Moving from Manhattan to Edgemont prior to his junior year in 2019 turned out to be a victory for Vikram Ostrander. He had many wins on the mat for the Edgemont wrestling team and his growth and potential has led to his commitment this week to Division I University of Virginia.
Using a martial arts background, particularly Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Ostrander began wrestling at Horace Mann as a freshman. He switched full time to wrestling and became a force in the sport for Edgemont last winter, placing second in Section 1 at 152 pounds.
This year, thanks to offseason training and a growth spurt, Ostrander is weighing in at around 180 pounds, but still moves like a middleweight. In addition, since he’s still relatively new to the sport he has great potential to make gains this year as a senior for Edgemont and going forward in college.
“Vikram has a number of things going for him,” coach Pete Jacobson said. “He didn’t really start wrestling until ninth grade, so when coaches hear that they see a tremendous upside potential. There’s a lot more room to grow a kid in college if a coach sees what a wrestler is doing and finds out he only started in ninth grade as opposed to the kid who has been wrestling since he was 4 years old.
“Another thing that Vikram has going for him is kind of similar to Nicky Meglino in that he got bigger quickly, jumped a bunch of weight classes. He didn’t grow up as a heavier weight, so he wrestles like a middleweight and that’s something that’s very attractive to college coaches seeing guys at the heavier end of the weight spectrum who move really well with the style of more of a middleweight.”
In addition, his academics are strong and even before he talked to UVA coach Steve Garland he had applied to the school with hopes of majoring in computer science. As he learned more about Ostrander and saw his tapes, Garland supported his application.
Ostrander will be Edgemont’s fourth DI wrestler in recent years: Danny Kornberg 2012 (Pittsburgh), Trey Aslanian 2013 (Princeton), Cliffton Wang 2017 (Harvard) and Nicky Meglino 2019 (Pittsburgh). Meglino is a redshirt freshman this year and Ostrander will join him competing in the ACC next winter, possibly at the same 184-pound weight class.
“As a coach nothing makes me happier than helping our guys reach their goals and watching them develop, watching them buy into a mindset and a way of doing things that is going to set them up for success,” Jacobson said. “It’s validating in a sense that Vikram is another example to point to the younger kids on the team and say, ‘This is where he was and this is what he did and he led it to get to this point. If he was here and you’re here, there’s no reason you can’t get there.’”
Ostrander is mature, focused and coachable. “He’s willing to try things and do things that might not be in his wheelhouse, knowing they might help him get where he needs to be,” Jacobson said. “Everyone talks about having goals, but few people actually understand what it takes to make those goals happen and then even fewer are willing to consistently follow through on what it takes to make those goals happen.”
Last winter, Jacobson didn’t know how Ostrander would fit into the Edgemont system, but found out right away the newcomer would make a seamless transition and become one of the team’s more respected leaders.
“It wasn’t just a matter of people respecting him because he works hard and has success on the mat,” Jacobson said. “People respect and like him because he works hard, has success on the mat and is willing to help other people and treats other people really well. He’s one of the senior leaders on our team in only his second year and it has less to do with his accomplishments and more to do with his character.”
Jacobson believes Ostrander will fit in perfectly at Virginia the same way he did at Edgemont.
“Their coach and their program is a very similar philosophy to our program in that he places a heavy emphasis on helping guys be successful outside of wrestling and after wrestling,” Jacobson said. “Obviously there’s a whole other competitive level and you have to win at the Division I level, but he does a very good job of emphasizing character development and building leadership. It’s something he values. We have a little bit of a history, so he knows that’s something that is a common thread between our programs.”
Luca Errico of Armonk, who was a champion for The Brunswick School, is a freshman at UVA and wrestled with Ostrander at GPS, so he gave him some insight to help him make his decision.
“I set my sights on Division I wrestling junior year and I’ve been dead set on that ever since,” Ostrander said. “I was only planning on walking on until I started talking with Coach Garland and he told me he really liked my wrestling and he wanted me at UVA.”
Wrestling on top has always been a strength for Ostrander and he’s built on that skill. His ability to move well, while also using his size when he needs to, leads him to better opportunities for leg attacks, another major improvement to his repertoire.
“I think working with Coach Pete at Edgemont has greatly improved my wrestling,” Ostrander said. “He’s given me the guidance and resources I needed to take my wrestling to a whole new level and prepare to wrestle in college. I wanted to get better for a long time, but Coach Pete has really facilitated that for me and allowed me to thrive once I came to Edgemont.”
Ostrander will not have a full sectional tournament or states to put his name in the record books at Edgemont, though even if his name won’t appear on the All-State banner, Jacobson believes Ostrander is at the point where he could be placing at states. “He’s at that level,” Jacobson said. “Obviously you have to perform, but his abilities are at that level.”
The COVID-19 pandemic hit soon after the end of the season last winter and Ostrander had to spend the spring and summer running outdoors and lifting weights, in addition to some virtual and socially distanced outdoor workouts with GPS. This winter they were able to go back indoors to practice with low to minimal contact, in addition to practices with Edgemont.
Since it won’t be a normal season, Ostrander is looking at this upcoming season, which will begin Feb. 1, through a different lens.
“I don’t think it’s about going competitive through the high school season,” Ostrander said. “I think it’s more enjoying time with the team and having fun through the end of my senior year and helping out the rest of the team. That’s why I’m so keen on being able to do it.”