Aged heavyweight returns to mat

Aged+heavyweight+returns+to+mat

Matt Gregorio

Greg Grimes watches a wrestling match Jan. 22 at the UPJ Sports Center.

Nate Bottiger, Staff Writer

Wrestling can be a grueling sport, even for those who are still young, but one Johnstown wrestler is determined to not let his age provide an excuse to avoid it.

After transferring from Slippery Rock University to Pitt-Johnstown in the fall of 2002, at age 28 Greg Grimes wrestled under now-mentor and close friend, Head Wrestling Coach Pat Pecora.

With one semester of eligibility left and only two classes away from a diploma, Grimes is finishing up on the mat.

Pecora said he just assumed Grimes had graduated upon his departure from Slippery Rock University, and that he did not know that Grimes did not graduate until the two started to joke about Grimes coming back to wrestle.

Pecora said the one semester of eligibility is an incentive to come back and get the degree that Grimes is so close to having.

At the moment, sophomore Josh Krupa is still the No.1 heavyweight, but Grimes, now 36 years old, has also seen some mat time this season.

Grimes competed well at the Washington (Pa.) & Jefferson Collegiate Open, finishing the day with a 4-1 record and a fourth-place finish.

Grimes beat his first opponent J.D. Ramsey, who is currently ranked sixth in the nation at 285 lbs. Grimes won his way to the semifinals where he received a close loss, and at which point Grimes said he defaulted his way to the fourth-place finish.

Pecora said he was most impressed by the semifinal bout because he saw that, despite how weathered Grimes looked, he had stuck it out until the end, determined to finish the match strong.

Grimes said after being worn down throughout the day and sustaining an injury to his ankle in the semifinals, he was ready to end the day on a good note and be able to walk out of the gym on his own.

The other match that Grimes competed in was against Kutztown (Pa.) University, in which the 36-year-old won 2-1, and received a standing ovation before the match had even begun.

Sophomore Heavyweight Zach Baker said Grimes has wrestled well thus far, and has proven himself.

“I think he surprised a lot of his opponents with his strength and ability to move because, when you think of a 36-year-old, you don’t think he can do that.”

Despite the accolade, Grimes said his performance in the match was not his best, and that he was up late the previous night tending to his sick child.

Although Grimes has proven himself in these occasions, Krupa is still seeing the majority of the mat time, but Grimes does not seem to mind.

Instead, Grimes focuses on helping his fellow heavyweights in practices and matches, as their coach and teammate.

Grimes said Krupa has improved leaps and bounds since Grimes’ arrival, and that sophomore Zach Baker is a good technician and is always honing his technique.

Baker said, at the end of the day, working out with Grimes is just like working out with anyone else.

Grimes said the trio is the perfect workout group because they can rotate from having two men wrestling while the third stands back and observes until it’s his turn to jump in.

“Some days they’re like my two sons, some days we’re the Three Musketeers, and some days we’re the Three Stooges.”

Grimes said he’s helped out in the past with wrestlers in the heavier classes. Damian Majocha and Chris Dempsey, both graduated last year, have now become good friends with Grimes after working with him in the mat room.

Pecora said Grimes was to have seen some mat time this weekend, and he would also like to see him wrestle at the senior night match against Anderson (S.C.) University.

“He’s been an asset to me, to Josh (Krupa), and all the other wrestlers on the team.”

Grimes said he has enjoyed this experience thus far, and is looking forward to the rest of the season. He said he hopes that his wife and children can come to see him wrestle in a match.

“It really feels like heaven,” Grimes said. “It’s wrestling heaven.”