Two losses set this up.|
Craving a state championship, Mercer County 152-pound senior wrestler Zach Nelson had to endure two painful losses. Both happened in consecutive state championship bouts, with the second ending an undefeated season.
When it came time to reflect on the state championship he recently earned, Nelson said may not have happened without those two losses.
"It definitely motivated me to work harder," Nelson said. "I had to move forward and improve in everything."
What followed was a 45-0 season, highlighted by the Class 1A state championship. Nelson became the first Mercer County wrestler to win a state title, following that by being named the Area Wrestler of the Year by The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus.
-You showed some emotions after winning your state title. What was that moment like?
"It was all a blur. During the match, I was just wrestling. All of a sudden, the ref called the pin. I didn't know what to do."
-What was your favorite memory this season?
"Winning state. It was awesome. I'd never felt that before."
-Within the last 12 months, you won a football state title and an individual wrestling state title. Which accomplishment is the proudest?
"I was kind of picked to win wrestling. In football, everybody doubted us. I would say the football state championship."
-What is it like being an undefeated state champion?
"It's awesome that no one can say they beat me this year."
-Would you change anything about your wrestling career?
"I would have definitely worked harder after beating Bahrs (Sterling Newman's Brian Bahrs, who beat Nelson in the 2012 Class 1A 152-pound title bout) twice during the season, making sure it didn't come down to the last 15 seconds."
-What's next in your career?
"I want to look at some colleges and take a lot of visits (for wrestling). I want to pick what's best for me. My main focus is not letting anyone influence me."