A heaping plate of chicken alfredo set John Nascimento’s Saturday afternoon into motion and satisfied his appetite.
Many hours later, the Juanita High senior 285-pounder worked off that meal and feasted on senior Josiah Vaiolo of Wilson, 5-2, to win his first 3A state wrestling title at the Mat Classic XXX Championships at the Tacoma Dome.
“It was crazy. He’s a really big strong kid, and I just had to give him the best experience of my life,” he said. “It’s been amazing. It’s just been a great experience all throughout. Had some tough battles. Also exhausted, too.”
Nascimento, who took fifth at state last year, said that hard work in practices was key to his success and he thanked all his coaches for helping him along the way. Extra running and an extra shot of aggression put him on the course to glory.
As the seconds ticked away in the final, 6-foot-2 Nascimento — who attacked from the outset — protected his three-point lead and held off Vaiolo until the end. Sheer elation then took over and Nascimento pumped his chest and embraced his coaches and a bevy of well-wishers afterward.
Nascimento began his quest for glory on Friday with a victory on a pin at 3:29 over Orrin Brateng of Bonney Lake. He followed that up later in the day with an 8-4 win over Misa Marin of O’Dea. On Saturday, the Rebel gutted out a semifinal win, 3-1, over Joe Lawrence of Marysville-Pilchuck to reach the 9 p.m. final.
Juanita senior Matthew Moehrle took eighth in his first year as a state participant.
He dropped his first match, won two straight, lost another and then fell in the seventh-/eighth-place contest. His two wins were on a technical fall at 4:45 over Quinn Williamson of Roosevelt and on a pin at 55 seconds over Mark Meier of Southridge.
“I just had a lot of fun wrestling. It’s been my goal (to make state) for the past four years, so I’m just excited about being here and accomplishing what I set to do,” Moehrle said after receiving his medal.
Getting Meier in a headlock and pinning him was a huge moment.
“That was the most excited I’ve ever been to get that pin and see the look on my coach’s face,” Moehrle said.
He added that competing in the right weight class and putting in solid training with his coach brought him success this season.
“If you want something and you work hard enough, you can accomplish it,” he said.
Also for Juanita, King Kotalas grappled at 120 pounds and went 1-2, and Isaiah Eubanks competed at 220 pounds and went 0-2.