In Gavin Nye’s first match of the season, he admitted he was out of shape and wasn’t ready.
The Colorado State University-Pueblo heavyweight wrestler lost to Chase Trussell of Utah Valley University in a tiebreaker and dropped to 0-1.
In his next seven matches, however, the redshirt freshman was prepared to topple anyone who dared to challenge him.
Nye went 7-0, climbed into the NCAA Division II ranks and made it as high as No. 7 for the ThunderWolves, who are currently the seventh-best team in the nation.
“It shows that I’m putting in the work and putting in the time,” Nye said. “I’m trying to get myself as best as I can be in my freshman year. I have this year, my sophomore year, junior year. It’s all work, I’m just trying to make that work the best it can be.”
Tuesday at the Pack’s practice, that dedication was evident with his practice gear. It appeared as though Nye was hit with a Gatorade shower.
But it was sweat, which poured from his head and onto the ground, leaving a sizable puddle after a break.
“He reminds me of our freshmen All-Americans that we had back in the day,” coach Dax Charles said. “I pray to God that everything comes together for him on (Feb.) 23 so he can get the shot to wrestle on the big stage. It’s going to be tough for him but I think he can do it.”
Though Nye dazzled with his performances this season, he did have a slump that stripped him of his No. 7 ranking.
From Jan. 19-26, Nye faced a three-match losing streak, two of which came by a point.
The worse of the trio came against Adam State’s James Romero. The Pack trailed the dual 19-15 on Jan. 24 before Romero earned a 5-4 victory to give the Grizzlies the win.
“I felt like I let the team down,” Nye said. “It was in my hands and I lost by a point. But now that I’ve wrestled that match, I feel like if I wrestled him again, I’d be more ready and more confident that I could win.”
Charles said the coaches shouldered the blame for Nye’s approach to that matchup.
“We were coaching him towards one move and Gavin was able to defend and did that really well,” Charles said. “But we should have just let Gavin wrestle. He knows how to wrestle. We shouldn’t have put any restrictions on him. Right now he has a green light to go out and wrestle his style.”
Which he’s done, and to the tune of a three-match win streak.
Nye, who was named Pack athlete of the Week on Wednesday, earned a decision, major decision and a pin in his final three matches leading up to the NCAA Division II Super Region VI Championships in Kearney, Neb. on Feb. 22-23.
Having a 21-8 record this season certainly provided a necessary boost to Nye’s psyche.
Overcoming his late season lull supplied him with the competitive edge required to compete with the nation’s best.
“In wrestling you just have to push,” Nye said. “I’m just pushing for the edge and trying to get All-American.”
Chieftain sports reporter Marcus Hill can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @MarcusLHill.