJ.com with a subscription.

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