Flashback to exactly one year ago: John Nascimento wasn’t a member of the Juanita High wrestling team.
Nascimento, who went 1-2 at the Mat Classic as a freshman during the 2014-15 season, decided not to wrestle during his sophomore season.
After a one-year hiatus, Nascimento returned as only member of the Rebels wrestling program to advance to the Mat Classic Class 3A state tournament. Nascimento and captured fifth place in the Class 3A 285-pound weight bracket at the on Feb. 18 at the Tacoma Dome.
Arlington’s Tristan Emrey beat Nascimento in the semifinals, winning a 3-2 decision in ultimate overtime. Nascimento and Emrey were tied at the end of three rounds and tied, 2-2, at the end of the second overtime period. Emrey pulled his foot free with four second remaining to win the match and advance to the Class 3A championship bout.
Juanita head coach Dan Davis was proud of Nascimento’s performance in defeat.
“The hand just slipped off the ankle,” Davis said. “That is the way it goes though. At this level, everything is close.”
“He’ll be back next year for sure,” Davis continued. “Obviously he is disappointed right now but these are the kind of things that will drive him next year for sure.”
Emery had nothing but respect for Nascimento following the grueling battle in the semifinals.
“He is pretty tough,” Emrey said. “I’m not going to lie. He was really good. He will probably win it all next year. He is only a junior. I’m really proud of him. He put up one hell of a fight and made it really challenging for me.”
Davis said Nascimento’s dedication to conditioning this season paid dividends at the Mat Classic.
“He was actually 300 during the football season and dropped the weight. Our practices are condition heavy and he always leads them,” he said.
Watching Nascimento place at the Mat Classic was an emotional experience for Davis.
“It makes me feel 18. It is crazy. I got goosebumps,” Davis said.