Independence’s Noah Adams celebrates by tossing his leg band in the air and shooting it down after winning a state championship in the 220-pound weight class against Wirt’s Mike Burns at the 70th Annual WVSSAC State Wrestling Tournament in Huntington. Adams, who was undefeated in his first season at WVU, was selected as the Hardman Award winner for 2020 as the state's Amateur Athlete of the Year.

MORGANTOWN — Noah Adams' perfect season didn’t have the perfect ending.

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic kept Adams from competing in the NCAA national championship tournament.

Before that, the 197-pound West Virginia University wrestler had racked up a 32-0 record and was named the Big 12 Wrestler of the Year and a place on the National Wrestling Coaches Association All-America first team. He was also a finalist for the prestigious Dan Hodge Trophy.

That came on the heels of a redshirt freshman season that saw Adams — a former Independence High School standout from Coal City and three-time state champion and Dutton Award winner — finish with a 19-15 record.

"Thank you to the West Virginia Sportswriters Association for selecting me as this year's winner of the Hardman Award," Adams said. "It's a true honor to be named as a winner of this award, alongside guys like Pat White, Tavon Austin and Greg Jones, who were all heroes of mine growing up in this state."

"His success is certainly deserved," WVU head coach Tim Flynn said. "While some people look at his record and his ranking and are shocked, believe me, if you saw what he did all summer, the amount of work he put in, how hard he trains, you wouldn't have that reaction at all."

Adams became just the second WVU wrestler to go unbeaten in a season. Greg Jones, a former standout and a two-time Hardman Award winner, did it twice. Adams won the Big 12 title with a 5-1 decision against South Dakota State's Tanner Sloan.

While it will never be known how Adams, a No. 2 seed, would have fared in the NCAA Tournament this season, the redshirt sophomore has been selected winner of the Hardman Award, given to the state Amateur Athlete of the Year. The award is named after the late A. L. (Shorty) Hardman, longtime Charleston Gazette sports editor/columnist. The complete list of award winners may be found on the website.

The award is voted on by members of the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.

Adams and Jones are the only two wrestlers to be honored with the award, given annually since 1934.

"My work effort has gone up and I've stepped it up in practice," Adams said. "I took my offseason work seriously and really worked on my conditioning. Those have been the big things I really wanted to work on heading into the season."

In winning the Hardman Award, Adams edged out WVU baseball pitcher Alek Manoah, Parkersburg South wrestler Braxton Amos, and Ripley distance runner Tori Starcher.

Manoah guided the Mountaineers to hosting a NCAA regional and was a first-team All-American and the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year after setting a school-record for strikeouts along with a 2.08 ERA and a 9-4 record. He was the 11th overall draft pick in the first round by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Amos, a 220-pound wrestler with the Patriots, won his third state title with an unbeaten record and was unscored upon as a senior. The first two-time winner of the Dutton Award as state Wrestler of the Year signed with Wisconsin.

Starcher broke state records in the 800- and 1,600-meters and also won the 3,200 to complete a three-year unbeaten run at the state meet. The Stanford recruit also set a meet record in the 1,600 at the prestigious Penn Relays.

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