Three-sport athletes aren’t as plentiful these days as they were in the past.
How about a four-sport stud?
That’s where Juanita High’s John Nascimento comes into play by putting his talent into the mix in the wrestling, football, track and field and rugby realms. At Juanita, the senior is a heavyweight grappler, defensive tackle/offensive guard and a shot-putter. On Saturdays in the spring, he mans the rugby pitch with the Eastside Lions club squad.
“I just love competing and so I just gotta make time for it,” he said after wrestling practice on Monday. He added with a smile that he finds time to rest on Sundays to tackle homework and attend church.
It’s all about wrestling these days, and the Rebel — who placed fifth at 3A state last year — sported a 12-2 record at press time.
Coach Dan Davis noted with a laugh that the 6-foot-2/285-pound Nascimento is a goofy guy who can turn on his serious side when it’s match time. He utilizes a lot of upper-body throws and dominates opponents with his size.
“(He’s) a more active heavyweight,” Davis said. “He likes to move, he likes to use his weight to his advantage and does a really good job of it, when he’s on.”
Davis was thrilled with Nascimento’s performance at a recent tri-state tourney, which featured the top grapplers from Washington, Idaho and Oregon. The Rebel beat two guys who finished third and fourth at the tourney before he was eliminated.
Nascimento — who qualified for state as a freshman — said he’s feeling great on the mat this season. To bring him to this point, he’s scraped from his mind last year’s triple-overtime loss in the state semifinals.
“That just brings back terrible memories. I don’t want that to happen again, so this year I got a stronger mindset, gotta attack more and not be such a defensive wrestler like I was last year,” he said.
With so many solid wrestlers waiting to be tangled with, Nascimento said he’s ready for the battles.
“I like going long distance,” he said. “I feel like I’m in pretty good shape for a heavyweight, so I feel like I can come out on top. Hopefully this year that doesn’t happen (lengthy matches), hopefully I’ll be pinning kids first round.”
Other top Juanita wrestlers are seniors Matt Moehrle and Nate Martin, who are both at 182 for now, and Moehrle — a state alternate last year — plans to drop to 170 for the postseason. King Kotalas, a 120-pound junior, and Braden McNeff, a 138-pound freshman, are also starring for the Rebels.
When Logan Heenan was a child, he remembers discussing wrestling with his dad and grandpa, who were both state high-school grapplers in Oregon. The senior Kang captain — who compiled a 17-5 record at 126 pounds at press time — is doing his best to follow in their footsteps, he said with a smile after Monday’s practice.
Before family dinners these days, he squares off with his dad and applies a wrestling move or two before sitting down to eat.
Coach Steve Becher noted that Heenan never quits and that’s why he snagged a district title last year.
“He’s a guy that just keeps going in and going in and going in, no matter what. Might be down, he just keeps battling back,” Becher said.
Added Heenan, who has been wrestling for six years: “I participate in cross country and track as well, but nothing quite like the wrestling atmosphere. For one, it’s a lot harder, but I think it’s just a great character builder and I think you just meet some of the strongest and most talented people that you’re gonna meet in high school doing this sport.”
He’s gunning once again to qualify for his first state meet and has been working hard on takedowns and other skills in practice to achieve that goal. Practices and meets are tough experiences, but he feels gratified and motivated when he comes away with a successful outing.
Heenan is not just reaching for stellar results, but he’s aiming to set a good example for his teammates and opponents.
“After my matches, I always thought, shake a guy’s hand twice, right? One of the things I don’t like to see is when people lose a match, they throw their head gear, they kind of get upset, right?” he said.
The Kang doesn’t want to hold onto grudges or make a big deal out of anything. He wants to be laid back and enjoy himself.
“When you talk about wrestling, it doesn’t sound that fun, like cutting weight and just kind of having your head get ripped on, but I always just thought it was fun,” he said.
Other top Lake Washington wrestlers are senior Hunter Giffard, a 138-pound state competitor and district champ last year with a 17-1 record at press time; sophomore Max Reisman, a 113-pound state alternate last year who will drop to 106; sophomore Elijah Lux, a 132-pounder who will drop to 126; and sophomore Marton Teichner, a 120-pounder.