Princeton wrestling relishing “biggest win in program history” over Lehigh

December 5, 2018

Dale Tiongson's upset and Patrick Brucki's clincher helped the Tigers upset the nation's No. 8 team. Pat Glory, Matt Kolodzik and Kevin Parker also won for Princeton

There was a strong indication at the beginning of the 2018-2019 wrestling season that Princeton University could field one of its strongest wrestling teams ever. 

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A heralded freshman class spear-headed by Delbarton two-time state champion Pat Glory and the country’s No. 1-ranked wrestler at 149 pounds, Matt Kolodzik, meant the Tigers were primed to take a big jump. 




Last Friday, Princeton took that jump, defeating No. 8 Lehigh, 21-19, in a road dual at sold-out Grace Hall. 

“It was probably the program’s biggest win ever,” said Princeton coach Chris Ayres, who was a Lehigh wrestler and assistant coach. “We’ve never beaten them there, and 1968 was the last year Princeton beat them period and we’ve wrestled them a lot of times.” 

N.J. in national college rankings

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Princeton took a couple close losses early in the dual as freshman Marshall Keller (141) and Quincy Monday (157) both fell by a point, and it seemed like the match was trending towards finishing like the Tigers’ 22-18 loss at Wisconsin 12 days earlier. 

But then sophomore Dale Tiongson upset No. 11 Cole Walter, 5-3, at 165 pounds, and the Tigers could see their way to the upset. Freshman Travis Stefanik (174) held seventh-ranked Jordan Kutler to a decision, which enabled junior Kevin Parker’s technical fall at 184 and Patrick Brucki’s 7-4 win over Jake Jakobsen at 197 to clinch the dual. 

Brucki was ranked seventh in the country and Jakobsen 15th.  Glory (125) and Kolodzik (149) won by technical fall, earning key bonus points.

“Dale was our MVP 100 percent,” said Ayres. “Sometimes progression is not a gradual steady curve. You make big jumps and he made a big jump in the Lehigh match. He stayed in the fight. He smelled blood and kept the heat on. It was exciting.” 

Ayres said the groundwork for the win at Lehigh started in the previous match. Princeton lost to No. 3 Iowa, 31-10, before falling to Wisconsin, which was then ranked 15th, 22-18. 

Wisconsin is now 6-0 and ranked 10th, but Ayres felt like the match slipped through their fingers. 

“The Wisconsin match was a tough one to take,” admitted Ayres. “But an interesting thing happened. … I don’t lay into teams much. We didn’t wrestle terribly, but there were three matches that could have gone our way and didn’t and I let them know that. Then I went down to the locker room myself. 

“When the team got down there, Pat Glory made a statement, said he wanted to talk to everyone and he said the team had to decide what they wanted to be. A couple other guys talked and at that point I really felt like they took ownership of the team, and it was a pretty cool moment. 

“I think when we look back at this season, it will be pre-Iowa trip and post-Iowa trip. We came out of that trip a different team.” 

Princeton has another chance this weekend to build on the Lehigh victory, wrestling No. 14 Virginia Tech and Virginia. A pair of wins should keep the Tigers in the national Top 20 to stay – and not just for this year considering they don’t have a senior in their lineup.

Princeton is currently unranked by the NCAA but is 14th by FloWrestling and is 13th as a tournament team by Intermat.

“When you say you belong among the top 10 teams in the country, you need validation and Lehigh gave us that,” said Ayres. “Our guys know the schedule in front of them. It might be the toughest in the country. But we’re not going into any of these matches asking how are we going to win this match? We know we can.”

Bill Evans can be reached at bevans@njadvancemedia.com or by leaving a note in the comments below. Follow him on Twitter @BEvansSports. Like our NJ.com High School Wrestling Facebook Page.

This article was originally published by Nj.com. Read the original article here.

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