Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Head Coach Joe Dubuque

TigerBlog isn't sure exactly how tall Joe Dubuque is. He's guessing it's around 5-2 or so.

Knowing that, if Joe Dubuque told TigerBlog he could dunk a basketball, TB wouldn't even think twice. He wouldn't even have to see him prove it. 

That's the kind of faith that TB has in Dubuque.

He might be small in terms of height, but he has one of the biggest personalities TigerBlog has ever seen. There's a ton of positive energy in that body. 

If that sounds familiar, that's how TB described former Princeton wrestling coach Chris Ayres when he left last week to become the head coach at Stanford. 

The announcement came yesterday afternoon that Dubuque would be replacing Ayres as the Tiger head coach. You can read it HERE.

Sean Gray, another key in the resurgence of Tiger wrestling during the Ayres years, will remain with the program as associate head coach, and that is great news for Princeton fans as well. Gray, too, is one of those positive, energetic life-forces in the wrestling room on E level.

Dubuque was a two-time NCAA individual champion at Indiana, winning the 125-pound title in 2005 and 2006. TigerBlog went back to Dubuque's bio on the Indiana webpage to see if it listed his height, which it did not.

What did he see there? A menacing photo of Joe Dubuque. 

Menacing? That's not a word that TB would usually equate with Dubuque. Yet there he was, with that menacing look on his face.

It's a look that TB has never seen. There are others that TB has seen a lot.

There's the jovial look, the one that seems to be Dubuque's default setting. It's the one that you see when Dubuque wanders next door, from the wrestling room into the office suite on E Level that houses Communications, Multimedia and IT. 

Then there's the intense look. That's the one that shows in every action shot of Dubuque as he coaches. He is dressed in a jacket, sometimes a tie, and always that intense look. 

Each of these pictures shows his passion for wrestling in a crystal clear way. For that matter, they also make you want to get out there and wrestle for him yourself.

Princeton Wrestling has come a long way, reaching a pinnacle with a 2020 Ivy League championship that ended Cornell's 18-year run, a 2022 season that featured two NCAA runners-up (Quincy Monday, Patrick Glory) and then last winter, when Glory won the same weight class at the NCAA championships that Dubuque had won as a Hoosier.

Here's what Glory had to say about Dubuque's hiring:

Without him I personally wouldn’t have been able to achieve my goals, and I know the same can be said about the goals of the program.

That's saying a lot. 

Dubuque is a huge part of New Jersey wrestling history. He was a two-time state champion at Glen Ridge High School, and being a two-time New Jersey state high school champion might be as difficult to achieve as being a two-time NCAA champion.

Now he's taking over as the head man at Princeton.

He's very much a huge part of the culture of the Department of Athletics already. The annual holiday party doesn't really start until Dubuque starts dancing.

TigerBlog went back to Craig Sachson, who was the OAC wrestling contact who had a front-row seat as the program was rebuilt. Not too many people know Dubuque the way Sachson does. 

Here's what he had to say:

Joe was born to be the Princeton head wrestling coach. His energy and passion for the sport and for this community are endless. He was one of the greatest wrestlers New Jersey every produced, and it’s fitting that he’ll now be recruiting the nation’s best wrestlers into his own backyard. He is a teacher, a motivator, a thinker and a leader. He and Sean will make a great team, and they’ll continue raising the standard at Princeton.

Does it sound familiar? 

If you know Joe Dubuque, you agree with what TB and Sachson had to say. If you don't, you'd instantly like him and root for him. 

The same is true of Sean Gray. 

With them in charge, Princeton Wrestling is in a great place.

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