Student Michael Hooker to compete for Olympic wrestling spot

Mar. 7, 2016

Halle Thornton
hthornto@uccs.edu

Wrestler Michael Hooker has qualified for the Olympic Trials in both freestyle and Greco-Roman style wrestling after winning gold in both events at the 2016 Armed Forces Wrestling Championships.

Held at Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton, Wash., the championships took place Feb. 20-21. Hooker defeated Raymond Bunker, Kurt Spranger and Whit Dawkins for the gold in freestyle, and beat Dawkins again to earn gold in the Greco-Roman competition at the championships.

A member of the ROTC program at UCCS, Hooker is a junior communication major with a minor in military science.

The two styles he won in are the two styles of wrestling in the Olympics.

“Freestyle wrestling is when you can use your legs and touch your opponent’s legs, Greco-Roman style only uses the upper body to wrestle,” Hooker said.

“I prefer Greco-Roman wrestling because it’s the classic style and it’s the oldest style. It values position over flare.”

The U.S. Army squad, which Hooker was a part of, won all six duals to win the Armed Forces Championships for the 15th consecutive time in both styles of wrestling.

USA Wrestling named Hooker their wrestler of the week on Feb. 22.

23-year-old Hooker, who grew up in eastern Tennessee, has been wrestling since he was eight years old. His dad wrestled in high school and college, so he picked up the sport and was coached by his father when Hooker was in middle school.

Hooker won three high school state championships and holds the all-time wins record for the state of Tennessee.

After wrestling at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for a year, he decided to transfer to UCCS, and has been here for a year and a half. Hooker has been training at Fort Carson under the World Class Athlete Program.

Although Hooker does have access to the Olympic Training Center facilities, he chooses to practice at Fort Carson.

“It’s more convenient for me, and I have my own coaches and facility there,” he said.

Hooker explained his passion for wrestling.

“I’ve always had a knack for it. It’s also like life, it has its ups and downs, but you can learn to work through those.”

The Olympic Trials are April 6-10 in Iowa City, Iowa.