The deal with 2018 Junior World Team member Alston Nutter (63 kg, Sunkist/OTS) is that ever since he enrolled at Northern Michigan University (as a high schooler) nearly three years ago, he has preferred to stay busy.
There have been the numerous camps and tournaments overseas; the numerous camps and tournaments at home; the Junior Worlds this past fall, and of course, all of the schoolwork that comes with being someone who…you know, is also a serious student. That’s another facet of Nutter’s profile that doesn’t receive a lot of attention; he is in fact quite studious and an ardent classroom performer.
But as an athlete he is beginning to blossom, and part of that process includes what transpired for the 18-year-old during the winter. Along with ’18 Junior World Team Trials champ and close friend Benji Peak (67 kg, Sunkist/OTS), Nutter first traveled to Bulgaria for the Ivan Iliev Tournament, a U23 age-group event — and then hopped over to Hungary for that big-time training camp in which the US Seniors participated. It was, to say, a sizable step-up in world-class Greco-Roman education for Nutter, who discussed what that experience entailed as he prepares to try and make his second-straight Junior World Team later on this month in Las Vegas.
5PM: Let’s revisit the Iliev tournament in Bulgaria for a second. How disappointing is it to get a forfeit in the first round of an overseas event like that?
Alston Nutter: I was just like, I’m really glad I came all this way, paid money, trained, got ready, cut the weight, and now I get a first-round forfeit. I was just really bummed. I went over there to get better, to wrestle foreigners, and I get a first-round forfeit. I was like, Dang, I really wished I could have gotten that match in because I know that every match over here counts, because I know I have to get better at wrestling these guys.
5PM: You wrestled Miljan Djukanovic (SRB) next and there were a couple of instances where you certainly appeared to have been jiffed on points. There was a takedown at the edge that was ruled a step-out and probably should have been two or four — and a headlock that should have been a correct throw.
Nutter: Yeah, I know what you’re talking about. We should have thrown the (challenge) block on it, but Benji didn’t know if he should or not because we were playing it safe. And obviously, I didn’t know what to do in that situation. But yeah, I think I should have gotten four for that, in my personal opinion, but that’s the way the match goes. The refs called it like that.
5PM: For you personally, and you’ve obviously had a lot of international matches already, is part of gaining competitive maturity and experience learning how to not let calls affect you?
Nutter: Yeah, 100%. You always have to expect the unexpected. You have to be ready for when the judge, chairman, and the officials make a call you weren’t expecting. You still have to be ready to go. You want to be prepared for them to make a call you’re not expecting, because, it’s going to happen.
5PM: After this tournament, you moved on to train with the Seniors in Hungary at that well-known camp that is always hyped up. It’s an important and popular camp full of high-level athletes from a variety of nations. What was your first takeaway regarding just how the camp was orchestrated?
Nutter: It was super intense. We did live wrestling and live matches every day. One thing is that it definitely helped my mental toughness a lot. It also helped my mindset going into things, Don’t stop until they say it’s over, which correlates back into matches with the whistle blowing and everything. I also think that it helped me stick to the things that I’m good at, especially stemming from how intense and high-level the camp was. It just really formulated my offense and my approach going into wrestling. I learned quite a bit from it.
5PM: How about the partners? I’m guessing you got a lot of looks from really good foreigners.
Nutter: They were great. I was wrestling with literally some of the best guys in the world. I learned a lot of great moves and just great wrestling from those guys. I can’t put it anyway else.
5PM: Are you pulling double duty, are you going to enter the Senior Open as well as the Junior Trials?
Nutter: No, I am just focusing on the Junior Trials and make that World Team. That’s my main focus right now.
5PM: Is there any kind of difference in your mentality this year as opposed to last, given that you have already made this Team and you know what the process looks like?
Alston Nutter: It’s nice to know where I’m at as far as the facility and how the tournament works, and it’s also nice just to have the experience in terms of winning and handling myself there. I know to take it one match at a time, to respect everyone, and that every match is going to be tough. It’s nice knowing what I need to do.