By JACK VANASSCHE, Sports Editor
For the second straight season at the collegiate level and for the sixth time in her wrestling career, Marina Goocher won a national title.
Wrestling at the 136-pound weight class, Goocher pinned all three of her opponents on her way to the NCWA national title.
“Last year, I pinned everyone except for in the final,” Goocher said. “This time I got to pin everybody.”
Goocher pinned Kaylynn Hixembaugh of Southwestern Oregon Community College in the championship match to earn her sixth career national championship.
One of her titles came from USA Wrestling, three came in the USGWA, and the most recent two titles have come in the NCWA with the University of Michigan-Dearborn club wrestling team.
“It’s rare when you get a stud athlete like that,” said wrestling coach Grant MacKenzie. “Marina, she’s a thoroughbred. She’s into it, she has excellent grades, she wants to go to practice, and she wants to compete.”
Goocher is a product of Riverview High School where she accumulated over 100 wins in her career in the Michigan High School Athletic Association, majority of which came against male wrestlers.
However, as a part of the NCWA, Goocher is not allowed to compete against men, nor is she even allowed to practice with them.
As a result, she made the trip to the national tournament in Allen, Texas, with a 0-0 record on the season.
“It’s really frustrated,” Goocher said. “When you have tournaments before nationals they can kind of gauge where you’re at. So it’s like, I went to nationals with no experience.”
MacKenzie said Goocher was worried about making weight in the 130-lbs weight class, so the two decided she should bump up a weight class to 136 lbs.
“We both laughed about it because she weighed in at 130.6 (pounds),” MacKenzie said.
Goocher was not terribly worried about wrestling with heavier women.
“My mentality was, ‘Okay, these girls are heavier. That means I’m gonna be the lean, mean fighting machine in my weight class.’”
Despite the title being her sixth of her career, Goocher is not getting tired of seeing gold.
“It always feels good to stand on top of the podium and to know that all my hard work and dedication is paying off,” she said.
MacKenzie called Marina a “pioneer for women’s wrestling” after her win.
“I don’t even know how I would word it,” he said when asked to describe the feeling when Goocher claimed the title. “It’s just so nice to win when you have someone the caliber of Marina.”
Goocher does not plan to pull up any time soon. Her main goal of her collegiate career? A clean sweep of national titles.
“I want to be a four-time NCWA national champ.”