WVU’s Noah Adams’ Improvement Arc Cut Short
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Noah Adams is young, healthy, athletic, energetic and the Big 12 197-pound wrestling champion for West Virginia University.
In the world as it exists in the moment, you would say he has everything.
But he doesn’t.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken from him the thing he covets most in his athletic career — a chance to wrestle for an NCAA championship.
Adams had just finished winning the conference championship earlier this month and was ready to prepare to reach out trying to fulfill a dream he’s had since he was a three-time state champion out of Coal City in Raleigh County. That’s when the NCAA canceled all of its spring championships from the lucrative March Madness to the national wrestling championships upon which WVU has placed its stamp through the work of three-time champion Greg Jones, Scott Collins and Dean Morrison.
“It is a disappointment,” Adams admitted during a phone call last week. “I was really excited to get out there. I was feeling good. I thought I could have gotten to the top in that, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it.”
It was the cherry to go atop the hot fudge sundae that was this season.
Adams had redshirted his freshman season, then went 19-15 in his first year of competition, which was a disappointing year for him and drove him to prove himself this season.
Prove himself he did, going 32-0. The 32 wins were the most ever by a Mountaineers sophomore and his unbeaten season marked the first by WVU wrestler since Greg Jones did it in back-to-back seasons in 2004 and 2005.
So what changed from one season to the next?
“I did things this year that last year I was super close to doing but didn’t quite get to. I worked hard in the off-season, perfected a couple of things,” he said.
His off-season approach was driven.
“I gave it my all, especially in the off-season. I focused on my conditioning. I tried to push myself and everyone else in the room. My conditioning was the biggest thing,” he said.
The result was a memorable year.
“It was big for me,” he said. “I kind of proved to not only everyone else in the weight class but to myself that I was a kid who belonged at the top of that weight. I proved I could handle the best guys at that weight.
“It’s also big for the public, too, to show them that West Virginia wrestling is moving in the right direction and with our coaches good things are going to happen.”
The NCAAs, though, could have turned it from a memorable year to a magical year.
“Going to the NCAAs was a special deal. Only 330 wrestlers go every season, you have 33 wrestlers in each class. It’s the best of the best and I was really excited for it,” he said.
Adams grew up in Coal City as an athlete. It’s a town much like Fairmont, a mining town just outside Beckley with strong high school sports. His three state titles led recruiters his way, but he opted to stay at home.
“The biggest thing in my decision making was that I had been going up to WVU a lot for my training during the off-season so I was kind of used to the environment,” he said. “I just realized, no matter what I do I wanted to represent my home state.
“I wanted to put on the uniform for the people who helped me get to where I was.”
That decision was easier than one he made earlier … wrestling or football.
You could kind of compare it to Fairmont. Small city, the high school big on sports. You grew up with the kids you were going to play sports with your whole life.
“I was actually a big football player,” he insisted. “In fact, that’s how I got introduced to wrestling. My football coaches were also the wrestling coaches and they told my Dad that I should try it. If I didn’t like it, I at least would have tried. For some reason, I really liked it.”
Better than football?
“I don’t know if I like it better than football. That may sound crazy. It was hard to choose between the two, but I do like how competitive a sport it is.,” he said.
This even has a touch of Fairmont in it, for one of WVU’s top football recruits in Fairmont Senior’s Zach Frazier, one of the all-time top wrestlers in the state but also a top football prospect.
“I’ve talked to Zach. He’s a real good kid. I like his dad a lot, too,” Adams said. “He’s one of those heavyweights you don’t see too often, a really athletic kid, really smart. I’m happy for him either way. I’m just glad to see another West Virginia kid out there making a name for himself.”
The success in winning the Big 12 title gave him a great high, but when the NCAAs were canceled it let the air out of part of success, yet it adds to his incentive coming into next season.
“It gives you something special to shoot for next year,” he said.