Scheels Athlete of the Week: West High's Hoeft Battles Through Injury to Earn First State Medal

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Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

DES MOINES – Take a quick look at the 182-pound bracket at the Class 3A state wrestling and it appears Will Hoeft had a disappointing weekend at Wells Fargo Arena.

The West High junior lost a quarterfinal in sudden victory then took medical forfeits in his final two matches on his way to a sixth-place finish.

Scores and places don’t tell half of the state tournament story for Hoeft who produced one on the more amazing performances on the weekend on his way to his first career medal.

Hoeft tore the ACL in his right knee at the Mississippi Valley Conference meet on January 26.

Exactly three weeks later he climbed onto the podium at Wells Fargo Arena to accept a state medal.

“I love state wrestling,” Hoeft said. “I wouldn't miss this for the world.”

“I didn’t really know what to expect, I just wanted to let it fly more than anything. Really, I just wanted to have fun rather than focusing on what I could do.”

Hoeft feared the worst as soon as the injury happened at the MVC Super Meet.
By the time Hoeft met with a doctor that confirmed the diagnosis of a torn ACL he had already made up his mind that the injury wouldn’t end his junior season.

“Sitting on the table about five seconds after doctor told me I knew I was going to wrestle,” Hoeft said. “We got a brace, we let the swelling go down and I let it fly.”

Let it fly he did.

The closest Hoeft got to a wrestling mat in the 13 days following the injury was riding the stationary bike in the West High wrestling room.

Yet two weeks to the day after his injury he went 3-0 with a pair of wins at the 3A, District 7 meet to secure his second consecutive trip to the state meet.

“We had communication with the trainers and his parents and he decided this was the best move for him,” West High coach Nate Moore said. I wouldn’t say it surprised me, it’s been done before and with how tough he is it’s not a surprise.”

Hoeft continued his success at state.

Despite operating with a heavy brace on his knee, the seventh-ranked 182-pounder in 3A won his state opener for the first time with a 12-4 major decision over Ryan Cook of Cedar Rapids Xavier.

“The toughest thing was just figuring out what could do and what couldn’t I do,” Hoeft said. “I had to change up my style a little bit but not too much.”

Hoeft just missed a trip to the state semifinals falling to fourth-ranked Nic Leo of Ankeny Centennial 7-5 in sudden victory in the quarterfinals.

He responded with back-to-back consolation wins including a pin to reach the consolation semifinals before electing to forfeit the final two matches due to his injury.

“He’s tough, je’s a really tough kid,” Moore said. “He’s a focused, dedicated kid and he’s had a real good attitude throughout this whole process since MVCs.”

Hoeft finished the season 37-9, winning six of the seven matches he wrestled after tearing his ACL.

He’ll have surgery on Thursday to repair the torn ligament in his knee with the hopes of returning next season for a shot at a state title.

“That’s the goal is to keep getting better,” Hoeft said. “Every time I step on the mat I want to learn something new and sharpen something up.”

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