It has been many, many years since the Case Western Reserve University wrestling team has won a University Athletic Association (UAA) match. That streak continued last weekend.
The team traveled to the University of Chicago on Saturday, Feb. 10 to test their wills against the hosts and New York University at the UAA Championships. They dropped both contests, losing to NYU 31-15 and to Chicago 40-3.
“We’ve wrestled tougher teams closer, so these two team weren’t the best teams we’ve seen all season,” said Head Coach Danny Song. “It’s almost as if there’s a stigma where we’re not supposed to win.”
Though he doesn’t know if that stigma is actually there, Song did say that the team wrestled hard throughout the two matches but the results just didn’t come to fruition.
The Spartans finish their dual season with a record of 5-5ーone short of the team’s goal of six dual match wins.
“I want to win everything, but there’s an evolution of success,” said Song, who is in his third year as head coach. “You have to crawl before you can walk, walk before you can run… When I came in here, I thought we were ready to crawl, but we weren’t. Now we’re ready to crawl.”
The program is now starting to develop and take off from a team aspect in the direction that he wants to see after a few tough early years.
One wrestler who has exemplified this improved direction is second-year wrestler Andrew Hoover (141 lbs). He has had an exceptional year, posting a personal record of 27-12 with eight pins and two technical falls. Perhaps this record becomes more noticeable when compared to his first year’s record of 10-21, a drastic turn around from year one to year two. Additionally, Hoover won the UAAs in the 141 pound weight class and was the only Spartan to win a match against Chicago.
“[Andrew Hoover] has been outstanding,” raved Song. “He’s the guy we’re pointing to, he’s the example in the room. It’s actually amazing [because] there’s nothing special about him: he’s not ultra-talented, he’s not incredibly strong, he’s not incredibly athletic, but yet he’s winning, and he’s winning a lot of matches for us.”
How is he doing it? Song had an answer for that too: “Hard work. He’s confident, and he’s confident because of his preparation. He believes in his training, he believes in strengths.”
Hoover is one of a few Spartan grapplers who have a chance to advance through NCAA Regionals, the next competition for the team. The top three wrestlers in each weight class advance to the NCAA National Tournament, where there will be 18 total competitors.
The team will have a week off before Regionals on Feb. 24 and 25.