LAKEWOOD — The 2013 Mat Classic XXV State Wrestling Tournament was a success for the Lakewood wrestling team which qualified five athletes for the event, with one of those five placing in seventh place.
Drake Mostellar, Jeff Harrison, Tristan Nelson, Tommie Mostellar and Allyson Lawton all made the trip to the Tacoma Dome on Feb. 15-16, but it was Nelson, a junior, who finished out his season in seventh place for the 285 pound weight class.
“This is my fifth year wrestling,” said Nelson. “I went to state as an alternate last year. I really wanted to wrestle on the mat and feel what that felt like so that was my goal all year — to wrestle at state.”
Although Nelson was the only Cougar wrestler to place, he wasn’t 100 percent certain that he would make it that far.
“I was sick there for a little bit and I was scared,” he said. “I try to keep it at one round at a time and I try not to get ahead of myself.”
His mid-season illness kept him from several meets and he only participated in 12 matches all year.
“He is a great kid,” said head coach Tom O’Hara. “This season’s been a little rough between a sinus infection and a hip problem. He’s only had 12 matches all season, so for him to get to state and place is great.”
Since Nelson is a junior, he has one more year ahead of him to wrestle for Lakewood.
“He’s always had promise, he’s always had strength,” said O’Hara. “Ultimately it just comes down to how he goes out for a match and where his mental state is. I want him to wrestle smart. If he’s top seven now, I hope he can make it to the top four next year.”
In his first match at state, Nelson lost to Olympic sophomore Umu Timoteo. He faced Timoteo again when wrestling for seventh and eighth place, and this time Nelson pinned him.
“That’s a real accomplishment, to come back and pin someone who pinned you,” said O’Hara. “He is a great kid who works hard during practice and listens to his coaches. There is not a person on the team who doesn’t love Tristan.”
Nelson is a three-sport athlete for the Cougars, who competed at the state track and field meet last spring and the state football tournament last fall. He is looking forward to making it to state for shot put and discus this year.
“I want to thank my coaches and my team,” he said. “They provide a lot of support, and my coaches are always cheering me on.”
O’Hara is proud of what Nelson has accomplished.
“Even though he is a junior, he is still a leader. Next year, instead of leading by example, he is going to have to take a more active leadership role,” he said. “He worked hard, he got somewhere and I’m proud of him.”