Jake Hodges, a native of Watkinsville, Georgia, came to Northern Iowa as a four-time state placer and one-time state champion for the Warriors of Oconee High School. Jake wrestled at 141 pounds throughout his entire college career as a Panther. Since he graduated from UNI in 2017, Jake Hodges is now part of the Panther Wrestling Club. He competes at 65 kilograms in the senior division of freestyle wrestling. Hodges has an older sister, Leah, who works at a humane society.
Q: What was your wrestling experience like at Oconee High School?
A: I had a lot of fun with the team. We were serious about wrestling, but we also had fun while doing it. Also Georgia has a solid wrestling community, however it is not as large as Iowa’s.
Q: Why did you come to UNI?
A: Wrestling was a huge reason for why I came to UNI. Coach Schwab had been at a couple of wrestling camps I attended when I was in high school. So I knew Doug better than any of the other college coaches who contacted me. Once I came to visit Cedar Falls, I knew that Northern Iowa would be the right fit.
Q: What helped prepare you most to wrestle in college?
A: In high school, I was able to practice at the Compound Wrestling Club. It was a great experience, because there was a lot of high level talent at the club. At Compound, I learned how to be a better sparring partner, which I would say helped the most in preparing for college wrestling.
Time at UNI
Q: What degree did you graduate with from UNI?
A: I graduated in May 2017 with a bachelor’s in computer science.
Q: What was one moment through UNI wrestling that you will always remember?
A: I will never forget when we won the dual against Missouri my junior year. It was a special dual, because with that win we captured the Mid-American Conference dual title. It was fun to watch, because everyone wrestled so well. But the best part about it all was that no one thought we would even win the dual, so we proved a lot of people wrong that day.
Q: What do you believe sets Northern Iowa apart from the rest of the teams in the NCAA?
A: We have a coaching staff that genuinely cares about every one of the members of the team. And they don’t only care about them as athletes but as people too.
Q: What helped you improve most a wrestler during your college career? And a a person?
A: As a part of the team, I had a lot of help from my teammates and the coaches, but I can’t say just one thing helped me grow as a wrestler. As a person, I grew through the experiences and challenges the coaches put us through like giving speeches at wrestling events or giving back to the people who support us.
Q: How do you still stay connected with UNI wrestling?
A: I am part of the Panther Wrestling Club. So I am still competing as an athlete, but I can still help coach guys on the team if needed.
Career and Life Goals
Q: What is the next step, in terms of your career, now that you are done with college?
A: My long-term goal is to coach wrestling. As of right now, I help Cruse Aarhus with his wrestling club: Immortal Athletics. Since I want to stay connected to wrestling, I most likely will stay in Iowa since there is such a huge community for the sport.
Q: What is the next step in terms of your wrestling career?
A: I will continue to compete. My first big goal is to make the U.S. world team in freestyle.
Q: Do you have any goals of having a family?
A: I think about having a wife and some kids from time to time. But it is hard to picture myself having a family, because of my current circumstances.
Q: What is it like now that you wrestle freestyle in the senior division?
A: I like freestyle wrestling. I used to wrestle it a lot in the off season when I was in high school. But in the senior division, a lot of the guys are really good. I would say I still have stuff to learn, but I like that because learning more is my favorite part of the sport.
Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: I usually play League of Legends, read or find things to do with friends, which is mostly League of Legends
Q: What is League of Legends?
A: It’s hard to explain the game if you have never played it. To keep it simple: League of Legends is an online video game where you have five players fighting the other teams five players in order to destroy their base. I don’t know why I like it so much, but it is really fun.
Q: Who do you play League of Legends with most?
A: Most of the time I play with my PWC teammate, Joey Lazor, or Coach Roper, our assistant coach at UNI. We are all pretty even in terms of how good we are, but I play a lot more, so I’m ranked a bit higher.
Q: How would you compare the Georgia wrestling community to Iowa’s?
A: In Georgia, the community might be smaller, but the amount of love the fan base has for the sport is just as much as Iowa. I do find it funny that, in Iowa, people will see your cauliflower ear and ask “Do you wrestle?” In Georgia they will look at you and be like “What’s wrong with your ears?”
Thank you for reading this post about Jake Hodges, make sure to read another Panther Perspective, like this one from John McConkey!
You can look at Jake Hodge’s roster profile here.
Jake Hodges doesn’t have any social media for you guys to look at, but you know what you could look at instead? More Panther Perspective’s!