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March 10, 2011

David vs. Goliaths - Tech wrestler David Marone is possibly the lightest heavyweight in the nation

By: Marc Mullen

David Marone is unlike any other Virginia Tech wrestler on this year’s squad.

While his teammates minimize their intake during the season to maintain their ideal weight for competition, Marone eats as much as he wants when he wants, no matter what the scales will tell him later.

Is Marone out for the season due to injury? No, that was during his junior year when a shoulder injury sidelined him for the most of the year.

Had he given up this season because he didn’t recover to top form and someone has taken his starting job? Hardly, he has been penned in as the Hokies’ heavyweight starter all season long.

So, what makes him special? Well, the redshirt junior could be the lightest heavyweight in the nation, tipping the scales at a svelte 230 pounds in a weight class that maxes out at 285 pounds.

“I am definitely small for a heavyweight. There is no doubt about that,” Marone said. “But at the same time, I can move a lot better and do some things that a normal heavyweight can’t do.

“I’m probably in a lot better shape than most, which helps, too. It’s a benefit for me to be in really good shape, especially if I can force a scramble with a heavyweight that just gets them exhausted.

“So if I can force a lot of action in the first period, they’re not used to that because most heavyweights are just used to wrestling the heavyweight game. So I don’t think I am at a disadvantage at all, and I also don’t make excuses for myself. What I lack in size, I certainly make up for in other places.”

Originally brought to Blacksburg as a 197-pounder, the then-freshman was asked by the coaches to bump up in weight class due to some recruiting issues that left Tech without a heavyweight.

At the time, Marone just wanted to please his coaches, get out on the mat and compete for Virginia Tech. He credits a lot of his early success – an 18-11 mark and a second-place finish at the 2008 ACC Championships – to head coach Kevin Dresser.

“The thing about wrestling for Dresser is that he always wants more from you and expects more from you, and in essence, you expect more from yourself,” Marone said. “So was I happy with the way it finished out? Yeah, but I wanted to qualify for nationals. I wasn’t satisfied with not making it to the NCAAs.”

The Broomfield, Colo., native was the top seed in his weight class heading into the 2011 ACC Championships. However, Maryland’s Spencer Myers upset the Hokie, 3-2, in the second tiebreaker of overtime.

It was also the Terrapins who ended Tech’s bid to win its first ACC team title. Maryland finished with 94.5 points, 12 ahead of the Hokies, who were the regular-season champions.

David Marone was undefeated in ACC dual matches this season and finished second in the heavyweight class at the ACC Championships.

Still, Marone should get an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships and keep the opportunity of pursuing his goal of becoming an All-American.

“I’m not going to be happy with anything less,” he said. “If you look at rankings, I shouldn’t be [an All-American], but I don’t pay attention to that. I’ve lost to some good guys this year in some close matches, and I don’t think I would lose to them again. I am finally healthy, I am starting to peak, and my goal is to be an All-American.”

If he does get the NCAA invite, it will be the second time he has qualified for the wrestling’s version of the Big Dance. As a sophomore, Marone finished 3-2 in St. Louis in 2009, advancing to the round of 12, and he was one win shy of being an All-American.

“I didn’t qualify as a freshman for the NCAA Tournament, but I went and watched, and that got me motivated to make it [as a participant],” Marone said. “So the next year when I qualified, it was such a great experience.

“You are out there wrestling in front of all those people, against the best wrestlers in the country, and I might have psyched myself out because I didn’t wrestle well in my first match. But I was able to come back and win three in a row before losing in the round of 12.

“But just being able to be out there and getting wins under my belt at the national level proved that I could compete with anyone.”

Virginia Tech, as a team, also proved it could compete with anyone in the nation earlier this year when the Hokies finished second to No. 1 Cornell in the NWCA National Duals, cited as Marone’s highlight of his career, so far, as he was quick to mention.

“National duals this year was pretty exciting,” he said. “To see how much we have progressed in my four years here. To finish second and to beat (No. 2) Oklahoma State and (No. 4) Wisconsin and wrestle No. 1 Cornell was a really awesome experience. That, and wrestling at nationals, but I know I have a couple more of those left in me.”

But before you think he has it pretty good, Marone does point out that he, like his teammates, does sacrifice for his sport as well. His home state of Colorado is renowned for its ski resorts, and Marone enjoys the outdoor activities his state has to offer.

“I love wake boarding and boating, just being out on the water,” he said. “Before I got to college I used to snowboard a lot, too, but now that I’m wrestling, I haven’t done that in a while.”

If he doesn’t get the NCAA invitation, the redshirt junior still has another season to accomplish his goals while sacrificing for his sport.