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Wrestling With COVID-19: An Unfortunate Decision Due to an Invisible Opponent

What are student athletes doing during this pandemic?

For those participating in spring sports, it means their season ended nearly half way. For others, it means their season may not begin.

For Christian Gramuglia, it is different.

Gramuglia is a junior at SUNY Oswego on the wrestling team. For him, 2020 was his year of triumph. He played his best season yet, but it came to an unexpected end, with no chance for a victory.

Gramuglia made it to the National tournament with one other team member, freshman, Charlie Grygas. The tournament was held in Iowa, so Gramuglia and Grygas flew out to attend.

Right before the tournament began, it was cancelled, due to COVID-19. 

“It was crazy to me,” said Gramuglia. “We were in the hotel getting ready, and our coach came in and told us it was cancelled…I honestly was shocked by this, we all were.”

Gramuglia said it has been his lifelong dream to make it to Nationals, so getting there and having the event cancelled before it began was tough.

 “The whole thing was surreal, having it end before it began… it was disappointing because it would have been cool to wrestle in a stadium atmosphere like that,” said Gramuglia.

Although they understood the reason for the cancellation, it was difficult for Gramuglia and Grygas and their families to fly out to Iowa, only for the match not to take place.

The cancellation was also unexpected because there were practices held before the tournament. 

“Everyone had already practiced on the mat, so if they were going to get anything that probably would  have been when they did…and that very night they just canceled the entire tournament,” said Gramuglia.

Though it was a different situation then they expected, Gramuglia said it hit him how grave the pandemic really was once the cancelation was announced. 

“At that point I understood that everything needed to be cancelled for the safety of the athletes and everyone attending. That’s when I realized how serious it all was,” said Gramuglia.

Gramuglia said seeing professional athletes and student athletes going through the same thing and keeping a positive mindset during this time is inspiring to him.

“Seeing athletes encouraging others to stay positive during the pandemic and doing their workouts at home has helped me stay positive, and to know I’m not the only one struggling,” said Gramuglia.

Although Gramuglia said he wished rather than cancelling the tournament, it was held at a later date, he still feels motivated to do even better next year.

He knows that if he made it once, he can make it again, and plans to make his senior year his best year.

During this time, Gramuglia continues to workout at home and keep a positive mindset, to get better for next season. He is planning to join a club wrestling team called Journey back at his home in Burnt Hills, New York.

“I have one more chance to make this happen,” said Gramuglia. “My plan is to end my senior year with a bang and just do the best I can because I really want to get back there [nationals]…and do it right.”

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