Tomasello seeks rare third Junior Freestyle National ChampionshipNathan Tomasello wrestles during the Junior Freestyle National Championships in Fargo, N.D. John Sachs photo
FARGO, N.D. - Nathan Tomasello has enjoyed more than your average wrestler's success on the mat. The four-time Ohio state champion has won two straight Junior Freestyle National championships in Fargo and is back in 2013 in an attempt to win a rare third title.
"It's an amazing tournament to be at and I'd just be real happy to win it one more time" Tomasello said. "I'm just trying to enjoy it here, that's the most important thing."
The recent graduate of Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy won a Junior Freestyle title at 112 lbs. in 2011 and at 120 lbs. in 2012. He is wrestling at 120 lbs. again this year and has won all nine of his matches by technical fall so far, not surrendering a single point yet. Tomasello will wrestle Kaid Brock of Oklahoma in the finals.
"I know I have a big target on my back" Tomasello said. "I know I had to train real hard because everyone is gunning for me so I need to stay mentally strong. I'm working on m goals every day and staying focused."
Tomasello's decision to come wrestle in Fargo after graduating high school is one that many wrestlers of his caliber don't make. Tomasello already committed to wrestle for coach Tom Ryan at Ohio State and has won this tournament twice before but wanted to compete for his home state one last time at the Junior level.
"It's one of my favorite tournaments and I really enjoy the team aspect, being a part of team Ohio" Tomasello said. "I know a lot of people once they commit don't want to come back. It's the last time I get to compete in this tournament and it just brings back a lot of good memories for me. I wanted to give it a go one more time and give back to the state of Ohio wrestling."
Team Ohio coach and founder of the Burnett Trained Wrestling Club, Erik Burnett has helped coach Tomasello since he was in sixth grade and has seen the positive influence he has had on the Ohio state program.
"He loves wrestling. Any time you have a guy who is into a sport as much as he is it rubs off on others" Burnett said. "Nathan's gotten more outgoing recently in the last several months. He's a great teammate and I think a lot of kids on the team look up to him. It's huge when you're helping guys that are around you I think it's a big thing. But his love for the sport is what attracts people to him."
Burnett has seen the normally quiet Tomasello reall open up and reach out to other wrestlers more in the past year.
"He's very quiet but he's opened up a lot more" Burnett said. "It's not that he didn't want to help out other kids, but now he'll say 'wait a minute, let me see if I can help you or show you something I learned. I've noticed things like that in the past several months."
Recently, Tomasello was named to the 2013 ASICS All-American First Team, the second consecutive year he has received the honor.
"It's really amazing to get that kind of an honor twice in a row" Tomasello said. "It's honestly a dream come true. I know Logan Stieber was on that team and to be put in his class is amazing."
Tomasello will start his wrestling career at Stieber's alma mater, Ohio State, keeping his incredibly talented wrestling in the state of Ohio.
"I liked their Regional Training Center, their senior level program has like four of the seven wrestlers on the World Team this year which is pretty amazing" Tomasello said. "I just know a lot of the guys on their team and I felt like it was the right fit for me."
Another big factor in Tomasello's decision was his family.
"They have a huge influence on me and I really enjoy staying and hanging out with my family" Tomasello said. "They helped me make the right decision for college because I still want to be a part of their lives and still want to see them a lot so being only two hours away from home I can do that."
Tomasello is set to room with fellow ASICS All-American First Team member Bo Jordan.
"It'll keep me focused. I know he's a really big competitor and he stays focused all year round" Tomasello said. "That'll help me to keep improving. We'll bond and just be real close and influence each other to keep getting better in college."
Likely to redshirt his freshman year with the Buckeyes, Tomasello will focus on narrowing in on a major along with improving his skills on the mat.
"I'm looking into pre-sport's industry, so anything sports related" Tomasello said. "I'm getting into coaching or sports medicine or sports psychology. Right now I'm just kind of open to it, I just don't think I could go away from anything wrestling related."
Academics have always been important in Tomasello's life, as he graduated high school with a GPA over four.
"I know one day I'll be done competing and just moving on to get a good job" Tomasello said. "So it's important to stay I college for four years and staying up with your grades so you can raise a family and be good with your finances."
On the mat, Burnett believes the future is bright for the young wrestling star.
"I know he's going to continue to learn and I know if he continues to learn he's going to continue to win" Burnett said. "I think the future is bright for him because he loves the sport. When I talk to the guys that are really good, they can't ever get enough and they want to work out and they want to learn and it seems like those types of guys are always the ones having success. If the pattern holds the same then I see a lot of success for him at the next level."