Fennimore’s Alston Nutter made the most of his opportunity at the Malar Cup of Greco-Roman at Vasteras, Sweden, earlier this month.
Nutter, a sophomore, won a silver medal in the Cadet division at 58 kg. Tyler Dow of Stoughton also won a silver medal at 69 kg.
Two rising stars from Colorado won gold medals in the UWW Cadet division and the U.S. won six medals overall en route to a third place finish.
Nutter planned to represent the Golden Eagles on the gridiron this fall, but a visit to the U.S. Olympic Training Facility in Colorado Springs changed those plans.
“When I went out to the Olympic Training Center I talked with one of the USA Wrestling Greco-Roman coaches,” Nutter said. “He asked my coach and I if we wanted to go [to Sweden].”
The U.S. wrestling team’s gain was Fennimore football’s loss.
“As soon as I heard that I knew I was going to put all my time to wrestling now the rest of my life,” Nutter said. “Those are my goals and I am not going to take the risk in other things to end my goals.”
Nutter and his club coach at Combat Wrestling, Lucas Steldt, began their training shortly after returning from the U.S. Olympic Training Facility. Steldt also serves as a coach for the Wisconsin Wrestling Federation Greco-Roman National Team.
“My coach and I cycled it,” Nutter explained. “We started out training twice a week, just me and him drilling. Then about a month-and-a-half out – at the beginning of September – we brought in partners. Then we started to go three days a week, then we went four days a week.
“As it went on, obviously, it got more and more difficult. Pretty soon we were just wrestling live pretty much the whole practice. We would have days of technique and that, but we would lift every single day.”
Nutter added gymnastics to his training repertoire prior to competition in Sweden.
“It helped a lot with my shoulder flexibility,” he said. “I can arch tighter, which gives me more powerful throws.
“The air awareness and body awareness helps on throws, so if I would get thrown I can land in a spot that I am not in danger. Really it helps quite a bit. I know where I am at in the air when I am flying through the air, which isn’t what is supposed to usually happen.”
Nutter was welcomed by a host family while in Sweden. He couldn’t help but notice all the homes in his host family’s neighborhood were identical on the exterior.
“We got a little bit of Swedish culture over there,” he said. “I ate a bunch of food over there. They have a lot of Powerade over there. That is their drink. My host mother made eggs, then she made us some meatballs one night and some chicken and Swedish stuff like that.
“The chocolate is good too.”
Overall, the USA team tallied 20 points, behind only the champion Huddinge BK club with 32 points and Team Nyland with 20 points, which won the tiebreaker by having more silver medalists.
“Alston trained alongside some of the world’s best athletes. He also made new life-long friends,” Steldt said. “Fennimore should be proud of their representation at the international level. Alston conducted himself at a professional level and was everybody’s friend by week’s end.”
Nutter wrestled to a 6-1 record, pinning Anton Holk (Marsvinsholm IF), Ferouz Shah (BK Orion), Isak Bo Romes (Fauske Atleklubb), Dosjayev Magomed (Belgium) and Mohammad Amiri (Orgryte BF). He defeated Oliver Eriksson (BK Loke) by a 8-0 technical fall.
“I didn’t think that was going to happen,” Nutter said of his performance. “I thought some of my matches were going to be real tough.”
Nutter’s only blemish came in the championship, a 14-5 technical fall loss to Vusal Karimov (BK Orion).
“I should have beat him. I should have had him pinned,” Nutter said. “There were so many opportunities.
“I was up 4-0 going into the second period and had him on his back for almost the whole period. What I should have done was got to my position and went for a passivity call on him. If he doesn’t do stuff he gets a warning and then later I get a point. I should have in my position, put him in the zone and held him in there. I could have wrestled the match out and definitely won. But I went for some stuff and it just didn’t work and I lost.
“I learned a lot from it.”
“Besides training with athletes from different counties, the competition was just as educational,” he said. “Alston did pretty well but his lack of experience cost him in the finals. He made two small positional errors that cost him the match.
“Alston did have a few chances to put the match away with a pin/fall but he’s an American not in America. But the loss was good. This is all developmental – training, preparation for his aspirations. When you win you don’t study the errors you watch the highlights. When you lose you study the errors. You get better and you grow.”
Nutter also learned a lesson about the world around him, as he witnessed Syrian refugees in Sweden.
“That was pretty crazy,” he said. “It is crazy to think that is what is going on in the world. It really taught me a lesson – I should be really thankful for where I live and the country I live in.
“It was a good experience. I learned a lot, I got to see the rest of the world and what is going on over there. Even as far away as Sweden is from Syria, the situation there affects everybody over there.”
The experience was also an eye-opener for Steldt.
“I read some about it, but seeing it firsthand leaves a different idea in your head,” he said. “I know Alston was taken back by it. I was too. To see families sleeping on their kids to protect them was heartbreaking.
“I know there’s been a lot of bad things going on with the refugee crisis but I saw families scared like I have never seen scared before. I think we all could use some reality. A little hunger, a little thirst, would do all of us some good.”
Nutter will now turn his attention to Fennimore’s upcoming season, but the Las Vegas Junior World Team Trials loom next year.
“I am still a cadet right now but I will wrestle up for that and try to make a team,” he said.
At this time last year, Nutter had yet to wrestle a match as a member of the Fennimore wrestling team. He has since won a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 3 state championship, finished second at the USA Wrestling Cadet Greco-Roman National Championships in Fargo and now second at the Malar Cup of Greco-Roman.
“I had no idea that a lot of this stuff would ever come but I just kept wrestling and opportunities came and I accepted them,” Nutter said. “I took it one day at a time. You can’t over-analyze.”