Bethel wrestler Hoover comes out on top
By Matt O'Donnell / Times-Herald
Posted: 06/26/2010 01:00:13 AM PDT
Former Jesse Bethel High wrestling champion Alice Hoover sits astride her horse in Vacaville, having mastered equestrian skills enough to become a champion in this arena as well. (Mike Jory/Times-Herald)
Editor's note: The Times-Herald will unveil its 10 candidates (five boys and five girls) for Athletes of the Year in the coming weeks. Today's feature is on Bethel High wrestler Alice Hoover.
Alice Hoover's family lives on a ranch in Vacaville where they care for about 20 horses. In just a few years, Hoover has learned how to ride and has placed in state competitions.
Hoover certainly rode off into the sunset during the wrestling season last winter, finishing third in the state in the 116-pound division and grabbing a Sac-Joaquin Section Masters championship. She lost in the semifinals at state but rebounded with two more wins to grab third.
Bethel coach Mike Sariano said Hoover improved in several areas after she transferred from Hogan to Bethel after her sophomore year.
"The competition (in girls wrestling) has gotten a lot better and it continues to get better," Sariano said. "She finished second last year and third this year but she lost a really tough match and then bounced back to take third."
Hoover made a smooth transition to her new school and to the Jaguars' wrestling program.
"At first I was pretty nervous because I didn't have that much experience," she said. "Eventually though, the girls accepted me and that helped a lot."
Hoover began her wrestling education as a seventh-grader at Springstowne Middle School. She played volleyball for one year in high school and ran cross country for three other years, but wrestling was her primary love.
"My sister and brother wrestled too, so that kind of got me started," she said. "I really loved it and kept doing it."
Hogan wrestling coach Ric Manibusan not only coached Hoover for two seasons but tutored her older sister, Samantha, and older brother Ray when they were Spartans. Samantha and Alice were on the 2008 girls team that won a state championship.
Manibusan was sad to see Alice leave Hogan but pleased that she thrived across town at Bethel.
"Honestly, she was one of the most adorable, coachable, competitive girls I had here," Manibusan said.
Hoover was always a strong on-the-top wrestler throughout her four seasons but improved in other areas as she got older.
"She's really good on top, and she's really physical as well," Sariano said. "She worked really hard to get more physical and aggressive on her feet."
Hoover isn't sure if she'll wrestle in the future. She plans to concentrate heavily on school in the coming years as she'll attend Solano College in the fall and hopes to transfer to UC Davis eventually.
Her work on the ranch might inspire Hoover to become a veterinarian one day.
Sariano hopes to have more wrestlers like Hoover in his program in future seasons.
"There are definitely more girls involved in the sport for sure," he said. "At Springstowne for example I think they had 50 girls on the team and that's spread throughout the state. I think it's just a lot more accepted and people see it in the Olympics and at the college level."