By RICKY LINDSAY, Editor-in-Chief
There was no other option for Marina Goocher. She had to get first place.
That was the mindset of the University of Michigan-Dearborn freshman as she competed in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association national championships March 11-12.
Goocher had her eye on the prize, pinning her first two opponents of the tournament before defeating North Texas’ Avery Sounders in a 3-2 decision for a national championship.
“That was… my mission,” Goocher said. “I couldn’t let anything else happen.”
Goocher said her latest title was the fifth of her career. She won three United States Girls’ Wrestling Association titles and one USA Wrestling title last year while a senior at Riverview Community High School.
According to head coach Grant MacKenzie, Goocher is the first UM-Dearborn wrestler to compete in the NCWA national championships and first to win a title.
“We knew Marina had potential to win a title based on her prior competitive experience,” MacKenzie said. “Seeing her dominate her first two opponents and win her championship bout was exciting. Most coaches never have this type of experience. I’m grateful Marina decided to wrestle at University of Michigan-Dearborn and want her to focus on being a four-time national champion.”
Goocher’s first taste at competing in a UM-Dearborn uniform came at the national tournament. She had won 100 matches in high school against males and hoped to continue competing against the opposite sex come college, but co-ed wrestling isn’t permitted by the NCWA.
The lack of competition did not hurt her championship quest — MacKenzie said “the NCWA is trying to grow the numbers by automatically giving each registered female wrestler a bid to the national tournament” — but it left Goocher wanting more. She hopes to be able to wrestle against men in the future.
“That’s the ultimate goal, to be able to compete against the guys so I can actually get some competition before nationals,” Goocher said.
Goocher and UM-Dearborn have been pioneers in women’s wrestling. UM-Dearborn’s program has been around for only six months. It is the lone NCWA women’s wrestling program in the state, and Goocher is the lone female wrestler from Michigan in the league.
UM-Dearborn’s program is still gaining traction. MacKenzie hopes the university recognizes Goocher’s accomplishment, stating that it is a “huge deal.”
“Marina won a national title without ever practicing on campus. UM-D doesn’t own a wrestling mat and I am a volunteer coach,” MacKenzie said. The odds of winning were against us, but we defeated all obstacles.”