Noah Adams after picking up a win in the semifinals of the Southern Scuffle (Photo/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)
Noah Adams, 197-pound redshirt sophomore wrestler at West Virginia University, has been named winner of the annual Hardman Award for West Virginia's amateur athlete of the year, as selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
In the 86-year history of the award, Adams is only the second WVU grappler to receive the honor, which is named after the late A. L. (Shorty) Hardman, longtime Charleston Gazette newspaper sports editor/columnist. Prior to Adams, Mountaineer multi-time mat champ Greg Jones earned back-to-back Hardman honors in 2004 and 2005.
Adams, a Coal City, West Virginia, native, became WVU's first Big 12 Wrestler of the Year on April 1, and was named a finalist for the 2020 WIN Magazine/Culture House Dan Hodge Trophy, presented by ASICS, on March 20. He finished the 2019-20 campaign with a 32-0 record, marking the third time a WVU grappler ended a season undefeated.
Adams became the second wrestler in program history to win a Big 12 Conference title on March 8, earning a 5-1 decision over South Dakota State's Tanner Sloan at 197 pounds. He completed the season with a 13-0 record against conference opponents and was named the Big 12 Wrestler of the Week on Dec. 31 and Jan 21. Although Adams was announced as the No. 2 seed at 197 pounds at the 2020 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, the Nationals were canceled by the NCAA because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"His success is certainly deserved," WVU head coach Tim Flynn told West Virginia Metro News. "While some people look at his record and his ranking and are shocked, but, believe me, if you saw what he did all summer, the amount of work he put in, how hard he trains, you wouldn't have that reaction at all."
Adams echoed his coach's comments, saying, "My work effort has gone up and I've stepped it up in practice. I took my offseason work seriously and really worked on my conditioning. Those have been the big things I really wanted to work on heading into the season."
In this year's voting, Adams' hard work helped him edge out three other athletes from the state of West Virginia, including InterMat No. 1 recruit Braxton Amos, a 220-pound wrestler at Parkersburg South High with three state titles and an unbeaten record. Amos has signed with University of Wisconsin.