Anybody with siblings can recall past wrestling matches (playful or serious) with brothers or sisters…or both. These sibling rivalries tend to die down with age, but in the case of Joe and Pete Grippi, the childhood battles have followed them to the wrestling mats of Springfield College.
The brothers’ wrestling history extends far beyond Blake Arena.
“As kids, we actually used to have a mat in our basement and we would wrestle all the time…a lot of fights happened because of that,” said Joe, the elder of the two. Once the basement became too small, the brothers began training at a local gym.
Eventually, the brotherly-bouts would turn into matches against unknown competitors.
“I started wrestling (for real) in 7th grade, and Pete started around the same time,” said Joe. “We were on the same high school team since he was in 8th grade.”
While at Fox Lane High School in Bedford Hills, N.Y., Joe was a two-time section champion and all-state selection as well as a state finalist. He also set the record for career wins (170), which was broken a couple of years after his departure. Upon his arrival at SC, Joe, now a junior, simply kept adding to the accolades.
The elder brother is currently ranked eighth in the nation and just punched his ticket to the NCAA Championships in La Crosse, Wis. (March 9-10) this past weekend. It will be his third trip in three years.
So when Pete arrived at SC this past September, he did so in full awareness of the shadow in which he would be cast under. Did he ever consider another school in an attempt to escape the pressure of living up to his brother’s name?
“Never,” said the younger Grippi. “Springfield was my first and main choice. It’s been great having him on the team. He let me know of the challenges that were ahead of me.”
The sibling rivalry, while still present at times, has worn off for the most part, allowing Pete to seek advice from his brother, who is more than willing help.
“The main piece of advice I’ve given him is to keep working hard because the college season is a lot longer than the high school season, so staying focused and working hard for the whole year is important.”
The focus his brother preached about seemed to stick with Pete, as he had a promising first season which he described as “very successful and fun.”
As the aforementioned accolades show, Joe’s season was a success as well, and nobody is more proud of his accomplishments than his brother.
“It’s always great to watch a teammate be successful, but even more so with my brother. His success has motivated me to always keep me wanting to strive for higher accomplishments,” said Pete.
This time around, Joe is hoping that a change in weight class will better allow him a chance to win a championship.
“I’ve been to Nationals twice before and came close to placing but haven’t. My ultimate goal individually is to win a national title, which was why I decided to drop down from 141 to 133[pounds],” said Joe Grippi.
Despite his individual accomplishments, Joe has a team-first approach.
“We had a really good season,” said Grippi. “After a rough first tournament, everything went great. It was our best since I’ve been here, even though we came up short of our biggest goal which was winning a conference title.”
The Pride finished the season ranked No. 11 in the country.
For both brothers, the season was made all the more enjoyable by the family reunion.
“We grew up always wrestling together, so having him here has been fun,” said the elder.
Pete echoed the same feeling,
“It was a fun year. Thankfully, we have one more together.”
Notes: SC was unable to capture the NEWA Championship last Saturday, however, a few wrestlers will continue their seasons. Senior Ryan McGilvray, along with juniors Grippi and Derrick Longo, each won their weight classes and have all earned spots in the NCAA Championships held Mar. 9-10 in La Cross, Wis.
Matt Fraser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org