The (Wild) Cats’ Meow: 3x NYS Finalist/’09 Champion Greene Verbals to Northwestern

Northwestern

Those of you who have followed my writings from local message board icon (kidding, of course) to freelance wrestling journalist know that I have always had a special place in my heart for the New York State Catholic League. It was the place of origin of my now well established affinity for the world’s oldest and greatest sport (to borrow from one of my literary heroes, Mike Chapman). Therefore, it is no understatement to say that I take immense pride and satisfaction when learning that one of its student-athletes has “done good”. For this reason, last night took on great significance to me when I was informed that the league’s brightest star, 3x NYS finalist/2009 NYS DI Champion, Grant Greene, of St. Anthony’s High School, had given a verbal commitment to compete for Coach Drew Pariano as a part of the class of 2015 at Northwestern University. Greene, who will be named to the top-10 seniors list when the New York installment of the Wrestling-49 series is released at a future date, becomes the first rising senior from the recruiting class of 2011 to formally announce his intentions to continue his academic and athletic pursuits at the Evanston, IL based institution of higher learning.

Taking center stage as an eighth-grader, it was not long before all Empire State wrestling aficionados knew Greene’s name as he would go on to finish as the 2007 DII state runner-up at the 96-pound weight class as a representative of Nassau County and Cold Spring Harbor High School (with a first period pin over the current #29 recruit from the class of 2012, Quinton Murphy, highlighting this run to the championship bout).

As a freshman, Greene and his family opted to seek out a higher caliber of competition by enrolling in the South Huntington located private school. In addition to putting him in a position to compete for a chance to qualify for the DI state tournament, the family’s decision also allowed Greene’s vast talents to be cultivated further by an excellent coaching staff consisting of former West Virginia University/top-10 U.S. Senior Freestyle ranked wrestler, Antoni Walters, former NYS runner-up Keith Eckert (who competed for St. Anthony’s from 1998-2001) as well as a host of other gifted staff personnel (3x NCAA DI All-American Charlie Heard and the renowned TJ Hill) who have and continue to serve in an official capacity for the returning Catholic State Champion Friars….Greene would make an immediate impact for STA, cruising to the Catholic State finals before losing a hard fought decision to current U.S. Military Academy wrestler, Connor Hanafee. With his freshman campaign seemingly over following the loss (only the CHSAA champion is invited to participate in the Federation State tournament), Greene was the benefactor of some good fortune when an injury prevented the aforementioned Hanafee from competing.  Given new life, the future NU Wildcat wrestler would rebound from an opening round loss to win his next two bouts before bowing out one victory short of placement, an impressive feat when you consider that the weight class he was competing in (112) was stacked with the likes of fellow DI wrestlers Nick Arujau (3x NYS DI Champion; true freshman at American University),  Steven Keith (2x NYS Champion; 2010 NCAA qualifier for Harvard University), and Justis Flamio (3x NYS DI finalist; freshman at the U.S. Naval Academy)…Despite not placing in Rochester, 2008 would end in grand fashion for Greene, as he earned All-American honors in Virginia Beach, finishing fourth @112 pounds at the NHSCA Freshman National tournament.

There would be no sophomore jinx for Greene as 2009 would be the year that he would finally claim the top spot on the podium at the NYS tournament, outscoring his first two opponents by a margin of 21-4 before punching his ticket to the title match with a 0:24 semifinal pin of returning DI State Champion/fellow 2011 blue-chip recruit Bob Dierna (who was a 2010 NHSCA Junior National Champion @130 pounds). The pinnacle would be reached later that evening when Greene built up a sizable early lead and then fought off of his back midway through the championship bout to defeat yet another highly touted member of the rising senior class, Steven Rodrigues (who finished 2nd @125 this past year at the inaugural FloNational Tournament), 11-7…Greene would again enjoy success at the national level, repeating as an NHSCA All-American, finishing 5th @112 (including another win over Rodrigues in the placement round).

With a complete determination and ambition to maintain his position atop the NYS latter, Greene would again walk through the Catholic State tournament in 2010, scoring bonus points in all of his bouts en route to a second consecutive CHSAA State Crown. In his mind, this was a precursor to the larger mission of repeating as a DI state champion. And, for the first two rounds, it appeared that he was well on his way towards doing just this as he unleashed an offensive juggernaut, combining to score 32 points in advancing to the semifinal round. Unlike the previous season where Greene was able to put to bed his semifinal opponent in the time it takes most people to tie their sneakers, 2010 would require more work as the defending State Champ was pushed to the brink by Billy Watterson (freshman at Brown University) before ultimately etching out a 9-7 victory to again earn his spot in the “big dance.”….Pitted against returning state runner-up Damon McQueen (who competed @103 in 2009), Greene was successful in hitting a pair of his signature dumps to claim the early lead. However, demonstrating the heart of a champion common to most wrestlers from the Empire State, McQueen (who was the 2010 NHSCA Senior National bronze medalist) would fight back, rallying in the closing seconds of the match to send the bout to sudden victory with the score all knotted up at seven apiece. Greene would come out aggressive in the 1:00 SV period, getting in deep in his Suffolk County opponent. However, with the momentum still very much in his corner, McQueen was able to fight off the shot. This strong display of defense would pay dividends a few seconds later as it would be McQueen getting his first taste of championship glory, earning the deciding takedown at approximately the half way point of the extra frame. To his credit, rather than sulk, Greene proved that he is as much a champion off the mat as he is on it, putting aside his own feelings of disappointment to not only embrace McQueen and his family, but only to support one of his closest friends, Arujau (Greene was long been a star pupil of Arujau’s father’s 2x World Champion Vougar Oroudjov) in his quest for a third title….A third All-American distinction would put an exclamation mark on the 2010 season as Greene again proved his is among the nation’s best, finishing 7th (down a weight class @112) at the FloNational Tournament.

Projected as either a 125 or 133-pounder at the collegiate level, before deciding upon Northwestern, Greene had narrowed down his college choices to Cornell, The University of Virginia, and UNC-Chapel Hill to go along with the eventual winner of his services.  In expressing the reasons for his selection, Greene cited the strong film program at the US News and World Report’s #12  ranked national university, as well as the opportunity to work out with 2x NCAA DI All-American Brandon Precin (who will remain in Evanston after graduating) as motivating factors.  He also expressed how difficult the decision was and how truly grateful and appreciative he is to all of the coaches and university personnel who actively pursued him.

<p>On behalf of everyone at LHW, we sincerely congratulate Grant, his family, and the St. Anthony’s program on this exciting announcement.  We wish Greene and his teammates the very best of fortune as they look to repeat at team champions in 2011.

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