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Finding His Spark Again: Brent Moore Falls Back in Love with Wrestling

Maybe you’ve heard the name, Brent Moore, and are wondering “where has he been?” You may have written him off as someone who had early success at Virginia Tech then fizzled out of the sport. Don’t be so quick to judge because there is a deeper story that Moore has never shared.

When you have extreme successes that are roadblocked by an unexpected injury there can be dire consequences. Brother to Oklahoma wrestler Mitch Moore, Brent won multiple Ohio state titles in high school and upset Sammy Sasso as a freshman in college. Then injury struck and depression started.

This is the story about how Brent Moore overcame his injury and found his spark to fall back in love with wrestling.

Route from St. Paris to Virginia Tech

Brent “Bonesaw” Moore is known for shocking the wrestling community by pulling out major upsets and is not someone any wrestler should take lightly. And when you’re feeling on top of the world, of course you’re going to love the sport.

During his days at St. Paris Graham high school he was a menace to anyone who stepped on the mat with him, winning two Ohio state championships, a FloNationals title, a Super 32 finals appearance, and placing at Ironman three times.

Out of high school, Purdue, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech all recruited Moore. The decision was tough but became easier during the summer of his senior year when he met Daniel Dennis at a Jeff Jordan camp.

After watching Moore wrestle, Dennis contacted Kevin Dresser, the head coach of the Hokies at the time. He asked Moore to come out for a visit. It didn’t take much for him to adopt Blacksburg as his new home.

“I was sold. I had a visit to Pittsburgh and a visit to Virginia Tech in the same weekend, then I had a visit to Purdue the next weekend. After I went to Virginia Tech, I just called the coaches from Purdue and told them I was going to Virginia Tech.”

A Successful Freshman Campaign

After a redshirt year, Moore found success in his first season wrestling for the Hokies in the 2017-2018 season. He posted a 20-12 record at 141 lbs and garnered two wins over #16 A.C. Headlee of UNC and a win over #15 Nick Zanetta of Pittsburgh.

The highlight of Moore’s redshirt freshman campaign was his epic overtime victory over NC State’s Kevin Jack, who was a two-time NCAA All-American at the time. The upset got him the 2018 ACC individual title, the team title for the Hokies, and the Most Outstanding Wrestler award for the tournament. This win came two weeks after losing to Jack in the dual meet by technical fall.

Moore ended his season 1-2 at the NCAA Tournament. His lone win at NCAAs was a major decision over Russel Rohlfing of CSU Bakersfield.

Roadblocked with Devastating News

While training freestyle during the offseason, Moore unfortunately suffered a devastating neck injury, which held back his training.

“I got locked up in an upper body position and basically, trying to stop myself from being thrown, I ended up getting planted right on my forehead. It jammed my neck really bad. The fractures were right at the base of my neck where your neck turns into your back.”

After several months of rehab to treat the nagging pain, Moore and his coaches decided it was best to get surgery.

An Exhausting Road to Recovery

The recovery process from his injury lasted one exhausting year. This was an absolute hell for a kid who only wanted to get on the mat and wrestle.

“The first six months I wasn’t allowed to lift anything more than five pounds. I was allowed to start doing rehab after that and a couple months after that I was allowed to get back in the weight room and a couple months after that I was allowed to drill and a couple months after that I was allowed to actually start getting into it a little bit more.”

Depression from an Injury

The monotonous and grueling process of recovery effectively killed Moore’s mentality towards wrestling and sent him to a dark place.

“I think ultimately that’s why I left (wrestling) because I was, like, really depressed. I wasn’t going in and working out with the team, a whole new class of guys came in that I didn’t really form relationships with. I felt like an outcast when I did come back to wrestling.”

Despite an amazing pin over Ohio State’s #8 Sammy Sasso in the #11 Hokie’s 2019 upset over #3 Ohio State, which set the wrestling world on fire, Moore had a very lackluster season after his return to the mat. “Pretty much the entire season when I came back in 2019 – like obviously I pinned Sasso and that was great, but other than that the year was pretty not good. I lost to several kids I shouldn’t have, and training wasn’t going well.”

This poor performance ultimately led to Moore’s decision to leave the sport behind.

Final Decision to Quit Wrestling

Though he had been battling an injury and other tough losses, Brent Moore’s ultimate decision to quit started at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.

“When I decided to quit, it all started at Vegas. I lost to Sasso and got knocked into the consolation bracket. In my match to go to the second day, I lost to a kid from Wyoming that I definitely should’ve beat, and every match I won at Vegas I won barely.” 

After his loss on the back side, he had a conversation with Virginia Tech head coach, Tony Robie. Seeing that Moore wasn’t wrestling to his full potential, he told him to take a week off to try and get his head together. “At that point I was done with wrestling.”

Life Without Wrestling

After calling it quits, Moore headed back home to live with his parents in St. Paris, Ohio. He worked for his father’s installation contracting company and went down an even darker path.

“I worked eight-hour days, five days a week at a job that I hated. I moved back home in the middle of nowhere, I had no friends – all my friends from high school had moved on with their lives. I had no social life, all I did was work, I didn’t really spend money and I didn’t go to the gym at all.”

Inspiration of an Underdog

After months of working hard, gaining weight, dealing with depression, and trying to find the fire he once had, Moore finally found his spark again at the 2021 NCAA tournament in St. Louis.

Although Brent travelled to the tournament to watch his younger brother, Mitch Moore, as a spectator, he never imagined that he would find his spark to wrestle again that weekend.

Moore found inspiration in 157lbs runner-up, Jesse Dellaveccia of Rider. “That kid – he took a year off of wrestling and worked for his dad doing construction type stuff, came back to wrestling and made a run to the national finals and it was just a sign for me to get back into it.”

After getting back home from nationals, Moore immediately bought himself a gym membership. From there he started wrestling again and put his name in the transfer portal.

In his words, “the rest is history.” Although he hated the feeling of taking a few steps back in life by moving back home, he claimed that it helped him realize what he had lost.

Choosing to Become a Golden Eagle

Once he announced he would be returning to wrestling, Moore received calls from schools such as Wisconsin, Wyoming, and South Dakota State. However, after hearing his story and finding out about his weight, most coaches seemed to lose interest.

“Between my GPA, the fact I was weighing 185 lbs at the time they were calling me, and I told them I hadn’t been wrestling for a year and a half, they all just stopped calling.”

Eventually, Moore chose to continue his career at Clarion. “Clarion was the only Division 1 school that showed consistent interest in me.” Aside from some NAIA programs and small schools in Ohio showing interest, Moore knew he belonged at the Division 1 level.

Throughout the process, Moore became very close with Clarion volunteer assistant coach, Brock Zacherl. “He made me very good about coming here.” 

Influence of His New Coaches

Moore spoke highly of the Golden Eagle’s coaching staff with Keith Ferraro at the helm and Nathan Kraisser, Nick Deloia, and Brock Zacherl as assistants.

“The coaches treat me like a leader on the team, and I fill the leader position because they respect me. They know that I’m a little bit older than most of the guys in the room and I have a little bit of a higher pedigree. They have me show technique and ask my opinion on certain things. I feel valued.” 

A Man on a Mission

Brent Moore has high hopes for the coming season and is ranked #24 in InterMat’s preseason rankings.

“I think that I’m capable of being on the podium. I have good habits going right now and if I can stay out of my own way it’s not a question of if I’ll be on the podium, it’s a question of how high or where I’ll be on the podium.” He feels as if he is wrestling as well as he ever has and is excited for the future.

Moore is a prime example of resilience and proving people wrong – even proving himself wrong in some cases.

“Everything that has seemed crazy to me as one point has come true for me. It seemed crazy to me that I was going to wrestle again at any capacity, and then it seemed crazy that I was going to wrestle D1 and then it seemed crazy to me that I was going to get a scholarship. I’ve got my eyes set on being an All-American; that’s how I want to go out.”

Brent Moore is arguably one of the most unpredictable and toughest people at 149 lbs this year, with previous wins over top ranked opponents to back it up. Pair that unpredictability with his freakish ability and innate drive and determination and who knows what Moore can do.

With his eyes already set on the podium in Detroit, it is obvious that competitors and spectators alike should watch out for Brent Moore because he has his spark back again.

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