IOWA CITY, Iowa — Wherever Andrew Hochstrasser goes to wrestle, a similar conversation pops up. When people ask the Boise State graduate where he was raised and Hochstrasser answers, "Utah," high praise is immediately heaped on wrestlers from the Beehive State.
"It's really something else," Hochstrasser said after finishing fourth at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Saturday. "People always talk about how tough wrestlers from Utah are. It doesn't matter where I go, once people find out I grew up and wrestled high school in Utah, I get automatic respect."
Hochstrasser was the top placer of the three Utah wrestlers competing in the first day of competition. Matt Brown, who has been home from his LDS mission for just over a year and is an incoming redshirt freshman for Penn State, and Cheney Haight of Provo were eliminated before placing matches.
"You look at Cheney and Matt and they both wrestled in tough weight classes and lost close matches," Hochstrasser said. "We have five more guys going tomorrow, so the respect we're getting is well-deserved.
"Then you look at guys like Cael Sanderson and Rulon Gardner and the mark they have had on USA wrestling and it really is exciting to be able to say I'm a Utah wrestler."
Sanderson is the four-time NCAA champion from Iowa State who grew up in Heber City and has led the Penn State Nittany Lions to back-to-back NCAA team championships. Gardner is a two-time Olympic medalist. Gardner's attempt at a comeback this year ended Friday when he was unable to make weight. Even so, Gardner will always be remembered for his gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Games.
Hochstrasser plans on using this experience to help him as he prepares for the 2016 Olympics.
"This was a great learning experience," Hochstrasser said. "I'm hoping to find a situation where I can get a job and continue my wrestling career."
"I'll stay in Boise. I have great coaches and it will give me the best chance as I move forward."
Brown has four years of wrestling for Penn State ahead of him. The chance to be part of the Nittany Lion program is something he believes will prepare him for the next Olympic Trials.
"I am in a program where our wrestling room has some of the best wrestlers in the nation and I can say for sure the best coaching staff," Brown said. "These guys give me the best competition every day in practice and Cael and his staff help so much. I'm just a kid who works hard and for me that will be the difference."
Sunday's action will include Ben Kjar, Jason Chamberlain, Phil Keddy, Zach Lamano and Candace Workman.