Cale Hoover is in his ninth season as the head wrestling coach at Center Grove High School.
On his watch, the Trojans have won two sectional titles and produced multiple state meet qualifiers.
But for Hoover, the most unforgettable moment of his coaching career happened in 2012, when senior Sean Mappes capped an undefeated season by winning the 170-pound state championship.
To date, Mappes — now a junior at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga — is the only Center Grove wrestler to reach the title match under Hoover.
He has a vivid recollection of that special night:
“It was the most nervous I had ever been,” Hoover said. “For me at this point, Sean was my first wrestler that had advanced that far. It’s completely out of your control, and you’re so close at that point, and so you just kind of keep your fingers crossed that everything goes the way you want. So that’s the biggest thing I remember, how nervous and how slow … it feels like that match is never going to get here. And it’s hard to believe it was three years ago. He’s almost done with his third college season now.
“Pretty much all the kids in our program are familiar with him. It’s something we never forget. One of the things we told them this year was, it’s hard to describe in words how exciting that is. That win, winning that state championship … as excited as our kids were to win the sectional (this season), to win an individual state title is 1,000 times more exciting. You can’t even put into words what that felt like. The emotions just carried on for a long period of time, it really did.
“People who have been to the wrestling state finals, I think, know how exciting that championship round is. I’ve been to other state finals events, and obviously they’re great for the kids. I’m not sure that they have that kind of environment, though. It just adds to it even more.”