Prep wrestling: National success helps build Nash's confidence
For a guy who feels it's important to be a gentleman and make people smile, Taylorsville's Roy Nash certainly is a beast on the wrestling mat. The junior is undefeated this season, but his record only begins to tell the story of how good Nash really is.
Nash burst onto the scene in a big way nearly six months ago at the ASICS/Vaughan Junior & Cadet National Championships in Fargo, N.D., where he claimed titles in the freestyle and Greco-Roman events. The wins immediately catapulted him into the upper echelon of wrestlers in the United States.
The crazy part: Nash wasn't even at full strength, having suffered a torn ACL and meniscus and a partially torn MCL a year prior. The injuries cost him his sophomore season.
"He's one of those incredible people that only come along once every so often," Warriors coach Wayne Watts said. "I'd like to think this is the type of kid to go on to be an Olympic champ. He's that type of kid."
While the goal of qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games is on Nash's radar, he has the more immediate goal of qualifying for the 2013 FILA Wrestling World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
"I'm so excited to be able to compete for USA now," said Nash, who didn't start wrestling until four years ago as a seventh-grader. "I've competed for Utah [at nationals], but to be on a world level shows that my hard work is starting to pay off."
Though he recognizes he is a naturally gifted wrestler, it's Nash's mental approach that he feels was his most important asset at nationals, and it's what Watts feels is the junior's best trait.
"As great as he is at technique and as great as he is at conditioning and his work ethic, I'd say the No. 1 thing is his mental game," Watts said. "He is just so there mentally in a way that just few people are. He knows what he wants to do and goes out and executes."
While Nash is dominating his opponents in the high-school ranks so far, he sees the experience not as a downgrade compared to national competition but rather as a good confidence builder.
"I've been at a higher level and now coming down here, I know what I'm capable of and I know that I can perform at this level," Nash said. "There's still challenging matches and there's still some great competition here in Utah."
Nash, who boasts a 4.0 grade-point average in the classroom, is hoping to claim the state title in the 220-pound division while continuing to display his gentlemanly nature off the mat.
"I see guys at the tournaments that are really cocky and all full of themselves with a big head and I'm like, 'That's not who I want to be,' " Nash said. "I want to be a gentleman. I want to be the best person I can be and then add wrestling into that."