NE Wrestle: You placed third at 132lbs in Class A as a freshman last season. Most of the time, that weight is dominated by juniors and seniors. What was your mindset going into the season, and how did you evaluate your freshman campaign?
Nick James: When I started wrestling at Kearney High, my coaches quickly found out that I was not afraid to wrestle with anyone. The mindset that I carry is that no matter who you put me up against, I’m going to find a way to compete if physically possible. For the most part I couldn’t have asked for my season last year to go any better. I think my state tournament could have ended a little better, but I was happy with it for the most part.
You’re a successful football player as well. How does your wrestling ability help you on the gridiron?
NJ: Wrestling is a physical sport, so when I step off the mat and onto the field, I don’t mind getting rough and giving or taking a hit.
Your team put in a lot of work this offseason in the form summer camps, open mats, and competition. What type of culture does your coaching staff foster to make that happen?
NJ: Our coaching staff does a tremendous job giving us opportunities in the off-season to get better. They have grown such a bond between all of our teammates that we just enjoy being around each other. That makes the work we put in very enjoyable.
You guys were the State Runner-Up to Millard South last year, and it looks like you’ll be in a battle with them this season again. What will it take for Kearney to win the team title?
NJ: We need state finalists, and champions. Last year we had no finalists. I think this year with five returning medalists we can do that, and possibly win a few state titles.
What personal expectations do you have for the season?
NJ: Everyone’s goal should be to win a state title. It’s what I have worked for and I would love to see myself at the top of the podium in February.