In the annals of New Jersey high school athletics, few sports invoke the passion that wrestling does. With that said, Princeton University has an event on its docket which will surely bring the proverbial house down on Saturday, Dec. 14.
On that day, Princeton Tigers wrestling will make a long-awaited return to legendary Jadwin Gym when it welcomes Rutgers University for a match that will also celebrate the greatness that is New Jersey high school wrestling. According to Princeton head wrestling coach Chris Ayres, the festivities surrounding the match of two historic NCAA schools, will be a sight to behold.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity for our program to compete at Jadwin, once again,” Ayres said. “And wrestling Rutgers is a natural for us, especially with what we have planned for that night.”
IPhoto courtesy of GoPrincetonTigers.com)
According to Ayres and assistant coach Joe Dubuque, every living NJSIAA wrestling champion will be invited, and honored, at the event. The first New Jersey state champions in high school wrestling were crowned back in 1934, meaning a wrestler from that era could very well be a World War II vet and is in his late 80s. In 1934, there were nine champions, with five hailing from Newton High School, ironically Ayres’ alma mater. The weight classes back then started at 95 pounds and extended through the heavyweight bracket.
“I’m pretty sure Newton still has the most state champions,” said Ayres, proudly. “It’s amazing how this sport keeps people together, long after their final match.”
Dubuque was a two-time NJSIAA champion (2000 and 2001) while wrestling at Glen Ridge High School. He would follow his high school career with an even more impressive collegiate performance, including back-to-back NCAA titles at the University of Indiana in 2005 and 2006.
“I think the event will have a lot of juice, and to be able to welcome back every living state champion really adds something special,” said Dubuque. “We want to get the word out and make this a big night.”
The match will start at 5 p.m. For those fans who enjoy the history of college athletics, Princeton and Rutgers played in the first-ever football game in 1869, and while the two schools share the same state and are relatively close, geographically, the schools don’t meet often in intercollegiate athletics.
The coaches at Princeton are also extending invitations to current New Jersey high school wrestling teams to be a part of the night on Dec. 14.
“It’s all about the history and passion that makes up high school wrestling,” said Ayres. “No better than to have current high school wrestling teams and their coaches share the night with us, too.”
For more information, contact Dubuque at Princeton, by E-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 609-258-5248.