Published in The News-Herald
January 27, 2020
Rising off the wrestling mat, Nick Nastasi gave a slight fist-pump after his 3-1 sudden victory in the finals of the Grizzly Invitational Tournament in Wadsworth on Jan. 25.
Many didn’t notice the match, as it was at the far end of the gymnasium and it wasn’t for the tournament championship, but rather for fifth place.
Some might have considered a fifth-place match in a midseason tournament as being a “small victory.”
When an athlete has been through what the Kenston senior has been through, there are no such thing as small victories.
Nastasi has been through two shoulder surgeries and 18 months worth of rigorous rehabilitation that robbed him of a year-and-a-half of his favorite sport.
There was a time when Nastasi dreamed of a Division I wrestling scholarship. There was a time the junior high state tournament runner-up envisioned himself being on the top of the high school state podium, perhaps multiple times.
Now Nastasi has two goals — walking away from his senior year of wrestling on his own terms and not on the injury list, and living an adult life without chronic shoulder pain.
He is well on his way to achieving both goals, holding a 27-4 record for the Bombers in what he says is his final year of wrestling.
“Even if I did get a college offer, I don’t think I’d take it,” Nastasi said. “I had a long, hard talk with my family. It’s not worth the risk of a third surgery. My shoulder wouldn’t last four years in college wrestling, so I think this is it, no matter how it ends.”
Anticipation was high for Nastasi in 2018. He was coming off a freshman season in which he went 34-7, with two off his losses coming in the Division I state tournament. He was carrying a 29-3 record into his sectional semifinal bout against Solon’s Trysten Zahoranksy when his wrestling career went off the rails.
Throwing in his patented left-arm underhook, Nastasi felt his shoulder rip and come out of place then pop back in. After taking injury time, Nastasi returned to the semifinal mat and his shoulder popped out and back in again.
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