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Shannon Scovel | January 13, 2020

What happened when Princeton wrestling's ultra-tough schedule took it to North Carolina

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Anybody, anytime, anywhere. 

That's the motto that Princeton wrestling has come to be defined by in the Chris Ayres era. The Tiger schedule is loaded with top-ranked team after top-ranked team. It's among the toughest, if not THE toughest schedule in wrestling. One example: Princeton took on Oklahoma State in historic Gallagher-Iba Arena on Dec. 6 before flying back to New Jersey to welcome No. 1 Iowa to Jadwin Gym on Sunday, Dec. 8. They're doing the same in 2020 and spent last week in North Carolina to take on the No. 17 Tar Heels on Jan. 10 and No. 6 North Carolina State on Jan. 11. 

Let's look at what the No. 12 Tigers did this weekend and what it could mean for them the rest of this season.

The Tigers have a strong trio in Patrick Brucki, Patrick Glory and Quincy Monday, and two of those three stars went undefeated on the weekend. Had a few other matches swung one or two points in the other direction, the Tigers could have left North Carolina on a more positive note, but for now, the team will look to gain its confidence back as it heads into its conference schedule.

Friday night's 14-point loss to North Carolina

The 25-11 drop to North Carolina probably hurt the Tigers the most, as they had just come off of a strong fifth-place showing at the Midlands and, prior to that, a dominating performance against then No. 25 Rider. 

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Princeton's steady three in Patrick Brucki, Patrick Glory and Quincy Monday all picked up victories against the Tar Heels, but that proved to be the end of the points for the Tigers. Glory was also the only one of the three to add bonus points, a fact that helps explain the low Princeton point-scoring output from the team as a whole. Princeton's only other ranked athlete, No. 15 Mike D'Angelo, faced No. 2 Austin O'Connor in his bout and suffered a pin against the North Carolina All-American. 

The Tigers were in the hunt early, as the match started with Brucki's win at 197 pounds, but the lead started to fall away fast after Glory's win. No. 14 Zach Sherman picked up bonus points against Princeton's Marshall Keller, and the Tigers then lost three decisions in a row at 165, 174 and 184. Princeton's performance wasn't poor, but they didn't live up to their ranking. 

Saturday was a chance to rebound for Princeton, but it didn't happen.

Saturday afternoon's 17-point loss to North Carolina State

Glory and Brucki showed up big again against the second North Carolina opponent of the weekend, taking down Thomas Cox and Nick Reenan of the Wolfpack, respectively. The 125-pound Glory picked up his second bonus point win and put five team points on the board with his tech fall over Cox, and Brucki’s win came via bonus points as well. 

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The dual, however, started at 174 pounds, putting the Tigers in an early hole after North Carolina State’s Daniel Bullard pinned Kevin Parker in the first period. Wolfpack freshman No. 2 Trent Hidlay added to the damage, earning a major decision against Nathan Dugan and giving North Carolina State a 10-point lead after two bouts. The Princeton Patricks helped break up the losses as Brucki and Glory sandwiched their wins on either side of Aidan Conner’s drop to Deonte Wilson by decision. 

North Carolina State won a tight bout at 133 pounds before All-American Tariq Wilson earned a 17-4 major decision over Keller at 141. 

A medical forfeit at 149 pounds hurt the Tigers, as did a decision loss against No. 2 Hayden Hidlay at 157 pounds. Quincy Monday fought tough, but he couldn’t add any points to the Tiger total after falling 7-2 to the two-time NCAA All-American. Aside from Patrick Brucki, 165-pound Grant Cuomo was the only other Tiger to score in the back half to the dual, but his gritty 7-6 victory wasn’t enough to close the gap that the Pack had built, and North Carolina State walked away with the 29-12 win.

Looking forward

Two losses to two top-20 ranked team should not be seen as a major blow to Princeton. This team is fiery and they have a grit that stands out from the masses. 

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The Tiger schedule also lightens up a bit as the team is off from competition until Jan. 31 when it wrestles Harvard on Friday and Brown on Saturday. The next big test for the Tigers will come on Feb. 9 against No. 19 Cornell, but the Big Red represent the only ranked team left for a Princeton squad that has been battling the best since the season started. 

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