Remember The The Wrestler: Rob Hoback; Columbus Jct. HS ‘98
Rob Hoback… he’s a legend in Southeast Iowa. One of the best athletes to ever come out of the region. On the mat he was a 3X state qualifier/2X state finalist/1X state champion. Crazy to think that he was just as successful in THREE other sports that he played besides wrestling! Rob was first team All-State in football. He placed 4 times at state track. And he was also 1st team All-State in baseball. He was awarded The All-Hawkeye Athlete of the Year in 1998,” which is an award given to the best overall high school athlete of the SE Iowa and Western Illinois region.
As a Sophomore in 1996, Rob qualified for state at 1A 130. He won his first match, 5-3 over Jeff Evans of Oakland, Riverside, but was pinned in the quarterfinals by Nate Trees of Greene, who would go on to place 3rd that year and 1st the next year. In the consolations, Rob won his next one, but ultimately became one match away from placing when he was beaten by Brian Ewing of Moravia who went on to place 5th. The guy Ewing beat for 5th and 6th was Jeff Evans, the guy Rob beat first round. A very respectable showing for a Sophomore in their first appearance at state wrestling in a bracket that included 5-6 state champions in it.
In Rob’s Junior year, he continued to progress and was a state runner up in 1997 at 2A 135. His finals loss was against Frank Marchant of Humboldt and although he lost the match, I felt like both these guys had moments where they displayed crazy athleticism in the match.
As a Senior, Rob came into the tournament undefeated and was in just a crazy, deep bracket. In fact, his side of the bracket was crazy, particularly the top quarter (Rob was the quarter below), which consisted of returning runner-up Jake Munger of Maynard, W. Central, future state champion, Seth Evans of Lenox and Justin Dejong of Rock Rapids, Central Lyon… Rob won his first two matches handily and was set to face the winner between Seth Evans and Jake Munger, which ended up being Munger. Hoback defeated Munger, I believe by the score of 9-8 which put him into the finals to wrestle against another standout wrestler from a good wrestling family/community. His name was Dustin Destival, from Wapsie Valley, in which Hoback won an expectedly exciting, competitive finals match against him.
Rob Hoback is still involved with wrestling and his son, Damon Hoback was a Senior this year who placed 4th at state for Burlington HS in Kansas!
1997 2A 135
1 Frank Marchant, Sr., Humboldt
2 Rob Hoback, Jr., Columbus Junction
3 Ben Scorpil, Sr., West Liberty
4 Jason Weber, Sr., Independence
5 Mike Fertig, Sr., Webster City
6 Colin Wikan, Sr., Waukon
1998 2A 145
1 Rob Hoback, Sr., Columbus Junction
2 Dustin Destival, Sr., Wapsie Valley, Fairbank
3 Jake Munger, Sr., Maynard, West Central
4 Seth Evans, So., Lenox
5 Chris Cory, Sr., Bondurant-Farrar
6 Matt Cornelison, Jr., Guthrie Center
His 1998 Senior Year State Championship:
This is his Junior year finals loss vs. Frank Marchant, but I felt like both these guys had moments where they displayed crazy athleticism in this match:
Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
My parents were always encouraging me to try every sport. My Dad might even tell you that I learned to wrestle from watching the movie Vision Quest. LOL
Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?
Wrestling family. My oldest son is in his senior year and just won districts. Making another run a state. My brother Andy Hoback qualified a couple times and placed 4th his senior year.
What were your youth results? Any rivals?
Made it to state a couple times but never placed. Not really.
What was your record in HS?
148-24. Wrestled some hammers my freshman year!!
How did you place at state every year?
Qualified sophomore year, 2nd junior year, 1st senior year.
What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?
Moment: Freshman year, Sectionals and I am in overtime with Drew Achenbach from North English Valley. Couple stalemates and we are down to about 15 seconds left. I hit a takedown and he fights it off at first but then I start to gain the upper hand. I get what I think was the takedown and jump up and start back to the middle of the mat. I then get tackled from behind and then hear the whistle. We meet in the center, shake hands and I go to raise my hand and the ref holds it down and raises Drew’s. The crowd went nuts!!! The ref turned to me and said, “ Don’t stop wrestling until I blow the whistle.” I was crushed! No wrestle back either. Drew got caught and pinned in the finals. I got to redeem myself at state duels and came away with a couple wins.
How would you describe your wrestling style?
Greased Lightening!! LOL I am not sure what you would call it. I know that I loved being on my feet and I loved finding new ways to take people down.
Who was your most influential coach?
I can’t pick just one because they all had skin in the game. They were the best!!
What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
Sophomore year at state and I had to win this match to solidify becoming a place winner. I had wrestled this dude in sectionals and districts and could not beat him. Brian Ewing from Moravia. It was always close as was this match. I lost 5-4. I still think about that match. Oh yeah and when I lost in the finals my junior year. Crazy disappointed!
Was your team competitive in HS/college?
Yes!! Beyond competitive.
Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?
When I got to the junior high/high school years, it was Randy Pugh. He set the bar high!! But there are a lot more guys out there that definitely helped me along the way.
Who are your favorite current wrestlers?
The whole Hawkeye Lineup.
What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
Junior year, state finals was pretty upsetting!! LOL
What sports did you play?
Football, Wrestling, Baseball, Track and Field.
How did you do in each of them?
Four year letter winner in every sport in high school. All state honors in all four. Would have to look at the record books. LOL
Who were some athletes that you looked up to growing up?
Too many to name.
How has your skills you picked up wrestling helped your game in other sports? How did other sports help your wrestling game?
Wrestling taught you to be in good position all the time to accomplish your objective. That helps in other sports and all walks of life.
What are some of your favorite memories of every sport you play?
Playing at the Unidome in football, Giving Mr. Purdy a hard time on the way to Dickinson relays for Track, and so many more.
What accolades are you most proud of from every sport?
Getting awarded The Hawkeye Athlete of the Year in 1998, Placed 4 times at State Track and Field meet.
Is your entire family athletic?
I would have to say yes. Both parents were very athletic. It was also something that drove me personally. I had some of the same teachers and coaches that my parents did when they were in school. I had to listen to stories about them and how it wasn’t going to be easy filling their shoes. My brother and sister were also amazing athletes!
Would you consider being a multi sport athlete as becoming more and more discouraged as time goes on for people who want to play a sport in college? What would you say to a HS athlete who is considering not going out for a sport they love because they feel like it’ll be held against them for not dedicating that time to the one sport they plan on playing in college?
Absolutely becoming more discouraged now-a-days. I believe not only is it discouraged, but it can also hinder an athlete from getting accepted into a college/program that they are more then qualified to attend and compete at.
To an athlete that is thinking about not going out for a sport they love: Don’t worry too much about it. You as an athlete will know your limitations and will make the right decisions. No one intentionally sets themselves up for failure.
If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?
Not sure what I would change. Maybe could have won more of the close ones.
What was your best wrestling memory/accomplishment? How hard did you work?
Senior year, 48-0, State Champ, Team duel Champs. We had a highly successful season. We worked our butts off.
Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?
From freshman to senior year. Here are a few in no particular order: Josh Dorothy, Justin Jeffs, Ryan Stevens, Tommy Hahn, Ben Scorpil and the list goes on.
Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
Did you wrestle after high school?
What other sports did you play?
Football, Baseball, Track & Field
What are your favorite sports teams?
What are your hobbies?
Crossfit!!! Anything outdoors hunting, fishing etc. Spending time with family and hanging out with friends. Love watching me some wrestling!! Can’t wait to be able to go watch in person again.
How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
It has definitely made me a competitor in all aspects of life and has giving me the mindset of, “there’s nothing you can do to keep me from accomplishing my goals. I will find a way to succeed!”
What do you do now?
Power Plant Controls & Instrumentation Technician 1. I work for the Best Damn Utility Company!! Muscatine Power & Water
Are you still involved with wrestling?
Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
Nail the basics the other stuff will come. Have fun!
Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?