Meyer earns second boxing championship as team competes at nationals


Jen Hao Wong/Iowa State Daily

Olivia Meyer, junior in biology, practices with boxing coach Jon Swanson on April 1, 2014, in State Gym. She is going to compete in her first NCBA National Championships on April 3-5 in West Point, N.Y. 

Alex Gookin

The ISU Boxing Club’s trip to the National Collegiate Boxing Association’s national tournament in Sunrise, Fla. started off as a bit of a nightmare, with plane delays pushing the team’s arrival time just hours before weigh-in on the first day of quarterfinal action.

On little sleep and a stressful start, the boxing club still made it a memorable trip as four boxers claimed All-America honors and Olivia Meyer claimed her second consecutive national title in the 147-pound weight class.

Behind Meyer’s back-to-back championship run, fellow woman boxer Carolina Covington and men’s boxers Josue Avila and Daniel Megel each finished third in their weight classes to claim All-America honors for the club.

“Things went pretty well,” said coach Jon Swanson. “I think a few things could have gone a little better, but there’s nothing to be upset about.”

Especially for Meyer. In two years of boxing, Meyer has blown the competition out of the water, winning the first women’s boxing championship in ISU club history in 2014 before doing it again this year.

But the road wasn’t easy.

“This year was a tough year for her,” Swanson said. “We thought she broke her hand after last season, so she couldn’t train all summer. … We had to get back to fundamentals and get back to who we were and stick to the game plan, and she did that.”

After defeating Sam Glaeser of the US Naval Academy by a 3-0 decision at the regional tournament in Ames to qualify for nationals, Meyer entered as one of three women in her weight class. Swanson said some women chose not to enter in that class, dropping weight to avoid the tough competition that fighters like Glaeser and Meyer present.

So after being an automatic selection into the finals fight with so few in her class, she awaited the result of the other fight. Her opponent would be none other than Glaeser — a rematch of the regional title fight.

“That Navy girl game out with fire in her eyes. She wanted that belt and she wanted Olivia,” Swanson said. “We changed our strategy up and kind of neutralized it and came out on top.”

Meyer’s 3-0 decision to take home her second belt was the cherry on top of an undefeated season. But it wasn’t the only impressive performance at nationals.

Avila also had a nice run, defeating Marquis Craig of Penn State in a 2-1 decision before falling in the semifinals to the eventual champion, JJ Mariano of Nevada-Reno.

“A lot of people thought Josue won his fight against the guy from Reno,” Swanson said. “That guy went on to win the tournament at 139, so we felt like we had a good shot of winning that belt but it didn’t go our way.”

The third place finish marks Avila’s third consecutive All-American season as he readies for his senior season next year.

Swanson said Megel’s fight was also a close one despite the 3-0 decision and Covington’s first and final appearance at nationals ended in another close 2-1 decision. But with Covington, the lone senior on the squad, and a good chunk of experience returning mixed with a few incoming freshmen, the boxing club hopes to continue its growing presence in the NCBA.