SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – People showed their support Thursday night for a wrestler and Springfield native, selected for the chance to represent Puerto Rico in the 2024 Olympics.

After a long search, the Puerto Rican Olympic Committee selected Springfield native Jon Viruet to have the chance of a lifetime, representing Puerto Rico in their Olympic wrestling team after a member of the team retired. He is among four wrestlers chosen by the National Puerto Rican Olympic Committee to be invited to the Olympic team qualifier.

“The opportunity to represent my island of Puerto Rico and my community in Springfield during the Puerto Rican Olympic team qualifier is a dream come true. I have worked hard to elevate my passion for wrestling in others and hope to inspire a new generation to love the sport,” said Viruet.

Jon Viruet began his wrestling career at the age of 12 and competed while attending Springfield Central High School. Viruet is a 4x WMASS Champ, 3X state and all-state champ, 2X New England Champ, National Champ, 2X Greco All-American and 2X Folk style All-American, all before heading to college.

Viruet was recruited to Brown University where he was a 2X NCAA Div 1 qualifier, 3X EIWA Conference Placer and 2X all Ivy League team member. Now, Viruet is back in Springfield and helped open Grit and Gratitude Wrestling club in Springfield’s North End where he trains and mentors young athletes.

Viruet will be coached by Rodney Smith, a Springfield resident who won the bronze medal in the 1992 Olympics in Greco Roman wrestling, and Jose Escribano, a former Massachusetts Greco Roman national team coach.

“I’ve been fortunate to coach Jon throughout the years and I have no doubt he can compete at the international level,” said Escribano.

And to help him on his journey, Dewey’s Jazz Lounge in Springfield put on a salsa fundraiser on Thursday. Which is fitting, as Viruet has given back to local athletes, while working towards his dreams. He started Grit and Gratitude Wrestling Club in the North End to mentor young wrestlers.

“Every wrestlers dream to even have a chance to represent their country, my community, even their hometown like Springfield, Viruet said. “Setting the example kind of paving the way and making sure their is way path to walk on for those that are to follow.”

“He becomes a role model for the Latino community to kind of look at him as inspiration and kind of follow their dreams,” adds Esribano.

Viruet will compete for the position against three other wrestlers in Puerto Rico’s invitation-only match on September 9.

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