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Princeton wrestling coach reacts as Ivy League cancels winter sports


Princeton wrestling coach reacts as Ivy League cancels winter sports

There will be no cool slogans for the Princeton University wrestling team this year, no #GetIn or #Burntheships.

There will also be no defending the Ivy League wrestling title it won dramatically over Cornell last year and no wrestlers headed to the NCAA Wrestling Championships in St Louis to chase All-American titles.

The Ivy League announced on Thursday it was canceling winter sports – the first Division I league to do so – including wrestling, where Cornell was expected to compete for a national title and Princeton had put itself in the national spotlight the last two years.

But Princeton coach Chris Ayres had already braced himself.

The league was the first to cancel its conference basketball tournament in March and did not hold fall sports this past year. It was always going to be among the most cautious leagues in terms of moving forward.

“In the last week just the way the (COVID-19) numbers are up, we were still waiting to hear if we would be able to have kids on campus (for classes) so I was prepared for it and it wasn’t anything shocking,” admitted Ayres. “I’m honestly kind of numb to it now, just like OK, more bad news. But our whole phrase is what’s next? So we’ll figure something else to work for, stay positive, sane and happy and prepare for whatever the next wrestling event is.”

The Tigers had already prepared for what was going to be a strange and different year even if it was held. All-Americans Pat Glory and Quincy Monday as well as other starters Travis Stefanik and Grant Cuomo were among a number of wrestlers who were grey-shirting this season – not enrolled in school or using eligibility.

“We were already planning on the possibility of doing it, but when COVID hit, now we said this is what’s going to happen,” said Ayres. “We should have a really strong season next year and the following year I think we can go to nationals and win a (top-four) trophy.”

The wrestling season was canceled last year a week before the NCAA Championships in Minnesota. This season – which would already be under way in normal times –  has yet to begin but is expected to start after the new year.

It however wont include Princeton or any other Ivy League teams. Ayres said some matches were being scheduled but not announced – an opening date against Rutgers was on the table – in the hopes the Ivy League would compete.

The Tigers were already dealing with some off-season roster losses. Two-time All-American Patrick Brucki announced he would complete his degree at Princeton this year, then transfer to Michigan for his final season of eligibility.

Matt Kolodzik, a four-time All-American, had his appeal denied for an extra season of eligibility. Kolodzik joined the team in February last year after initially deciding he was going to take an Olympic redshirt and only competed in a handful of matches.

Ayres said it’s possible Kolodzik could legally challenge the decision.

Princeton can continue to practice and it will do so with some wrestlers competing in non-college events. Glory is in Nebraska at the Junior and U23 Nationals this weekend.

Next year Ayres believes Princeton’s ascension to becoming a national power will pick up where it left off.

“I don’t think this is going to hurt us,” said Ayres.

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