Ferry’s Hoover Signs With NIU
MARTINS FERRY — Be it football or wrestling, Dalton Hoover has been nothing short of sensational on the prep level.
After three ultra-successful seasons in wrestling and four more on the gridiron at Martins Ferry, the two-sport powerhouse has been inundated with college scholarship offers.
The 5-11, 218-pounder, after a myriad of recruiting trips, has opted to continue his amazing mat career at Northern Illinois University. Hoover inked his National Letter of Intent Tuesday morning at a ceremony at Martins Ferry, attending by family, friends and a host of Purple Rider coaches and administration.
The Dekalb-based institution is a rising D-1 wrestling power, competing in the Mid-American Conference.
The Huskies beat out the likes of Ohio University, Kent State, Pitt, Edinboro and the U.S. Naval Academy amongst others.
“Northern Illinois felt like home to me,” Hoover said.
“I liked the other places but I loved the Northern Illinois coaches, campus and facilities.”
Hoover quickly surfaced on the D-1 collegiate wrestling recruiting landscape.
He finished fourth in the OVAC Ron Mauck Tournament as a freshman in the 182-pound class. He subsequently earned a spot in the state tournament.
Hoover has been a virtual beast on the mats the past two years, competing, if not owning, the 195-pound classification.
He was nearly unbeatable as a sophomore.
Hoover won the OVAC championship that season, defeating nationally ranked Justin Allman of Parkersburg South in the finals.
He went on to finish as D-III state runnerup, dropping a tough decision to Atwater Waterloo’s Will Bolanz in the finals.
All told, Hoover compiled a remarkable 35-3 mark that winter.
His junior mat campaign was again marked by domination. He repeated as OVAC champion, again besting Allman in the finals by a 7-4 count. Another district title preceded another state tournament berth.
Hoover advanced to the state semifinals, dropping a controversial 4-3 verdict via the ultimate tiebreaker to Massillon Tuslaw’s Logan Hall. He displayed his resolve by wrestling back to claim third place, capping a brilliant 32-2 campaign.
“I couldn’t have asked to coach a better young man. He has a great work ethic and is a proven leader,” Martins Ferry wrestling coach Chaz Yoder said. “He dedicated himself to becoming a Division I wrestler. I am proud of all he has accomplished and look forward to another successful season with Dalton.”
Hoover’s three-year mat record is an amazing 107-14.
“The NIU coaches have me ticketed for the 197-pound class. I am comfortable with that,” he said.
Hoover, who plans to major in education at NIU, has two goals for his final Purple Riders’ wrestling campaign.
“I want to go undefeated and win a state title,” he said.
Hoover also distinguished himself impressively in a national tournament at Virginia Beach this past May. He went 8-0 in the prestigious event. He defeated the Maryland state champion and national runnerup by an 8-5 count.
Hoover enters the mat season as the state’s No. 1-ranked 195-pounder in Division III.
In football, Hoover was a three-year starter for Dave Bruney. He was a bulwark on both sides of the ball and enjoyed brilliant senior and junior campaigns.
The bruising running back rushed for more than 1,500 yards and scored 22 touchdowns this fall, leading the Purple Riders back to the playoffs, after a two-year hiatus. Defensively, he recorded an amazing 157 tackles, including 27 in the Purple’s heart-breaking playoff loss to Portsmouth West.
For his yeoman effort, Hoover was named the 2017 Eastern District Defensive Player of the Year in Division V.
As a junior, Hoover rushed for more than 1,300 yards and 15 TDs while splitting time between quarterback and running back. Defensively, the stellar linebacker recorded a team-leading 104 tackles. He was also an exceptional long snapper for the Purple Riders.
Those numbers earned Hoover co-district player-of-the-year honors and first-team all-state plaudits. He was also tabbed captain of the Times Leader all-star squad and was a first-team All-Valley honoree.
Hoover also excelled as a sophomore, gaining first-team all-district laurels as a linebacker.
Dalton is the son of Jim and Robyn Hoover. They reside in Mingo Junction. Jim is a teacher and coach at Martins Ferry High School. He played football at Eastern Michigan University.
Northern Illinois is coming off a successful mat campaign. In addition to their best-ever showing in the Mid-American Conference, the Huskies sent five grapplers to the NCAA Division I National Championship Tournament.