By Jack VanAssche, EIC
Marina Goocher stood atop the podium once again on Saturday night.
The junior grappler earned her third consecutive national title after winning by a 6-1 decision in the women’s 130-pound weight class finals at the National Collegiate Wrestling Association in Texas.
Goocher defeated No. 1 seed Kendal Davis of Colorado State by a 6-1 decision, surrendering the lone point to a stalling call.
For Goocher, the national title was her third in the NCWA and seventh overall national title, including three with the U.S. Girls’ Wrestling Association and one with USA Wrestling.
But she’s not getting tired of winning.
“I think every single time your hand gets raised or every single time I’ve gotten a national title it still has that weight,” Goocher said.
“It’s just showing that all of your hard work and dedication has results and encourages you do stay motivated to get the same results again.”
Goocher, along with coach Grant MacKenzie, were excited to take another step toward a four-year title reign.
“The goal is to get four national titles,” MacKenzie said. “It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me.”
MacKenzie, who has coached UM-Dearborn club wrestling along with Henry Ford College’s NJCAA program, said he knows to recognize how rare Goocher’s accomplishments are to a coach.
“If we pull it off, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to repeat it.”
The tournament began with Goocher entering the bracket as the No. 3 seed despite her two previous national titles.
“I thought that a two-time returning national champ would get the No. 1 seed, but I’m not sure,” Goocher said.
After pinning her first opponent in 68 seconds, Goocher advanced to the semifinal where she faced No. 2 seed Avery Souders.
Souders and Goocher faced off two years ago for the national title at 130 pounds where Goocher edged out a 3-2 decision to claim her first NCWA title.
It wasn’t as close this time.
Goocher won by a major decision in a 13-1 domination to send her to the final against No. 1 seed Davis.
Both MacKenzie and Goocher felt the nerves leading up to the final despite their years of experience.
“I’m always nervous,” MacKenzie said. “Marina was nervous, too. The nerves were always there.
“If I don’t get the goosebumps, then I don’t want to do it anymore.”
Even as the only NCWA champion in UM-Dearborn history, Goocher is looking forward to applying other skills that she’s learned at the university for her future.
“I know a lot of wrestlers at the college level are all shooting for the Olympics,” she said. “I’m not sure that’s what I’m going for. Wrestling is definitely one of my passions, but I’m technically going to school to be an engineer. That’s going to come first.
“My dad says he can see me in my engineering job and helping out the youth wrestling organizations over at the high school. That sounds pretty good.”