Wheeling Park’s Nash to wrestle at West Lib

WHEELING — Growing up in Triadelphia, John Nash always knew what he wanted to do after high school. The Wheeling Park senior matman realized that dream Friday afternoon.

Surrounded by family members and coaches, Nash signed his National Letter of Intent to attend West Liberty University where he will continue his academic and athletic careers.

“It’s close to home … only 20 minutes away. It’s where I’ve always wanted to go,” he said of the hilltop campus. “This fulfills a lifetime dream.”

The 17-year-old, who has been wrestling for nearly his entire life, has scripted quite a three-year career with the Patriots. He is 106-25 thus far for head coach Clay Tucker. However, 15 of those setbacks came as a freshman when he won 35 matches and placed sixth in the state and seventh in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Ron Mauck Tournament.

Since then he has won back-to-back OVAC championships while sporting a superb 71-10 mark. After claiming his OVAC title as a sophomore, he contracted mononucleosis and missed the remainder of the season. Last year after backing up his OVAC title, Nash won the Region I Tournament and seemed headed towards a W.Va. Class AAA title. It wasn’t to be, though, as he dropped a one-point decision in the semifinals before battling back for third place, finishing 46-6.

“Winning the OVAC three times would be nice, but my main drive this season is to win the state,” Nash admitted. “That’s a big goal for me. It’s something to push me this year.”

Nash said he looked at Wheeling Jesuit University, West Virginia and Ohio University before selecting the Hilltoppers.

“It was my best offer and my best chance to step right into the lineup,” he said of the decision. “They also had what I wanted to major in (business).”

Tucker, a four-time OVAC champion at Martins Ferry, thinks Nash made the right decision.

“I think John was looking for a program that wanted him and one that he could step right in and compete. I think it’s a great fit for him academically, as well.”

Tucker also likes the drive that his standout has this season.

“That (semifinal) match could’ve went either way,” the head coach recalled of last year’s state tournament in Huntington. “Sure it plays in the back of his mind, as it does with us coaches, but in the long run maybe that was a good thing. Hopefully, we can get him back on track this year and he can get that state title. It’s a drive for him every day in practice,” Tucker continued. “I don’t think he needs a driving force, but it’s always good to have one.

“Coach (Mitch) Smith is doing a lot of the right things to get his program back on track and this is one of them.”

As successful as he has been on the prep level, Nash knows all too well that the college level will be different.

“I’ll have to work on my hand-fighting and get better on my feet,” he noted. “My strengths are on my feet and in the top position.”

Nash is the son of John Jr. and Pamela. He has a sister, Cheyenne.