Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
SOLON – Even before a second consecutive early exit from the state wrestling meet ended his junior season Mike Hoyle knew it was time for a change.
After winning one total match in back-to-back trips to the state meet at 170 and 182 pounds Hoyle saw the writing on the wall for his senior season.
“After wrestling at 182 I realized I needed to go up a few more weights,” Hoyle said. “I couldn’t keep up with the smaller guys anymore.”
Bumping up a weight class was nothing new to Hoyle who like many prep wrestlers ascended up the lineup each of his first three seasons.
This time the move was slightly more strategic.
Hoyle decided to give football a try for the first time in the fall so as soon as the state wrestling meet ended last February he switched to football mode.
That meant lots of time in the weight room and less time watching the scale.
“I lifted more than I ever have and ate more than I ever have,” Hoyle said. “I didn’t have to watch my weight, I gave Fargo (wrestling national championships) a shot and won a match out there but other than that I kind of had the mindset of a football player.”
The work paid off for Hoyle who packed nearly 60 pounds onto his 6-foot frame in the nearly eight months from the end of wrestling to his final prep football game.
A 240-pound defensive tackle, Hoyle was a stalwart on the Spartan defense last fall with 13 tackles including four for loss and a sack.
This winter a bigger Hoyle has been at his best on the wrestling mat.
“I definitely think that football helped him in wrestling,” Solon coach Blake Williams said. “You hear about how wrestling helps for football so much and you see guys like (Solon senior) Adam Bock and that’s a prime example of that but it goes both ways. I think those two sports go so much hand in hand together that I don’t think a lot of people realize there are so many similarities to them.”
Hoyle brings a 36-1 record into the WAMAC Conference meet on Saturday at Benton Community where he will go for his second consecutive conference crown.
Even with his added size Hoyle still wrestles like a 182 pounder. His combination of strength and athleticism has helped him rise to third in the Class 2A rankings at 220 pounds.
“I think his style is great for 220 pounders,” Williams said. “You get a wide variety of bodies at 220 and he’s a lot quicker than most and strength wise he is right up there, he’s got heavy hands and he works them.”
Hoyle won a combined 85 matches during his sophomore and junior seasons but went just 1-4 in two trips to the state meet.
Last year’s 1-2 performance at state was especially tough to stomach for Hoyle who brought a 46-7 record into the state meet but lost back to back decisions 11-7 and 8-5 to end the season.
“Last year really hurt,” Hoyle said. “It took a while to actually pick up motivation again, I was more broken than anything. I went in there a little too confident and got humbled but I’m back at it again this year.”
Hoyle recharged his batteries through football and has been nothing short of dominant during his final season.
He has 19 pins and five tech. falls among his 36 victories with his lone loss coming to 1A defending runner-up and top-ranked Garet Sims of Iowa Valley.
After back-to-back disappointing state meet performances Hoyle has his sights set high this season.
That march toward a title continues on Saturday at the WAMAC Meet where Hoyle hopes to help Solon to another top-two conference finish.
The senior 220-pounder is the only wrestler on the Solon roster with a conference title to his credit.
“I want to win a state championship, I’ve have had two disappointing performances at the state tournament but I know now that can’t overlook anyone,” Hoyle said. “I’m just taking it one day at a time.”