In the final seconds of his championship match, wrestler Dave Foxen ’12 upset the No. 4 seed in the 174-pound weight class at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championship March 4. In doing so, he became the first unseeded wrestler in any weight class to win the championship since 1963 and will represent Brown in the NCAA Championship. For his historic upset victory, The Herald has named Foxen Athlete of the Week.
Herald: No unseeded wrestler has won in any weight class at EIWA Championship since 1963. How does it make you feel to accomplish such a historic feat?
Foxen: It was really cool, definitely. I only heard that right after my match. I got my hand raised, and the announcer on the side of the mat announced it over on the loudspeaker. It made it through the headgear, and it was pretty cool because wrestling, it is a very top-heavy sport, so it’s kind of hard to break through as an unseeded athlete. But I’ve never been afraid to play the underdog role. I’ve always liked flying in under the radar. I’m comfortable there.
Your victory in the championships seemed to be very hard-fought and wasn’t decided until the closing seconds. What happened at the end of that match, and what was going through your mind?
It was a very physical match, right from the beginning. My opponent from Navy — he was very strong and he was very heavy on the back of my head the entire match. Actually, the back of my neck was pretty sore when I got up (Monday) morning. Takedowns were very hard to come by. I pretty much knew that the match was going to be decided by one takedown. I was kind of chasing my one move — which is my underhook, my underhook-to-knee pick — the whole match. I was getting closer and closer each time I hit it. And I knew that if I kept on chasing after that move, and I didn’t stray away from my strategy that I’d eventually get it. And, sure enough, that’s what secured me the match in the end.
You did not compete in the 2009–10 season. Why was that?
I took a year away from school and actually went up to Iowa. And I trained there with the Hawkeye Wrestling Club at the University of Iowa for a year, which was a really great experience. It helped me. I think it helped me grow as a wrestler, gave me a little bit more time to mature physically and was a big influence in my success this year.
What went into making that decision?
I didn’t have the best year my sophomore year. You know, I had a decent year, but I went to (the EIWA Championship) and I went 0–2. And I wasn’t happy with where I was (as) a wrestler. And I thought that taking some time off and giving myself an extra year to train would help me a lot.
You were in the 141-pound weight class as a first-year. How have you been able to bulk up and be successful in larger classes?
I’ve definitely spent a lot of time in the weight room. I’ve also grown up … a little bit with my time here. My family kind of has a history of being late bloomers. So there’s always kind of a getting-used-to period with that, because you’re wrestling guys with different body types and different styles of wrestling, so you kind of have to adjust to that and acclimate to the different styles. But after a while, you start to get a feel for what it’s like wrestling at the heavier weights. And it’s not easy because I’ve never wrestled the same weight class any two consecutive years in college. But my body’s adjusted well, and I have my coaches and strength coaches to thank to help me along in that route.
What’s your proudest wrestling achievement?
It would have to be (Sunday). It was really awesome, especially considering everything that I’ve been through and that our team has been through the past year — coming from almost being cut just last April. … We’re sending two, possibly three, guys to Nationals in St. Louis in two weeks. And it’s just really great to be a part of that.
What got you started in wrestling in the first place?
My father was a wrestler. He wrestled at SUNY Brockport in college, and then he competed internationally in freestyle after that. He was a two-time collegiate All-American at Brockport, and he was also a multi-time All-American at the senior freestyle level. He was the first one to get me involved in the sport. My first tournament — the first match that I ever had — I got pinned in about 30 seconds. And then I felt pretty bad. And then the next match, I got a pin, and then from that moment on, I was hooked. I thought it was the coolest thing ever.
This is the first time you’ve qualified for the NCAA tournament. How does it feel to have that opportunity?
It’s awesome. I’m a senior too, and this is my first time. So I’ve kind of worked my entire life for this, to be able to go and compete at the highest stage in wrestling, which is NCAAs and give myself a chance to be All-American. I’ve been through a lot, too, because coming from high school, I never even placed in my state tournament. Never even qualified, actually. So I’ve worked really hard throughout my college career to get to that next level. And it’s nice to see my hard work’s finally paying off.