ALBANY – Jordan Brown and Joey McGinty are two of the unlikeliest state tourney roommates, age-wise, on the Section 9 wrestling team.
Brown, a Monroe-Woodbury 14-year-old freshman, is making his state championship debut after winning the Section 9 title at 99 pounds.
McGinty is a senior 160-pounder for the Crusaders, and has his eyes on his first state title following a fourth-place finish last year.
Wrestling has brought the teammates closer. They have shared many conversations about improving in a sport that Brown has picked up fast in only his second season.
On Friday, Brown and McGinty continued an impressive streak for the school. Both advanced to the state semifinals, guaranteeing the Crusaders at least two state medalists for the eighth consecutive year.
“He’s fun to hang out, with even though he’s a freshman,” McGinty said. “He knows what he’s talking about with wrestling. We talked about it a lot.”
Coach John Gartiser paired the two together so that McGinty would monitor what Brown was eating. That plan hasn’t gone so well.
“I watch what he’s eating but he doesn’t listen to me any way,” McGinty laughed. “It doesn’t matter what I say.”
While McGinty’s run to the semifinals was expected as the No. 2 seed, Brown’s path was uncertain. How would Brown response to the pressure of a close match? He pulled out a 5-3 win over Monsignor Farrell’s Michael Adams in a rematch of Brown’s 4-2 victory at the Eastern States Classic. Brown overcame stoppages from a bloody nose, a bloody lip and then a bloody nose again and turned away multiple chances by Adams to tie the match in the final period.
“(In the final moments), I was thinking about all of the hard work I had done,” Brown said. “I need to keep focused and just what I do best and wrestle.
“I never thought that I would be doing this right now. I never thought I would wrestle. But, it’s happened.”
Brown switched from basketball to wrestling in the eighth grade. His favorite athlete used to be Blazers guard Damian Lillard. Now, it’s Penn State wrestler and NCAA champion Mark Hall.
“He’s made a huge jump,” said Gartiser of Brown. “He can pick anything up that you show him and he's a super athlete. He's very mature for his age. A lot of kids get scared when a match is tight, he doesn't. His grit helps him win tight matches.”