St. Augustine’s Richie Grungo ends wrestling career in style

by Marc Narducci | Mar 15, 2023
St. Augustine’s Richie Grungo ends wrestling career in style
The wait was certainly worth it for St. Augustine senior wrestler Richie Grungo. A resident of Shamong, Burlington County, Grungo capped his high school career by winning the state championship at 144 pounds. He was the only wrestler from the seven-county South Jersey area to earn a state title.


“This is a dream come true,” he said in a phone interview. “I have been waiting for this day since I started wrestling.”
That start came as a nine-year-old. He has had a passion for the sport ever since. Grungo knows what it is like to wrestle in the pressurized environment of the state championships at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.


As a sophomore, he finished fifth and as a junior he was fourth. Those experiences from the past two years surely helped. “Every single year the goal is to climb and make jumps,” he said. “Being there before helped my confidence.”


Not only did he need confidence and skill but some peak conditioning to win this year’s title. Wrestling is one of the most physically demanding sports, with six minutes that test a competitor’s physical and mental strength. Adding to that, Grungo needed a little extra time to earn his title. That’s because after regulation he and Yannis Charles of St. Joseph Montvale were tied at 1-1.

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Both wrestlers had exchanged escapes during regulation. Then Grungo won it in the sudden victory over overtime on a takedown and two back points, 41 seconds into the extra period. 
“We train to go into overtime,” Grungo said. “At that point, I was tired from the whole tournament and my legs started feeling sore, but I knew I had to make one more push.”


When he finally got the takedown and knew he secured the state title, he had a natural reaction. “I couldn’t help all the emotions going on,” he said.


Grungo will continue his education and wrestling career at Lehigh He made his decision in April of his junior year to attend Lehigh, a perennial wrestling power, and having his college decision behind him was a benefit during his senior season.


“I was able to focus on my training and academics, so it was great that I had that decision made before my senior year,” he said. 
Grungo said he was boosted by the capacity crowd, which consisted of a passionate contingent from St. Augustine, along with other family and friends.  “The crowd definitely pumped me up,” he said. 


This culminated quite a season in which Grungo finished with a 30-2 record and also earned District 32 and Region 8 titles as well while saving his best for last.

 

Photo Courtesy: Richie Grungo


Author: Marc Narducci

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