Van Valen Reflects on 100th Victory
February 01, 2018


Last weekend, George Van Valen (teammates call him Ian) recently won his 100th match during his four-year career at Alfred State. The construction management major from Ithaca, gives us some insight on his time as a Pioneer student-athlete.

Van Valen is 26-0 this season and is 101-21 in his career with 33 pins. He is also ranked #1 in the 184 lb. rankings of the NCWA.

How does it feel to be the first Pioneer to win 100 matches – did you know you were close to 100 victories?

When I first saw the post last Saturday after day two of the NCWA National Duals in Virginia it was a little surprising to see that I had already reached that goal of 100 wins. I had some good success during my freshmen season and I knew that I could definitely reach the goal of 100 wins. In my mind its always easier to win than it is to lose a match, but when I do have flaws and make mistakes just like everyone else in the world I work on fixing those mistakes until I get them right and then practice them over and over again until it's a habit. My coaches throughout my whole life have made a big impact on me from my pee wee coaches, club coaches, high school coaches, and now an unbelievable coaching staff for me here at Alfred State. To be the first Pioneer to ever win 100 matches is something that I will never forget and is something that all of the future wrestlers at Alfred State can look to achieve in their journeys.

What has been the key to your success this year?

I believe the key to my success this year is how high I have set the standards for myself and the goals that I look to achieve. The coaching staff of Rob Hirsch, Ian Paddock, Burke Paddock, and Donald Gugel are another huge key to my success this year, each and every one of the coaches brings something new to the table every practice and I always learn more and get better. These coaches also push me to my absolute limits and then further so I feel like I'm in the best shape possible and have an advantage over my next opponent.

The most important people in my life is my family and there isn't anyone else out there that has taught me more than my mother and father. My father has always been a key factor in all of this happening since day one of wrestling in pee wees and I can't thank him enough. Throughout all my struggles he has been there in the end to push me to the next level of my career and to take the next step in the direction that no one ever could in the program here at Alfred. When I came to Alfred State from day one I always knew that I could be a corner stone in the program and do something that no one else has and that was because of my father. My mother has also done so much for me and the program from posting pictures, coming to all my matches, helping me with my diet, and most importantly pushing me to go further with every step I take. I can't thank both of my parents enough for everything that they have taught me and supported me with throughout my entire life. My whole family has taken a part in this journey with me, and I am so grateful to have every single one of them involved in my life and wrestling for that matter.

What match during your career at Alfred State has been the most memorable?

The most memorable match during my whole career here at Alfred State was during my sophomore year at the national tournament. I had made it to the semifinals of the tournament and went up against a very talented wrestler who recently won the Pan AM Championships for the U.S. and was an alternate for the Olympics. I wasn't really nervous about the match, I was more excited because I said to myself "wow I got a chance to knock this guy off and make a name for myself". I ended up losing the match by only one point, but it was one of my best matches ever because of the plan and strategy I used to wrestle him, and how well it all came together. After that match a lot of small little things clicked for me that have lead to this great college career that I have had. I have had some other really tough matches throughout the four years but that match was definitely the most memorable for me.

What lessons have you learned during your time at Alfred State?

Some of the most important lessons that I have learned during my time at Alfred State consist of time management, dedication, and to never ever give up on yourself no matter how hard it gets.

Time management is one of the most important things that you have to learn at college. In my experience the bottom line is that if you don't get your work done and keep your grades up then you can't participate in sports at all.

The dedication that you have towards your goals makes you who you are today in life. When someone is dedicated and has the motivation to do anything the opportunities are endless for that individual.

The most important lesson that I have learned out of them all is to never ever give up on anything. This has really been a major key to my journey and has opened so many doors for me. There is no one on earth that is perfect, everyone makes mistakes, but it is the individuals that get back up on their feet and tackle the mistake or problem that have a bright future ahead of them. You can conquer anything if you just put your mind to it.

How are you going to use those lessons after you graduate?

All the lessons that I have learned from wrestling, working with my father, and being in the Construction Management major at Alfred State will benefit me in the future one way or another. Participating in wrestling and being in a difficult construction major at the same time has taught me so many things about how the real world is and how difficult it can be at times. I am happy that I did both during college. Doing well in school and wrestling were the ultimate reason I came to Alfred State. I was also able to have a social life and make friends that will last a lifetime.

How do you plan on staying involved with wrestling after graduation?

Alfred State was such a great pick of a college for me personally and I will always stay involved in the wrestling program no matter what, especially because of the young kids we have coming through the ranks.

My teammate Brandyn Whitacre, who unfortunately has an elbow injury that has been holding him back this year, is going to be the next key leader to this program. In my eyes he has all the tools to be the next great wrestler coming out of the program as well as all of the other young kids that have lots of talent.

I plan on being able to be at most of the tournaments next year and being there to support and help my fellow teammates that have helped me so much over the past years. I hope to always help the coaching staff at Alfred State and help out with whatever else the program needs to have a successful future in NCAA Division III.

I also live right next to the Cornell Friedman Center where I wrestled club all through high school, so I also plan on staying involved up there with the team as well in the future.

Your final home match of your career and the only home match of the season is Wednesday night (2/7) when your team battles Lycoming at 7 p.m. What are three reasons fans should come out on Wednesday night to see the Wrestling team?

1.) To support all of our seniors for their last home match of the season.

2.) To help bring in future wrestlers to Alfred Sate and to get the word out to make the program excel in the future to come.

3.) Wrestling is a sport like no other and things can get very exciting very fast which is always fun to watch for fans.