ATHENS – Nate Morse is a few wins away from guaranteeing himself a spot in the WIAA state individual wrestling meet for the first time in his high school career.
But the pressure of competing in the Division 3 sectional meet in Bonduel this weekend doesn’t seem to be getting to the Athens sophomore. Or, he doesn’t seem to be showing it.
“I feel like I have a little bit of pressure on me, but I just take it as it is,” Morse said. “I just want to go out and have fun with the sport.”
Athens wrestling coach Dale Westfall said that’s the approach Morse has taken throughout a season in which he has posted a 28-3 record and captured a Marawood Conference and regional titles the past two weeks at 138 pounds. Morse is ranked seventh in Division 3 at his weight class.
“He is very calm. He doesn’t let pressure or stress get to him,” Westfall said. “He is just like, ‘Well, I have never been (to sectionals) before, so I might as well go and give it a try.’ That’s his attitude.”
Morse finished second in the Marawood Conference at 132 pounds last year, and was pinned in his opening match of the regional.
Last Saturday in Auburndale he pinned Stratford’s David Marquardt at the 3 minute, 10 second mark of the 138-pound title match to move a step closer to the state tournament.
He was one of three Bluejay wrestlers that advanced to the sectional meet, joining Tucker Roesler and Austin Engel.
Westfall said Morse, who has been involved with wrestling since pre-kindergarten, is both strong on his feet, but also someone who can move well against his opponents on the ground.
“He is very hippy,” Westfall said. “He just uses his hips very well and can get himself out of some bad positions real quick. If you haven’t wrestled someone like (Morse) before, it can be very difficult.”
Just talk about how well the season has gone with you moving on to the sectional meet and closing in on a state berth: This year I stepped it up a little. I’ve been working more than one practice a day just to see if I could get a little bit further.
You came up just short of the sectional meet last year, getting pinned in the first match at the regional. How did that motivate you? It’s really hard to take the loss (in the regional), but it just makes you want to work that much harder the next season.
What has been the biggest difference for you. How are you a different wrestler from last year: One of the biggest things is that I feel a lot more dedicated. I just felt I had the opportunity to do more than last year, get my name out there more. Mentally, I’m very strong (this .year).
Have you been down to watch the state meet, or do you not want to attend it until you qualify? No, I’ve been down to watch it the past couple years. (The atmosphere) is exciting, especially in the finals. To get there this year (as a qualifier) would mean everything.
Everyone has the state tournament as a goal, but has any part of your success this year been a little more than you expected? (State) was the goal, but I really wanted to get to at least sectionals this year.
Tim Johnson can be reached at 715-845-0731. Find him on Twitter @timmyjo11
• School: Athens
• Year: Sophomore
• Sports: Wrestling, football, track
• Family: Father, Stu; mother, Karen; brother, Luke; sister, Courtney.
• Favorite movies: Probably war movies. I just saw ‘American Sniper’ that’s a great movie.
• Prematch music choice: I’m more of playing strategy games on my phone (before matches) just to keep me occupied and not thinking just about wrestling.
• Go-to move as a wrestler: I have a couple, one is the ‘Ellenbeckers’. It’s one that’s known in Athens — it’s a takedown/pin combination
• Post high school plans: I would like to go study engineering and maybe join the Army.