With career now over, Virginia Tech's Jared Haught moving on to next phase of life

By Jimmy Robertson, Virginia Tech | April 09, 2018, 11:46 a.m. (ET)
Tech wrestler Jared Haught said the national title match loss still lingers, but he was thankful for the opportunity, as he now gets set on his graduation, wedding and future job

BLACKSBURG – By mid-May, Jared Haught will have earned All-America honors, become the wrestling program’s second national finalist, wrapped up coursework toward his degree in mechanical engineering and gotten married – all in a two-month span.

Such a list of accomplishments certainly warrants a celebratory beverage of the alcoholic variety following his nuptials to his longtime girlfriend on May 19. But Haught has avoided such temptations throughout his life – and sees no need to start now.

“Nah,” he said, smiling and adding, “I’m kind of cheap. I couldn’t stand to spend my money on that. I’d rather buy fishing bait or something.”

Joking aside, plenty of members of Hokie Nation are willing to hoist a toast in honor of one of the greatest careers in Virginia Tech wrestling history. Haught departed as a three-time All-American at his weight class, a two-time ACC champion, and one of just two wrestlers in program history to make it to the finals at the NCAA Championships when he did so on March 17.

Three weeks later, though, the loss to NC State’s Michael Macchiavello in the national title match at 197 pounds still stings. Haught beat Macchiavello twice during the season – once in a regular-season dual match and again in the ACC 197-pound title match. But a hard-fought, low-scoring affair at the NCAA Championships in Cleveland ended when Macchiavello took down Haught with just 10 seconds remaining, and subsequently held on for the 3-1 victory.

“I haven’t,” Haught said when asked if he had watched a replay of the match. “I probably won’t.

“Of course, I’ve wrestled the match tons in my head, and there are a lot of things that I would have done different. I don’t think I wrestled a very good match really, but then again, there is so much going on. There are a lot of people there, a lot of excitement, a lot of adrenaline, and if I’m being honest, I can’t remember the match. It’s tough to remember. Of course, I remember being in some positions, him being in some positions and stuff, but yeah, it was definitely a lot going on, and now I think it’s something I’m trying to forget.

“I’m sure someday I’ll look back and watch it just to show someone that I’m coaching that they can come back from a couple of losses to somebody and beat them. I can definitely use it in the future, but right now, I don’t want to watch it.”

Haught’s feelings may be raw for quite some time. After all, only he truly knows how much he sacrificed and worked to get to that point in his career in a sport that demands the utmost physically of any varsity sport that Virginia Tech offers – including football.

Plus, when Haught arrived on campus in the fall of 2013, he admittedly wasn’t very good. He wasn’t even good enough to be a backup, losing in a wrestle-off for the backup role and falling to third string in his weight class.

But the West Virginia native committed himself to being great, perhaps unlike any other. His offseasons consisted of running or riding the bike or lifting weights and watching every calorie. He refused to let himself slack off even on family vacations. He trained at every allowable moment, only stopping to meet the demands of his mechanical engineering course load.

After his redshirt season, Haught qualified for the NCAA Championships. But he finished the season with a losing record, so he worked to get better. He lost the ACC championship match as a sophomore, so he worked to get better. He finished in fourth place at the NCAA Championships as a junior, so he worked to get better.

In his last opportunity, Haught got to the championship match only to come up seconds short. Thus, he finds himself torn between disappointment at losing and gratitude to have the opportunity.

As he gets farther from the moment, Haught finds gratitude winning him over.
“Even after I lost, I was telling myself, ‘Just be thankful,’” Haught said. “Because this was a really cool opportunity, and I’m thankful to be there. A lot of things could have happened to me. I’ve had a healthy career. I haven’t had any major injuries. I really am grateful and thankful to be here. A lot of things could have gone wrong. Of course, I was disappointed in the outcome, but I’m still thankful for it. I know it’s going to help me out in life.”

For the first time in his life, Haught next step doesn’t involve wrestling. He and his fiancé, Morgan, were high school sweethearts and have dated for nearly six years. They get married on May 19, and then he begins a career in the workforce, having landed an operations position at the local Corning plant in Christiansburg.

To stay in shape, he plans on working out with former Tech heavyweight Ty Walz, who served as a volunteer assistant for the Hokies this past season and continues to pursue success on the international stage. Walz helped Haught throughout this season and his career, and Haught wants to return the favor, but Haught doesn’t have the same aspirations of pursuing international glory.

“I think I’d rather settle down a little bit,” Haught said. “I’ve achieved enough that I can be satisfied. Even if I would have come here [to Virginia Tech], honestly, and not placed at all, I’d still live with it. I’d be fine. It’s just that once you’re there [at the NCAA Championships], and you put so much time and effort into it, it’s tough.”

When Haught graduates in early May, he departs as one of just four three-time All-Americans in program history. He also departs with 97 career victories, including 30 this past season.

He badly wanted just one more, but he’s coming to grips with that. Besides, a honeymoon awaits, along with rest and food – as much as he wants. Life, indeed, is still quite good.

“I’m getting over it,” Haught said. “I’ve come to the realization that what’s happened has happened. It was a lot of fun being there at the tournament.

“I told my dad that I had a national championship experience. I got to walk out on the stage. I got to wrestle in front of tons of people. I was on TV. I got to do all this stuff that nobody ever thought I would do, and I beat him [Macchiavello] twice. I still feel like a national champ. It’s just not written next to my name.”