When it comes to athletic success, no one could ask for a better week than the one Noah Adams just wrapped up.
It started last Monday, when he was named the Big 12 Wrestler of the Week. It rolled on into Chattanooga, where the West Virginia sophomore beat the nation's fifth-ranked wrestler to win the Southern Scuffle. Adams' performance at the two-day tournament was so impressive that he was named Most Outstanding Wrestler.
But the impact went beyond that. Adams learned Monday that he skyrocketed up the national rankings. He is ranked in the top five in all four major polls — Trackwrestling (No. 2), Open Mat (No. 3), Intermat (No. 4) and FloWrestling (No. 5).
It's been an eye opening few days, but for Adams it's just part of the greater plan.
"It's been awesome to see how much I've progressed so far," the 2017 Independence graduate said Thursday. "I started out as a redshirt and was still trying to adjust to college from high school. I've made great strides so far, and I have confidence in my (coaches) and teammates that as long as I can keep doing what I'm doing, I can keep making those great strides."
To say Adams has made strides doesn't do much justice to just how far he has come. Last year wasn't exactly a disappointment — Adams qualified for the NCAA Championships after his fifth-place finish at the Big 12 Tournament. But, as he often did at the high school level, Adams has taken it to another level.
His run through the Southern Scuffle, which culminated with him pinning No. 5 Nathan Traxler of Stanford in the finals, ran Adams' record to 21-0. He leads the Mountaineers in wins, pins (4) and major decisions (6). He is 8-0 in dual matches.
Everyone else may be fixated on his unblemished record, but Adams is keeping it in perspective.
"I try to think of it as, I want to go 1-0 every week," he said. "A lot of people will bring it up to me and say, 'Man, you're doing really good with this win streak. Does it bother you at all?' No. This is what I train to do. This is literally it. So I think as long as I'm undefeated each week, then I'll achieve my goals."
His goals, of course, are to keep winning and achieve not just All-America status but to win a national championship. The results so far do nothing to make that seem unattainable.
Adams is never short on motivation. He thinks about how things went last season, when he finished with a 19-15 record. That's a winning mark, but when you consider he lost only seven matches in four years of high school, he was at a level to which he was unaccustomed.
"Not winning (as much) last year sparked something in me this year," Adams said. "I don't want to lose. I just have a will to win.
"It was a big setback. It was also very humbling. It showed me where I was and what I needed to do to get where I want to be. So there was good and bad to it. Hopefully I can fix some stuff this year and make it pay off."
The Mountaineers will continue their season with a dual at Virginia Tech Saturday at 7 p.m. The Hokies are 5-0 in duals, including a win over then-No. 3 Ohio State in Columbus, as well as No. 9 Missouri and No. 21 Northwestern.
Adams might have the biggest cheering section there — family, friends and former teammates and coaches are sure to make the short trip to Blacksburg. That includes former Independence head coach Cliff Warden, who now coaches at Virginia power Christiansburg — less than 10 miles from the Virginia Tech campus.
"It's awesome getting to go see my old coaches and family and friends. Any time they can come up and watch or I can be around when they're around is awesome for me," Adams said. "This is part of the reason I do this, is for them."
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