OSWEGO — Oswego State wrestling head coach Mike Howard said his two wrestlers that are headed to nationals have gotten over the first obstacle: qualifying.
Charlie Grygas and Christian Gramuglia are heading to the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championship Tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa this weekend. Both qualified with a third-place finish in their respective weight classes at the NCAA Mideast Regionals last weekend.
With only a two-week period between regionals and the national championships, Howard mentioned that the coaching staff is trying to work on the skills that got both wrestlers to this point in the season.
“We’re trying to keep everything the same and not throw any curveballs at these guys,” he said. “We’ll give them some freedom to drill their techniques and finish their stuff, but not try to control all of the workouts. We’ll put them in what they’re familiar with and then have success in those situations.”
After falling in the semifinals of the regional tournament, Grygas (165 pounds) and Gramuglia (157) had to fight for third place in the consolation brackets of their respective weight classes.
Gramuglia had a fall against Penn College’s Erik Schreck only 41 seconds into the match and then won 10-5 decision over Cortland’s Ben Bivar.
Gramuglia eventually fell to Sam Schneider of Ithaca College after a 7-4 decision. He redeemed himself with a win over Bivar again in the third-place match, this time a 7-5 decision. Gramuglia was named to the Empire Collegiate Wrestling Conference All-Conference team.
Since this is Gramuglia’s first experience at the national championships, he added he doesn’t really know what to expect. He also said that his goal at nationals is to be an All-American, which would require him to get on the podium.
“Placing third was pretty cool and it definitely gives me some confidence because I’ve never made it to nationals,” he said. “I’ve practiced my whole life to reach nationals. I just want to take it one step at a time and see how I do this year and go from there.”
Gramuglia’s national championship bracket starts with an opening match against Ryan Whitten from Otterbein University. If Gramuglia wins, he will have to face Grant Zamin from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, the top-ranked wrestler in the nation in the 157-pound weight class.
“He’s capable of winning tight matches. He’s explosive enough where he can put matches away quickly,” Howard said. “We’re expecting big things from him this year and next year, allowing him to go out with a bang for his senior year.”
At regionals, Grygas defeated Brockport’s Matthew Kline with an 8-3 decision, followed by an 8-7 decision over New Jersey’s John Garda. The freshman fell to the eventual regional champion, RIT’s Dempsey King, by a 6-0 decision.
Grygas defeated Muhlenberg College’s Dylan Schwartz with a 6-4 sudden victory in the consolation bracket to propel himself to third place.
Grygas also won the ECWC 165-pound weight class over Thomas Marrone with a fall at 3:21. He was named to the ECWC All-Conference team as well. Grygas said his goal at nationals is to podium and “get his name on the board.”
“The training, just knowing that we’re going to nationals, it just intensifies it all,” he said. “I feel like I have a lot of potential to keep working hard and get a lot better (later in my career).”
Grygas’ tournament will begin with a match against Eddie Smith from Loras College, who is ranked fifth in the nation in the 165-pound weight class.
“He’s got an opportunity to wrestle at a really high level. I think he’ll have a quality experience,” Howard said. “He’s a competitor and fights for every point. We’re certainly excited about what he’s going to bring to the table in the next four years, but right now we’re focused on the NCAA Championships this weekend.”
Going into nationals, Howard added everybody is equal when the tournament begins, and that “anybody can win and put themselves on the podium.”
“(Gramuglia and Grygas) had to win two critical matches for their tickets to be punched. Obviously, momentum is on their side,” he said. “They had the intensity it took to get them to that third-place match, so hopefully it’ll carry over into nationals.”