On A Mission
Jan. 29, 2010
By Larry Watts
Nate Everhart has had a taste of two NCAA Championships. Now the Indiana senior heavyweight wrestler wants more.
As a sophomore, his first season wrestling at heavyweight, Everhart bounced back from foot surgery and qualified for the NCAA Championships with a 4-8 record. He won his first bout, suffered a loss in the second round and then was eliminated in the first round of wrestlebacks.
Last year, he took a 25-15 record, including a 6-2 mark in the Big Ten, into the NCAA Championships. In a random draw among the 33 qualifiers, he was forced into a pigtail (preliminary) match, where he defeated Penn's Trey McLean 11-5. But then he dropped his next two matches and was eliminated.
"I wasn't the happiest person," the Tinley Park, Ill. native says about having his name drawn for the pigtail match. "It didn't take much out of me because I had plenty of rest between that match and my first-round match later in the day.
"What bothers me is I got out of my game plan in the next two matches. Instead of wrestling to my strength, I was wrestling more to my opponent's style. I slowed down instead of picking up the pace. I don't think I was 100 percent there mentally."
Unlike many of the bulky opponents in his weight class, the 6-foot-1, 230-pounder says his speed and agility give him an advantage.
"A lot of these guys are heavier and slower," he says. "I like to push the pace and take more shots. For the most part, I believe I am just as strong as most of these guys. My biggest advantage is my speed and I try to take advantage of that."
The fact Everhart came back to wrestle in his sophomore year was a feat in itself. During a weightlifting session at the end of the summer, he dropped one of the weights on his foot and suffered a Lisfranc injury. In more common terms, that would be a dislocation in his midfoot.
"I had two surgeries, one to install the hardware to realign the foot and the second to remove the hardware," he says. "If was about 4-5 months of recovery and rehab before I could wrestle again.
"I thought it was going to be the end of my sophomore year, but I wasn't sure if the coaches wanted me to come back or take the redshirt. As the year went on, the team needed me at heavyweight, so the coaches and I decided I would step in at the start of the Big Ten season."
Taking a 4-8 record into his first NCAA Championships, Everhart probably didn't strike fear into too many wrestlers in his weight class.
"It's possible some of them thought I had gotten lucky in landing a spot and somehow squeaked through the system," he says. "But the guys in the Big Ten (where he took seventh) understood I had been injured. As the season went on and I was getting more matches under my belt, I felt like I was getting more in shape and wrestling more at a higher pace. It just happened to be a short season, but I don't regret it because I got the national experience."
But there is no overlooking Everhart this year. Currently ranked No. 6 nationally by InterMat, he will take a 16-0 record into the Southern Scuffle Dec. 29-30 in Greensboro, N.C.
"My aim is the national championship," he says. "I realize I have a lot of confidence and I believe I can wrestle with anyone. Just because some of them have had more international experience, I don't think that's an advantage. I just have to wrestle my match and as long as I can force guys to wrestle my match, I think I can fulfill my goal."
After battling to maintain his weight so he could wrestle at 197 as a freshman, Everhart is enjoying life as a heavyweight. He can now eat as much as he wants although he does try to stay away from greasy fast foods.
"The coaches knew I was struggling to make 197 and I wasn't as strong as I could have been after cutting so much weight," he says of his days as a 197-pounder. "Everyone has quickness and strength at 197, so cutting the weight was hurting my strength.
"Now my teammates get a little jealous of me when I'm eating. I hear the comments, but it's my privilege as a heavyweight to take a little extra. I try to be nutritional -- steak, potatoes and chicken breasts. An occasional pizza doesn't hurt.
"I try not to eat too much in front of the guys, especially when they're trying to cut weight, but sometimes I can't avoid it," he adds. "It's when I take that little extra that puts them over the edge."
A biology major who will graduate after the fall of 2010, Everhart plans to enter dental school, which will require another four-year commitment.
"I wanted to do something in the health care field," he says. I have always been interested in teeth and I like to see people with nice smiles. That's one of the first things I notice and I would like to improve that in people. I know it's going to be a lot of work and take quite a bit of time, but I think it will be worth it."
He is hoping to attend dental school in Indianapolis, so he can remain in Bloomington to help out with the wrestling program.
"It will give the guys in the upper weights someone else to practice with," he says. "I'm also open to wrestling with a club team if someone wants me. We'll just se how this season goes first."