When junior wrestler Jordan Wallace stepped on the mat for the first time as a Bomber at the Ithaca College Invitational on Nov. 2 in Glazer Arena, he had not competed in a wrestling match since 2018. However, Wallace did not miss a beat, and he has defeated every opponent he has faced so far this season.
When he was being recruited out of high school, Wallace decided to attend the University of Maryland to wrestle for the Terrapins, but he tore his meniscus during his freshman season. He lost his athletic scholarship after the injury, and he said that he was unable to afford tuition without it.
“It was a really tough moment,” Wallace said. “When I got accepted, I was so happy. Who wouldn’t be? My heart dropped when I realized I couldn’t go. It was like getting the best gift ever and getting it taken away immediately.”
After leaving Maryland, Wallace attended Westchester Community College in Valhalla, New York, where he received his associate degree in business administration.
While Wallace was rehabbing, he said that he wanted to stay involved with wrestling, so he helped out when he could at a youth wrestling camp and at his high school.
“I started coaching wrestling, … and realized how much I missed it,” Wallace said. “That’s when I knew, ‘I can still go out on the mat and compete,’ and that really gave me a new spark.”
Wallace said he wanted to transfer to a school with strong wrestling and sports media programs. He was studying business administration at the University of Maryland, but he said he knew he wanted to switch into communications. He said that he has always been interested in sports communications and that Ithaca College’s sports media program was exactly what he was looking for. Wallace said he hopes to work in sports broadcasting when he graduates. He has a background in theater, so he said his goal is to work in front of the camera.
Head coach Marty Nichols said he first saw Wallace at a clinic when he was in high school. He said he recruited Wallace before he chose to go to Maryland. When things did not work out at the University of Maryland, Nichols said that he was more than happy to welcome Wallace to the Bomber community.
When Wallace arrived at Ithaca College in August, he said that he adapted to the campus quickly.
“I like how it is a smaller school,” Wallace said. “Being at Maryland, it was every man for himself, where at Ithaca, they really try to make sure you are in the best environment for your success.”
Wallace said that while rehabbing it was incredibly tough for him to stay in shape. He said his brother is a personal trainer and was able to help him back to where he needed to be physically.
“I could work on whatever I needed to, and it was very personalized,” Wallace said. “He knows my body type, and he knew the injury, so he was able to adjust workouts for that.”
Wallace is now fully healed and has demonstrated his prowess on the mat in the 174-pound category since the South Hill squad’s season kicked off. He is currently 8–0 this season across three competitions. Wallace said the team aspect of the Bombers has a much more comfortable feel than the University of Maryland did.
“I don’t think I really flourished and enjoyed the sport as much as I do until I got to Ithaca with my squad and with coach Nichols,” Wallace said. “It’s also nice knowing everyone is on the same grind and the same goal in mind.”
Nichols said he has high expectations for Wallace this season and believes he can win a national title.
“We just want to work with him on improving every day,” Nichols said. “The national title is his goal, and, if he keeps working, it’s within his grasp.”
Wallace’s teammate and practice partner, sophomore Eze Chukwuezi, said he expects Wallace to win a national title as well. Chukwuezi also said Wallace brings a calming factor to the team.
“Wrestling him in practice increases my awareness and helps me with my technique,” he said. “He helps me become a better wrestler every day. When I see him warming up for a match, it makes me feel more confident and relaxed knowing that he is not stressing about his match.”
Wallace said he puts a lot of focus on doing an extra workout or two a day so he is as prepared as he can be for his upcoming opponents.
“It is all about those extra workouts that is going to take me to the next level,” Wallace said. “Everyone is practicing with their team from four to six o’clock, but not everybody is in the gym on their own time. It is all about getting 1% better every day. When I go to practice, I like to focus on getting better at wrestling. My workouts are specifically for me to make weight and better my personal self.”
Nichols said he can see Wallace developing into a leader on this team in the near future.
“Guys are starting to respect him,” Nichols said. “If you show hard work like Jordan does, people are going to respect you and listen to you for sure. He is a very mature guy and a good attribute for the team.”