Matt Mariacher is guided by his faith. Faith in Christianity, and faith in the benefits of unrelenting effort.
“I wasn’t ever super athletically talented,” the fifth-year wrestler said. “But I realized that with hard work, I could catch up. My dad taught me that hard work pays off.”
The disciplined, focused, and clean-cut manner in which Mariacher lives his life correlates perfectly with the ideals of the American University wrestling program.
“He exemplifies what American wrestling is all about,” said first-year coach Teague Moore. “I saw immediately that the other athletes on the team look up to Matt because of the type of lifestyle he leads, and the commitment to excellence he shows.”
Heading into his final season, Mariacher, SOC/BA ’11, has his sights set on a national title. Wrestling at 141 pounds last season, he registered the best results of his career. His 33-9 record led the team, and he made it to the Round of 12 at the NCAA Championships.
Such accomplishments might have seemed far-fetched to some who drew conclusions just from glancing at the short, skinny Mariacher while he was growing up outside of Buffalo, New York. He might not have looked like an Adonis, but the Mariachers are a wrestling family at their core. His father Matt and two uncles wrestled, as did his older twin brothers.
“The living room carpet was the best option,” he said of his earliest venue.
In high school Mariacher won states and took third at nationals, but his lack of size contributed to his light recruitment. A school that did show interest was Clarion University, coached at the time by one Teague Moore.
“He had the whole package,” Moore said. “He was a great wrestler, a very good student, everybody at his high school glowed about him.”
Mariacher eventually chose AU in part because a family friend, Kyle Borshoff (now an AU assistant coach), wrestled for the Eagles.
“Kyle was my workout partner freshman year, and he just whupped my butt almost every day for the entire season,” Mariacher said. “It definitely made me better, it showed me what I needed to work on and showed me that I had a long way to go to be able to compete at the level I wanted to compete at.”
As Mariacher pushes toward a national title, he is studying in the public communication master’s program at the School of Communication. Following two years spent working in the athletic department’s communications office, where he shot video and produced live broadcasts of sporting events, he’s turning his focus to the relationship side of the medium.
“I really like learning how certain people react to certain messages, and how that builds people’s perceptions,” said Mariacher, who is a graduate assistant to SOC professor Chris Palmer this semester.
Mariacher also remains devoted to his Christian faith. He participates in a weekly Bible study session, which he said grounds him and helps him stay focused on the important parts of his life.
Whichever career path Mariacher decides to follow—coaching wrestling still is in the running—AU’s director of athletics and recreation Keith Gill is sure he’ll find success.
“If you watch him in the wrestling room practicing he’s a grinder, if you see him in the communications area he’s working hard,” Gill said. “His intelligence and work ethic, coupled with being a very engaging and affable person, makes for a pretty impressive package.”