Everyday Champion -- Chad Hanke
If it wasn't for Michael Hanke, Chad Hanke wouldn't be wrestling and quite likely might not even be in college. It was the elder Hanke who was persistent that his third-grade son not quit the sport that wasn't too kind to him at the beginning.
"It (wrestling) wasn't a good experience at the start," Chad Hanke said. "It took me the whole year to win my first match, but my dad was persistent and taught me to never give up - to be good at something - and wrestling turned out to be the sport for me."
Success would come rather quickly for today's nationally ranked 197-pounder who has 70 career Beaver victories (second on the team) and is among the favorites at the upcoming Pac-10 Conference Championships at legendary Gill Coliseum. In fact, Hanke went on to become a three-time state champion at Dayton (Ore.) High School after that rocky start as a youngster.
It's that success that led Hanke to have a chance encounter with then first-year OSU head coach Jim Zalesky.
"I first met Coach Zalesky at a high school tournament and I told him I wanted to wrestle for him - it was exciting to meet him," Hanke said. "It's been an awesome experience to wrestle for Coach Zalesky; he's taught me a lot about the sport, but also about life."
Life at OSU has been pretty good for this junior who has ambitious goals as the season draws closer to postseason competition.
"To win the Pac-10 title," Hanke says of his immediate goal. "Then, win the NCAA title."
Fans will get a chance to see Hanke and the nationally ranked team just three more times this season in Corvallis starting Feb. 11 against rival Arizona State and Feb. 13 vs. Cal-State Fullerton. The highly anticipated conference tournament is Feb. 27 with tickets available for all the remaining home events available here.
To read more about Hanke please continue on to the following Q&A: What led you to major in exercise and sport science? I bounced around a little bit; I tried sociology and business, then found exercise and sport science and it has been the right fit for me. I've had some great instructors; I'm happy with my decision. Jess Lewis (former Beaver All-American in football and wrestling -- teaches Drugs and Sport class at OSU) is my hero on campus. The way he works with student-athletes; he inspired me to go in the direction of exercise and sport science.
What will your major lead you to down the road? My aspirations are to become a high school health/physical education teacher and a wrestling coach.
What made you decide to attend OSU? I wanted to go to school in Oregon; then Coach Zalesky was hired and that made it an easy decision for me.
Did anything surprise you about campus when you arrived? Dayton (Oregon) is a small town, so I'm not used to this many people.
What does having a scholarship mean to you? If it wasn't for the scholarship that I have, I would not be attending college pursuing my dreams of becoming a high school teacher and coach.
When did you know that wrestling was the sport for you? I started becoming successful after my first year; I began to win a lot of matches and by the time I got to high school I started winning most of my matches. That gave me a lot of confidence.
What are some of the challenges of being a wrestler? The physical demand of wrestling is the most difficult part of the sport. The long seasons can take a toll; you have to be mentally and physically prepared.
Being a junior, what do you hope to accomplish over the next two years? My first goal is to become a Pac-10 champion and compete at the nationals. I want to leave OSU as a national champion.
What should fans know about the Pac-10 Championships? It's one of the best wrestling events in the nation; it's a great opportunity for fans to see terrific athletes in one place. I hope our fans come out and support us; it's going to be a great event.
What did the team think when more than 3,000 fans attended the Endowment Meet (Jan. 30)? It was exciting to see so many fans care about our team, especially when you consider the number of programs that have ended at colleges around the country. The attendance was very impressive and it showed us that people care about this program.
What led you to Mexico to build houses? I had the opportunity within my youth group when I was a freshman in high school to build houses for underprivileged people. I would jump at the opportunity to do it again, it was a great experience. I think about that trip all the time - it makes me think about how fortunate I am to be at Oregon State.
Last edited by Schlottke; 02-08-2011 at 01:48 PM.