Junior Nelson excels on wrestling team
By Amelia Spence, Reporter
Many high school students are involved in one sport or another, but not many can say that they’ve been participating in it since the first grade. Junior Ryan Nelson is one of those few, having started wrestling at the same time he started grade school.
With Nelson’s extensive history in the sport, it’s easy to track his growth.
“He’s become more vocal and his sense of humor has blossomed,” head wrestling coach Anders Blomgren said. “I think he’s more confident as a person and as a wrestler, especially as he’s growing into this body and he has such an explosive arsenal of offensive moves.”
Nelson’s many years in the sport have paid off. He went to state last year, winning one match and losing two. Over the offseason, he was one match away from placing at state in the freestyle and Greco categories. In addition, he came in the top three at the Rock Tournament.
However, this success hasn’t come without challenges.
“It was hard, getting to know the sport and how hard it is,” Nelson said. “How much work you have to put it in to be good and have it pay off.”
Teammate junior Ethan McIntyre noted how well Nelson works through these challenges.
“Ryan brings a lot of hard work and positive energy. He really makes everybody try their best,” McIntyre said. “If he has a goal, he’ll go really hard to reach it, and he’ll help anybody else get to their goals.”
In addition to the competition, a core element of being on the wrestling team has been the sense of community.
“There’s definitely a lot of people in the wrestling community on this island and even off this island,” Nelson said. “PL and Anders are just great role models to me and fun to be around.”
Anders Blomgren echoed this sentiment.
“Our Vashon Wrestling community is so awesome. It’s like a big family,” he said. “We have tons of support and genuine friendships… It’s a really special thing. We have a ton of selfless coaches and people in our community who help with the Rockbusters, Mustangs, and Pirates, and our Freestyle Wrestling Club.”
Coach Per Lars Blomgren also reflected on the team’s unique nature.
“We have a very eclectic group on the team, where our ages and skill levels vary a great deal. We all get along well, however, as hard work and quirky speeches typically create tight bonds among people,” Per Lars Blomgren said.
Specifically, Nelson mentioned how his relationships with his coaches have helped his growth as an athlete.
“They’ve been my coaches since I’ve started wrestling,” he said. “They’ve definitely taught me to be a better person and… just do my best. I definitely look up to them.”
Anders Blomgren felt similarly about Nelson.
“Ryan is such a fine young man, an amazing person,” he said. “He’s funny, kind, caring, and he is confident without being cocky. Ryan is a good wrestler— and he’s gonna be great — but he’s an even better person.”
Reflecting back on his wrestling career, Nelson had words of advice for those considering joining the wrestling team.
“Don’t overthink it. It’s not like what … people say it is,” he said. “It’s not about losing weight. It’s not about our singlets. It’s not about us wrestling other dudes. It’s about hard work and being tough and just doing your best.”