PRESCOTT VALLEY – Trevor Nipper has 7 percent body fat, a menacing, although religious, tattoo, and raw strength and quickness that draws oohs and ahhs from the crowd.
And yet the Basha senior 220-pounder didn’t really start believing in his wrestling ability until this year, when he started knocking off undefeated opponents.
“He had just as much potential last year, but he didn’t believe he could do it,” Basha coach Mike Garcia said. “He was a gangly kid with bad balance when he first came to us, and it was like he still saw himself that way even though everyone was backing away from him because he is such a physical presence.”
Much of the doubt is gone. Now he steps on the mat, as he did Friday during the first day of action at the Division I state tournament, with a much more confident stride.
“I always struggled with the mental side of it,” he said. “It’s a tough thing to step out there, and then I started doing OK last year. I finished one match from placing (at state), and that really showed me if I believed it could happen.
“I quit football to concentrate on wrestling, and I really got a lot stronger, going from 180 to 210. That’s helps, too.”
Nipper (42-4) had two pins on Friday at the Prescott Valley Event Center to give him 37 on the season, increasing his school record, to move to the Division I state semifinals and assuring himself of placement.
He will face Cesar Chavez’s Jacob Lambert (37-1) in the semis.
With all that said, Nipper is not the most technical wrestler. He often looks to the corner to find what to do in certain positions that come natural to other wrestlers.
“He’s still learning,” Garcia said. “But he is winning, and beating quality kids, as he goes. He is just growing into his body, and if he found the right college coach he could really take off a couple of years from now.”
Nipper was one of several area kids to win both matches during the first day’s action and will take part in Saturday’s 11:30 a.m. semifinals with hopes of making the 4 p.m. championship matches.
Corona leads the team race with 101.5 points with Sunnyside (89) second, Cibola third (73), Mountain View (51) fourth, Basha (49) fifth and Desert Vista (43) sixth.
The Aztecs have nine semifinalists in Zack Kvavle (106), Cameron Upshur (120), Cole Bernstein (120), Bryce Nickel (132), Jacob Garcia (138), Hunter Carmona (145), Vincent Dolce (152), Brandon Konecny (160) and Nicholas Ruffalo (170).
The Toros are next with four semifinalists in Hunter Richards (106), Garrett Wolfe (152), Brock Doolen (182) and Jeremiah Hollen (195).
Joining Nipper from Basha are Alex Rodriguez (113), Ryan Roper (132), and Joe Carey (160), while Desert Vista has Brendan Gil (182), Chad Porter (195) and heavyweight Brett Johnson still in the championship bracket.
Other semifinals are Chandler’s Chris Kelly (106), Desert Ridge’s Alex Wood (120), Highland’s Tanner Waite (138), Skyline’s Nick Sanchez (152), Perry’s Travis Calloway (170), Highland’s Cody Bartz (HVY) and Skyline’s Kolo Uasike (HVY).
– Contact writer Jason Skoda at 480-898-7915 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda.