Wildview with Nick Tewell

Tyler Schwarzman, Sports Editor

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It is hard to believe that the regular season for the MASH wrestling team will come to a close at the end of this month. Record wise, it is fair to say that this season has not been extremely successful. However, the Wildcats currently have a young, inexperienced team, and are showing great progress. Among this youth, star Sr. and F&M commit Nick Tewell has been pushing himself to the next level and is looking forward to another great showing in the postseason. Let’s get to know Tewell a little bit better, as an athlete, student, and person…

Q: How has the wrestling season gone so far, for both the team as a whole and you individually?

A: Though few in number, the wrestlers on the team overall are the most committed group in my 4 years on varsity. I am proud of everyone on the team and the dedication they have shown. The team chemistry is outstanding. Jr. Asa Brunk, Sr. Aidan Sheely, and Jr. Logan Ledebohm have all had outstanding seasons so far. I expect nothing less but for them to continue their success. As for myself, the season has been exactly what I had asked for. I wanted the most difficult schedule possible so that I could test myself, and I have done exactly that. Every week I have competed with state qualifiers and state place winners. Even though I have lost a few matches, the quality and challenge of the matches has really pushed me. It has opened my eyes and showed me areas in which I need to improve.

Q: What are your goals for this current wrestling season?

A: My goals for the current wrestling season are fairly simple. I plan to place within the top 4 in the state, reach 100 wins, and set the new school record for pins. I also want to be the best teammate, captain, and role model for my teammates and the younger wrestlers in the elementary and junior high programs. However, most importantly, my goal is to have fun competing in the sport I love.

Q: Was it difficult to have winter break during the middle of your season?

A: I always enjoy having winter break in the middle of the season. The break provides myself and my teammates time to “recharge our batteries” and allows us to enter the month of January feeling fresh. This is essential because the first few weeks in January are always the busiest part of the season. I also enjoy the break as it gives me more time to focus on my training since I don’t have to worry about going to school or doing homework.

Q: How does it feel to finally be committed? What were the best and worst parts of the process?

A: I can’t explain how exciting it was when I finally determined where I wanted to go to college and was ready to commit. The process for me was long and drawn out. I visited over 10 colleges, including 5 overnight Official Visits. I had coaches visit me in school and others call or email me on a daily basis. At times when I felt exhausted or just frustrated, I reminded myself that this is something that will only happen once in my life and I should enjoy it while it lasts. For me, nothing was more exciting than getting phone calls from coaches that I thought would only happen in my dreams. The worst part of the entire process was the “waiting game”. Often, I would have to wait weeks to hear back from some coaches, while others made offers at the Official Visit and were pressuring for a quick decision.  

Q: As a student who excels both in the classroom and athletically, how do you balance the two so well?         

A: I feel that the biggest driving factor behind my success is my competitive nature. No matter what I am doing, I want to compete to the best of my ability. I know that in order to do so, it comes down to hard work and making sacrifices. There are many weekends in which I do nothing but homework, as this allows me to have more time during the week to focus on wrestling. I often sacrifice spending time with friends or even sleep in order to excel in the classroom. I made the transition to wrestling year-round following my freshman season, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. In the offseason, I usually average about seven to ten practices a week and lift and run about five times in addition. During the season, I cut back on the practices to no more than seven and limit the lifting and running to no more than three times. However, the toughest part about balancing wrestling with school is the weight management. I find myself completely drained of energy especially towards the end of the season. For some strange reason, doing homework seems to keep me busy and distract myself from my hunger and thirst. There are times during the season and offseason that I want to ease up or just flat out quit, but there is such a competitive nature in myself that prevents me from doing so.

Q: Who has been your biggest inspiration?

A: My biggest inspiration has been a former club coach I had named Marat Tomarev. He was born in the Soviet Union and left his home country to come to wrestle in the United States when he was only 15 years old. He left his family and friends behind. After being one of the best wrestlers in the country in high school, he went on to wrestle at Penn State. There, he showed flashes of greatness, an obvious future national champion. However, a string of injuries hit him hard and by his senior year, his body simply wouldn’t let him compete anymore. Never wrestling a full college season, Marat retired from the sport in his early twenties and began to focus on coaching. He coached me from when I was 8 all the way until I was 14. When I first started at the club, I was the worst one in the room. However, for some reason, he always would work with me and help me. He taught me most of what I know today; I can attribute much of my success to him. I still see him on occasion. When I was going through a series of injuries myself, he was always there for me and constantly worked with me to remain positive. He has motivated me to make the most of the second chance he never got.

Q: What has been your biggest setback? How has it helped you grow?

A: My biggest setback by far occurred when I was in 7th grade. I fractured my L5 vertebrae in my spine. My doctor had told me there was a chance I’d never wrestle again. This was an absolute shock to me. I was fitted into a rigid back brace with metal rods down the sides of my left leg for months. Even after finally graduating from the brace, I experienced nerve damage in my right shoulder. The combination of these injuries caused me to need physical therapy during my entire eighth grade and early ninth grade years. During these times, I couldn’t play any sports or do any physical activities. I cannot put into words how tough this way for me to overcome. I had so much free time in my days, and I was constantly bored. I found myself quickly getting out of shape. I am grateful to have such a close support base around me that helped me keep focused on the positives and the future I had. For me, this was a time to focus on other areas in my life. I developed into the student I am today, and I really began to develop some new friendships. Finally, after 22 months, I was able to wrestle for the first time. Unfortunately, it was quite a discouraging experience. I went from one of the top wrestlers in the state when I was in 7th grade to having to battle for a starting spot as a freshman. I was winded after seconds on the mat and had so much ground to make up.My freshman season was a rude awakening for me. I was wrestling varsity at a weight class filled with juniors and seniors. I found myself losing more than I ever had before. However, I never got discouraged. I constantly reminded myself about all that I had overcome just to get this far and that my time would come.