Both when it came to what sport to pursue and where to pursue it collegiately, Quincy Monday showed he’s not one to back down from a challenge.
Quincy’s father, Kenny, was a three-time Olympian, a gold medalist in Seoul in 1988, a silver medalist in Barcelona in 1992, and a sixth-place finisher when the Games came back stateside in 1996. All of that came after a college career at Oklahoma State that saw him win the 1984 NCAA title at 150 pounds.
It’s a resume that’s a lot to live up to. There’s no way, though, that the significance of all of those accomplishments could have been in young Quincy’s mind when he started in the sport. He was just spending time with his dad and thought what he saw the other kids doing was fun.
“Even when I was really young, he ran a club team for kids, so he took me to practice and I’d just sit on the side and watch, and eventually it got to the point where I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to wrestle,” Quincy Monday said. “I started at six and my love for the sport just kind of grew in myself. He let it foster within me. I don’t think he wrestled me too hard, but when I did decide to commit to it, he started training me and tried to get me to reach my full potential.”
Monday kept at it and found success quickly in high school, winning the 106-pound Texas 6A state title in 2015 and the 113-pound Texas 6A title in 2016, wrestling for Martin High in Arlington. After the family moved to North Carolina later that year, the wins kept on coming, with Monday taking the 132-pound 2A state title as a junior in 2017 and the 152-pound 2A state title as a senior in 2018 at Carrboro, near Chapel Hill.
When it came time to make his college choice, Quincy Monday decided to make his own way. Kenny Monday had wrestled at Oklahoma State when the Cowboys were proud owners of 27 NCAA titles, a number that now stands at a national-best 34. Quincy Monday’s two-years-older brother Kennedy Monday stayed in his new home state and will begin his senior season next winter at UNC. The Tigers and Tar Heels met each of the last two seasons, but the Monday brothers didn’t wrestle head-to-head. In this past season’s match, each picked up points for his team, with Quincy Monday, ranked fifth in the nation by Intermat, getting a 3-2 decision over 20th-ranked A.C. Headlee at 157 and Kennedy Monday following up with a 7-4 decision for North Carolina over eventual NCAA qualifier Grant Cuomo at 165.
Halfway through his Princeton career, Quincy Monday has already helped the program achieve heights unseen in decades. As a freshman, Monday finished third at EIWAs, helping Princeton finish third to match its best finish since 1978, and qualified for the NCAA Championships as Princeton finished 15th there, also for its best finish since ’78. He even had a win over Kenny Monday’s alma mater earlier in the season, beating Jonce Blaylock in a 6-5 decision when the Cowboys came to Jadwin for a dual.
Quincy Monday’s sophomore season brought more history-making moments. In the season’s first two dual matches, he won a top-10 battle with Lehigh’s Josh Humphreys, 8-6, to help Princeton beat Lehigh in back-to-back meetings for the first time since the 1930s. He followed that with another win over Dad’s Cowboys, knocking off Wyatt Sheets 3-2. Just two days after that trip to Oklahoma State, he turned right around to upset No. 1 Iowa’s fourth-ranked Kaleb Young 3-2 in Jadwin. A win later in December over Rider’s sixth-ranked Jesse Dellavecchia, avenging his only loss of the season to that point, vaulted him to fifth in the nation, and he went on to finish 23-4 with a top ranking of fourth. Along the way, he had wins against Cornell and Rutgers, helping Princeton beat the Big Red for the first time since 1986, win the program’s first Ivy title since that year, beat Rutgers for the first time since 1990 and complete the season sweep of New Jersey’s Division I programs for the first time 1983.
A runner-up finish at EIWAs was a career-best finish and earned him a return ticket to the NCAA Championships. Monday, of course, missed out on this year’s chance to equal his father as an NCAA champion once the tournament was cancelled, but he did get the chance to share another title with his dad once the National Wrestling Coaches Association named Monday as one of eight first-team All-Americans, part of Princeton’s program-best four All-American honorees, all first-teamers.
The historical balance between Quincy Monday’s alma mater and Kenny Monday’s tilts toward the father, to put it basically. This year’s four honorees gives Princeton 23 All-Americans all-time. Oklahoma State has 26 in the last five seasons, counting the three first-teamers it had in 2020, when the NWCA also awarded second-team and honorable mention All-Americans in addition to the usual eight All-American honorees decided by the top eight finishers at NCAAs.
But that Princeton outdid OSU in first-team All-Americans this year says something about why Quincy Monday chose a program like Princeton, one that may not have the depth of history of Kenny Monday’s Cowboys, but has a present and future that looks plenty enticing.
“When the coaches at Princeton first reached out to me, I saw that they had a vision for the future and they had really big aspirations, and that was really cool to me,” Quincy Monday said. “I wanted to be a part of a program that was building and able to set new records for the program each new year. I thought that would be a cool journey to be a part of. There are schools that have programs that are already well known and have a great history of being top programs in the country.”
I saw the vision that Coach Ayres had and Coach Dubuque and Coach Gray, and I really wanted to be a part of that.
Monday is no small part of that growth, and even with all the history the program has made since he’s been at Princeton, there’s still much more to achieve.
If the Tigers are able to repeat as Ivy League champions in 2021, it’d mark Princeton’s first back-to-back titles since 1985 and ’86, and only the sixth time Princeton has repeated as Ivy champs. The other five times all came between 1971 and ’86. The team remains in pursuit of its first EIWA title since 1978, and though we’ll never know how Princeton would have done at the 2020 NCAAs, it was on track to be among the program’s best ever. Princeton had its best finish in 1951, finishing fifth, while taking 14th place in 1978 and 15th in 2019.
The 1951 finish saw Princeton’s first and, heading into 2021, only NCAA individual champ in Bradley Glass ’53. Monday was one of six NCAA qualifiers from the 2020 team, seeded fifth at 157. Only one of the six qualifiers, Matthew Kolodzik, was a senior. Kolodzik, Monday, sophomore classmate Patrick Glory and junior Patrick Brucki were the four All-Americans that gave Princeton 10 honorees in the last five seasons, almost half of its total in program history.
With Monday among the returners, that upward trajectory looks to be in a good spot to continue. It’s a goal that’s apparent when looking at the preparation Princeton puts its wrestlers through during the regular season, one that saw the Tigers take on seven top-25 non-conference opponents, including four in the top 10.
“We have a really tough schedule and we see the best competition in the country so that by the time March comes around, we’re ready to go,” Monday said. “The way Princeton approaches our schedule is kind of the mindset I have. Our sport is about testing ourselves and pushing ourselves to the limit.”
Now a club coach in North Carolina, Kenny Monday’s competitive career is written, and written well. Quincy Monday’s is very much in progress, and between his drive to succeed and the example of success he’s had close by as long as he’s been on the mat, there’s every reason to think there’s still much more to be written.
We want to wrestle the best guys in the country. That’s what we’re in our sport for.
Part of the example Kenny Monday presents is the standard of success he has set. It’s one that could be demonstrated in neatly framed accolades like gold medals and All-America honors, but instead, what the Mondays have set as the standard for success lies in the process that might result in those accolades.
“Even if you’re not taking time in training, just mentally, being a student of the sport, watching matches or taking time to recover, (it’s about) just doing the best you can to improve all around. If you’re doing that, I don’t think you have to worry as much about other people,” Quincy Monday said. “I think it’s more about self-improvement compared to looking at other people and seeing how they’re doing. He just wants us to go out and wrestle to the best of our ability, and if we do that and it’s still not enough, then he’s still proud of us.”