As Freddie Nixon stood on the podium he couldn’t help but reflect on every step along the way of his journey that got him to where he was. A state wrestling champion.
Nixon, a St.Joe’s senior, scored a 6-4 win over Matt Savarese of St.Anthony’s of Long Island to win the 195 pound championship in the NYS Catholic High School Athletic Association Championships that were held at St.Francis High School Feb.4-5.
“It made me excited because I thought about being a freshman,” Nixon said. “Thinking this sport is real hard and I’m gonna have to work hard to win a big tournament like this. When I did win I felt like I earned it and I deserved it.”
Nixon, who became the 18th Catholic state champion in Marauders history, scored three consecutive pins before getting to the state title match. Nixon, who is 49-1 with 36 pins this season, is now preparing for the NYS Federation championships that will take place Feb.24-25 at the Times-Union Center in Albany.
Not bad for a kid who went 0-4 as a varsity rookie during his freshman year at St.Joe’s.
Never one to throw in the towel, Nixon resolved that he was going to do whatever it took to become a better grappler. And that he was fully aware that there would be no shortcuts. It was a step-by-step process.
“I played football and I wanted to get better at football so I started wrestling. I’m never gonna quit at anything,” Nixon said. “I didn’t do so good freshman year, now I’m gonna do good sophomore year. During the off season work hard and having guys who beat me in All-Catholics be on my team just made me better. I worked with them the next year, like (two-time Catholic champ) Richie Jones and Abe Baker.”
While football seemed to come naturally to him, his freshman season on the mat made Nixon, who now had 109 career wins, realize that wrestling was a completely different animal. And that it would take a different level of focus to find success.
There were certainly no shortage of honors and accomplishments for Nixon in this his final year of scholastic wrestling. He took first place at the Byron-Bergen, Spencerport and Lockport tournaments. As well as first place at 195 at All-Catholics where he was also named the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association Wrestler of the Year.
Still the funniest and most outgoing kid in the St.Joe’s wrestling room, Nixon will still flash a quick smile or crack a joke to lighten the mood because that’s just who he is.
“I have to keep the same personality. That’s just me. I can’t change that,” Nixon said with a smile, “Working with different partners and better people that helped me become a better wrestler like I am now.”
Marauders head coach Pete Kennedy said that Freddie is still the first to make a joke and help make coming to the practice room fun. Kennedy also said when it’s time to work few can match Freddie’s level of focus and intensity. Especially how he carried himself this year and matured as a young man to become a senior leader that his teammate could look up to.
“When it’s time to wrestle there’s no joking around any more. He’s the last guy out of the room and he hasn’t always been that way,” said Kennedy. “This year he makes sure he makes sure he’s the last guy to walk out of any room. Nobody is gonna out work him.”
Nixon is headed to the Federation tournament with the mission of returning home with a second state title. But even if that dream doesn’t come to fruition it’s ok, because Freddie Nixon knows that he has already accomplished far more than he ever thought he could.
“My goal is to win it, but if I don’t then I figure all of the good stuff that I did this year paid off,” he said. “Because at least I made it to the tournament. And a lot of people can’t say that.”