Senior Spotlight Will Hoeft, Iowa City West

Do you have any family who wrestled before you? How did they do?
My dad only wrestled for one year of high school, and was a pretty average wrestler at Monroe High School.

Did you catch on to wrestling quickly or was it a gradual process?
Improving as a wrestler was one of the slowest processes in my life. I tried it out for a couple of years in the 2nd and 3rd grades, but quit for a while. Then I started up again in 5th grade, and didn´t really start getting a lot better until I joined Eastern Iowa Wrestling Club in 7th grade.
Did you wrestle in a club growing up, and if you did, how would you describe your experience with the club?
I wrestled at the Trojan Wrestling Club in 5th and 6th grade, and it was a great place to start for me. I was a pretty uncertain kid back then, and the club was a really welcoming environment. I really developed a love for the sport in that club, and then decided I wanted to start pushing myself a little bit more, so I switched to Eastern Iowa and started training more frequently. It was pretty rough at first, I was a heavy 7th grader (about 140) so I was getting smacked around by Trey Brisker and other hammers at the club. Eventually, I was able to develop into a much better wrestler because of it.

What are a couple memorable moments from youth/JH wrestling?
Winning state my 8th grade year was the most significant moment in my wrestling career prior to high school. I remember winning in the finals and hugging all of my coaches from both clubs and really reflecting on how much of an impact they had on my life.

Who were your wrestling heroes growing up?
Tony Ramos was my favorite wrestler. The stare down was iconic.

How did you finish at state tournaments as a youth?
I never placed at one until my 8th grade year, when I placed 1st.

How did you finish at the state tournaments you wrestled in at the high school level?
I got beat in the blood round my sophomore year and 6th my junior year.

You had hurt your knee at the end of the year. What decisions did you have to make and how did that affect preparation for the state tournament?
It was actually a pretty simple decision. Coach Pudil told me I could still wrestle on it if I wanted to finish the season, and I wanted to finish the season. We bought a leg brace and I didn´t wrestle much for a couple of weeks leading up to districts to do physical therapy. A few days for the state tournament I started lightly drilling, not even really drilling, just to see which moves I could do and which were too painful to do.

What factors were involved in this decisions?
The only factor involved was football. If I had the surgery after the season, there was a chance that I would miss the whole football season.

How have you recovered from that? What was the therapy for the injury?
I´ve recovered pretty well from it, feeling normal for the most part. Therapy was multiple times per week for a long time. First, I was trying to regain mobility and range while also slowly regaining some muscle. Next, I had to focus on regaining most of my muscle back and running, then I transitioned into some lateral movement and cutting.

Was there ever a point in your career where you noticed yourself jumping levels and making improvements?
Improvements started happening about three months after joining Eastern Iowa.

Who were some of your toughest competitors in HS?
DJ Shannon and Joel Shapiro. Animals.

Who did you have the best battles with?
My toughest matches, though, were probably with Cade Parker from Kennedy, Justin Brindley from SEP, and Jackson White from Liberty (MO). I´ve wrestled all three multiple times and they were very close matches.

What is your favorite style of wrestling, Folkstyle, Freestyle or Greco-Roman?
Folkstyle.
What are your wrestling goals for the upcoming high school season?
State Champ.

How would you describe your wrestling style? Who would you compare yourself to?
I would describe it as calculated. I like to pick my shots and have a really effective game plan to beat people. I think of myself as a Kendall Cross kind of guy, just not nearly as good.

Do you have any regrets involving wrestling that you want to make up as a senior?
Not really. I just want to perform to the best of my ability and enjoy every second of it.

What other sports do you play and how have you done at them?
I play football, and I played a good amount of fullback and linebacker on varsity as a junior.

What are some of your hobbies besides wrestling? And what is a favorite memory?
I´m big into writing, video games, and fishing when I´m catching them. A favorite memory of mine is spending time fishing and relaxing with my two best friends, Jackson and Collin.

What is some of the best advice you ever received, and who gave you that advice?
Coach Reiland gave a speech before practice once that I´ll never forget. He came into the room and asked the team if we thought he could lose twenty pounds before the state tournament. We responded yes. Then, he asked if we thought he could lose twenty pounds before the state tournament if he ate a whole tub of ice cream every day. We hesitated. Guy Snow finally said, ¨Yeah, but you´re making it a lot tougher on yourself.¨ Reiland responded, saying, ¨You guys had better get rid of your ice cream before the state tournament if you want to achieve your goals.¨ It was a simple, yet perfect speech.

Do you have any advice for up and coming wrestlers?
Take at least some time to do offseason wrestling. That´s when you make a lot of gains.

Who were some of the most influential coaches you worked with?
Matt Lepic, for sure is one of the top ones. I´ve never had someone relentlessly push me to be the best version of myself. Also, Eastern Iowa coach Jim Kelly. He really went out of his way to make sure I was getting support, and made me focus on improving rather than wins and losses.

What were some of your favorite tournaments?
The state tournament. It´s crazy to wrestle with actual fans in the crowd.

What do you think of Western Dubuque and Liberty High School joining the Mississippi Valley Conference?
The more the merrier!

What are your college plans? Is wrestling in your future, whether it be competing or coaching?
I´m definitely planning on wrestling in college. I´ve narrowed it down to a few colleges, but I haven´t quite decided yet.

West obviously has a rich wrestling tradition, what is the future outlook for Iowa City West wrestling?
I´m really excited about the future of West High Wrestling. We´ve got a great kids club, amazing coaches, and a bunch of returning starters. We´re a young team with a lot of potential. I think we´re returning five state medalists. The future is looking good.