Princeton’s Pat Glory celebrates his NCAA semifinal win on March 17.
Ian Maule/Tulsa World via AP
Patrick Glory ’23 captures the Tigers’ first national championship since 1951

TULSA, Okla. — He staged his walkout to Springsteen, a fellow Jersey boy. He appeared on the Bank of Oklahoma Center’s Megatron with a banner-sized American flag (plus, per one alumnus, “the hopes and minds of every man who ever wore a Princeton singlet”) on his shoulders. He skipped to the center of the championship mat. And then, at the whistle-start Saturday night, 125-pound senior Patrick Glory dropped the theatrics. With seven minutes of tighter, tenser wrestling than his guns-blazing trademark style, he won Princeton wrestling its first national title since 1951.

Glory was on his knees — up 3-1 against No. 4 seed Matt Ramos of Purdue, with a riding-time point secured — when time expired. Beaming, arms wide, he let himself collapse. Head coach Chris Ayres punched the air. Assistant Joe Dubuque leapt into it. Glory cried. Rich Tavoso ’85 cried. Ayres “almost” did. In the nosebleed seats, senior heavyweight Travis Stefanik’s voice gave out. At least one Oklahoma State Police lieutenant manning the arena floor welled up. “Watching history get made just gets to me,” he said. Glory jumped into Dubuque’s arms. Springsteen came back on. (“Born in the U.S.A.” this year — he used “Glory Days” in 2022.)

“Princeton’s got themselves a champion,” ESPN’s Jim Gibbons said to co-analyst Jordan Burroughs.

Burroughs to Gibbons: “They’ve got themselves a program.”

And they do. At Tulsa’s three-day NCAA Tournament, Princeton wrestling extended its five-year milestone run. Glory and 165-pound senior Quincy Monday — last year’s first simultaneous NCAA finalists for Princeton — led the Tigers to a 13th-place finish, their best performance since placing fifth in 1951, the year Bradley Glass ’53 won his national title.

Glory joined Matthew Kolodzik ’21 in the four-time All-American club and became the second Princetonian, after John Orr ’85, to appear in two NCAA finals. (Both wrestlers were watching from the stands. “It’s a family,” Kolodzik said.) In league only with Kolodzik and Glory, Monday earned his third All-American honors en route to a hard-won third-place finish.

He and Glory had both arrived in Tulsa title-hunting. “This doesn’t really feel like anything yet,” said Glory Friday night, after an 8-2 decision in semifinals over Nebraska’s Liam Cronin, the No. 3 seed. “As the late, great Kobe Bryant said: Job not finished.” Monday was more succinct. “I’m here for one thing,” he said.

Monday, though, had to get through the tournament’s deadliest bracket: three returning NCAA champions, four other All-Americans, a Big Ten champion, and a national finalist all vying for the 165-pound title. Monday soared through his opening rounds. But those wins took him face to face in the semifinals with Iowa State’s 2021 NCAA champion and No. 1 seed David Carr: son of Nate Carr, a storied ’80s rival of Monday’s father, Olympic gold medalist Kenny Monday. The juniors had squared off at November’s National Wrestling Coaches Association’s All-Star Classic, where Carr squeaked by, besting Monday 2-1 on a riding-time point.

In Tulsa, he did it again. Monday roared out to a terror of a first period and closed it out 5-2. But he just couldn’t keep up with Carr in the second and the third. The Cyclones’ star flipped the riding clock in his favor to win again, 6-5.

The Glory-Monday championships that the wrestlers — roommates, teammates, “family,” Monday said — had dreamed about was out of reach. Monday kept wrestling. He bounced back Saturday morning with a 9-7 upset of Wisconsin’s No. 3 seed Dean Hamiti and a 3-2 win over Michigan’s no. 11 Cameron Amine. And then Dubuque and Associate Head Coach Sean Gray held their athlete tight.

“I wanted to go out on my own terms,” Monday said. “I wanted to win a national championship. But I’ll take the next best thing.” And to see Glory still claim a title? “It would mean everything.”

Glory was on his way. He pinned Oklahoma State’s No. 31 Reece Witcraft only 32 seconds into their round-of-32 match. In four straight rounds, he scored in the first period’s first 15 seconds. In 28 minutes of wrestling, he racked up more than 15 points of riding time.  

Which makes more impressive the fact that Purdue’s Ramos — who pulled off the upset of the tournament by pinning three-time NCAA champion Spencer Lee, Glory’s presumed final-round opponent — forced Glory into a decidedly pared-down match.

“The kid will win a national championship one day,” said Ayres, grinning ear to ear at a post-finals reception in downtown Tulsa. “But not today. All that matters is it wasn’t today.”