A sea of green descended on New York City on Thursday as St. Patrick’s Day revelers were out in full force as early as 10 a.m. But the green was not without swaths of Oklahoma State orange, the powder blue of the University of North Carolina and, of course, Penn State blue and white.
But college wrestling fans also know how to party. Cornell fans swapped their classic red and white for green and red T-shirts. A group of Ohio State fans paired their red and gray zip-ups with green T-shirts and Mardi Gras beads.
More than 35,000 fans attended the first day of the NCAA Wrestling Championship on Thursday at Madison Square Garden. And among those 35,569 fans was Monty Christiansen.
Christiansen, of State College, and his wife have been to every college wrestling championship for the past 47 years.
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Originally from Iowa, Christiansen moved to the State College area for a job at Penn State, where he taught for 35 years until his retirement in 2001.
“We loved Penn State sports so much, we decided we weren’t going anywhere,” he said.
Christiansen said his passion for Penn State wrestling is derived from two things: his love of the sport and involvement in the booster club.
“It’s an individual sport,” he said. “But it’s not all about strength. It’s about attitude, technique and desire, but you also have to win for your team.”
With nearly five decades of national championship memories, Christiansen said one memory that sticks out above the rest is watching current Penn State coach Cael Sanderson win each of his four national titles while wrestling for Iowa State.
“We’re fans of all wrestling, not just Penn State,” he said.
And this year, he’s looking forward to new memories.
“I’m hoping we can get five national titles,” he said. “Fingers crossed.”
Lauren Muthler is the assistant news editor at the CDT.