Fans at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, during Saturday’s medal round of the NCAA Division 1 wrestling tournament wanted to thank Stanford’s Shane Griffith and tell him how much he has meant to them and the sport over the past three years.
They gave him a standing ovation as he left the mat after defeating Wisconsin’s Dean Hamity 4-1 in the fifth-place match at 165 pounds — a nod to the big role he played in keeping the Stanford program winning the 165-pound national championship in 2021 year.
The Stanford program was slated to be canceled after the 2021 season. The school administration made such a statement in the summer of 2020. Pleas and monetary donations to save the program fell largely on deaf ears until Griffith won his title in St. Louis.
The momentum from Griffith’s title became an unstoppable locomotive.
“He was the catalyst for the movement to keep Stanford wrestling,” longtime wrestling analyst Tim Johnson said Saturday on ESPN U. “Thankfully, the wrestling world came together and here he is in a Stanford uniform.”
“There are a lot of guys who have won national championships, but very few who have kept a wrestling program going,” ESPN reporter Quint Kessenich told Griffith.
Grift wiped tears from his eyes when asked about the standing ovation and his Kesenic legacy.
“I was doing what I was taught from childhood,” Griffith said. – Just being able to do things and do what I had to do meant everything to me and my family. It’s amazing just to think that you can touch and move people and do something bigger than yourself.”
A Stanford program with a distinguished tradition lives and lives its second life. His head coach is the legendary Rob Kohl, who is in his second season at Stanford after a highly successful 28-season career at Cornell.
Last season, Grift finished second at 165 after losing 6-5 to Missouri’s Keegan O’Toole. He reached the quarterfinals this season before losing 2-1 on riding time to 2021 157-pound champion David Carr of Iowa State.
Griffith, a three-time NJSIAA champion at Bergen Catholic, is just the third three-time All-American in Stanford history.
Quincy Munday is closing out a special career
Quincy Munday will forever be remembered as one of the greatest in the history of the Princeton University program after he finished his career with a third-place finish in the 165-pound weight class.
He is only Princeton’s third three-time All-American. He was second with 157 last season and a national wrestling All-American in 2020 when the NCAA tournament was canceled due to the pandemic.
Other three-time All-Americans are four-time Pat Glory and Matt Kolodik.
Monday is one of four wrestlers in Princeton history to finish in the top three twice. The others are Glory, who was second last season, Bradley Glass (first at heavyweight in 1951 and third at 191 in 1953) and John Orr (second at 142 in 1984 and ’85).
As he left the mat, Monday exchanged hugs with the entire Princeton coaching staff, including head coach Chris Ayres. He clapped his hands to the children sitting in the first row and looked at the father and mother who were wiping away tears.
Monday’s father, Kenny, is one of the legendary figures in wrestling. He was a national champion at 150 pounds for Oklahoma State at the Meadowlands in 1984 and an Olympic gold medalist at 74 pounds in Seoul, South Korea in 1988. Kenny Munday is now the head coach at Morgan State University, which has rebuilt its program this season.
“He taught me so many life lessons in wrestling — discipline, courage and self-belief,” Monday said of his father in an interview with ESPN U as he left the mat after a 3-2 win over Michigan. Cam Amin in the third-place battle. “I truly believe I can do anything if I put my mind to it.”
“They (his parents) have supported me so much over the years. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Monday could join his father’s coaching staff at Morgan State in the near future.
“There’s a good chance. I’m not quite sure what I’m doing yet. I’d like to help him build it. I’m still at Princeton. I’d like to see this program grow a little further. I’ve got to figure out what I want to do
Monday lost to Carr 6-5 in the riding time semifinals. On Saturday, he beat Wisconsin’s Dean Hamity for the second time this season before his fight with Amin.
“I wanted to get a national title, no less,” Panadjelak said. — But it takes courage to come back and take third place. That’s how I wanted to end my career – on a high.”
Shane Van Ness and Chris Foca finished third
It was a standout tournament for both Pennsylvania redshirt freshman Shane Van Ness and Cornell junior Chris Fauci.
Van Ness came in from the No. 12 seed to finish third with a 149. Foca tied for third with a 174.
It was a wild tournament for Van Ness, a former Blair Academy star and Somerville native. He rallied from a huge disadvantage to win two of his first three bouts.
Three-time champion Yanni Diacomihalis of Cornell University was then on the ropes in the semifinals before Diacomihalis rallied to win 8-3. Diakomihalis will try to become a fifth four-time champion tonight against Ohio State’s Sammy Sasso.
In the third-place match, Van Ness defeated Arizona State’s Kyle Park 7-2. He defeated Virginia Tech’s Caleb Hanson 5-3 in the wrestling semifinals.
Foka, the 2019 NJSIAA champion in the 182-pound division at Bergen Catholic, defeated Virginia Tech’s Mehi Lewis on a riding time in the first tiebreaker of the third-place match. Foca advanced to the third-place bout with a 7-2 decision over Iowa’s Nelson Brands in the wrestling semifinals.
He reached the semifinals before losing to two-time Pennsylvania champion Carter Starocci.
Lewis, a two-time NJSIAA champion at Bound Brook, added a fourth-place medal to the 165-pound title he won in 2019 and to Starocci, who finished second last season.
He suffered a sudden victory from Nebraska’s Mikey Labriola in the semifinals before defeating Oklahoma State’s Dustin Plott in the wrestling semifinals.
Rider’s Ethan Laird placed sixth at 197 pounds. He is the Broncs’ second medalist in three seasons and was their second semifinalist in that span. He was defeated by Pitt’s Nino Bonacorsi in the semifinals.
Great tournament for Eddie Ventresca
A seed is just a number. They are not the end all.
Virginia Tech freshman 125-pounder Eddie Ventresco proved that by finishing seventh after being seeded 27th.
Ventresco, the 2019 120-pound state champion at Pope John, advanced to the quarterfinals with wins over No. 6 and No. 11 seeds. He came close to reaching the semifinals before falling 3-1 in sudden victory to the No. 3 and fifth-place Liam Cronin of Nebraska in the quarterfinals.
He earned All-American honors Friday night with a win over two-time Wisconsin All-American Eric Barnett.
In the seventh-place match, Ventresco went 7-6 over West Virginia’s Killian Cardinale, who also showed that seeding is just a number. He was seeded #28.
Cornell junior Jacob Cardenas, a two-time NJSIAA champion at Bergen Catholic, placed eighth. In the seventh-place match, he lost 4-2 to Penn State’s 2022 champion Max Dean.
On Friday, Cardenas won three bouts to claim his medal after losing in the preliminary quarterfinals to finalist Tanner Sloan of South Dakota State.