Nick Boykin arrived in Fargo, N.D., as a Tennessee high school wrestling state champion.
He’ll leave as a potential Olympian.
The 285-pound Riverdale rising junior, who became the first Volunteer State athlete to win a Cadet Greco-Roman national championship Monday with a 16-6 technical-fall victory over California’s Gavin Nye, added a freestyle crown Friday with a 10-0 tech-fall decision over Zach Muller of Illinois.
He is the only Tennessee wrestler to win both Greco-Roman and freestyle championships at Fargo.
“We’ve had some great wrestlers,” said Jeramie Welder, one of three Team Tennessee coaches at the tournament. “Tennessee has some of the best wrestlers in the country. We’re just having a hard time building the Olympic styles. That’s the big thing. Everything (in Tennessee) is focused on folkstyle at a young age. We’re playing catch-up with a lot of these states.
“Nick’s style, the way he wrestles, his positioning is great. He’s a really good Greco wrestler, even though he’s new at it. He made a name for himself and represented Tennessee incredibly well.”
In a performance very similar to his run through the Greco-Roman bracket, Boykin won all of his matches by either technical fall or pin in freestyle competition with the exception of a 10-4 decision.
“I didn’t expect to just go out and demolish everybody,” said Boykin, who was making his first appearance at Fargo. “I knew it would be good competition. I wanted to do my best. It was really fun.”
Boykin’s tournament performance caught the attention of collegiate and national coaches – including Matt Lindland, who has worked with a number of wrestlers at the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs.
“Matt called me after (Friday’s championship match) and told me he’s got to work with him,” Welder said. “He was ready to get him out to Colorado tomorrow. He said he can be an Olympic champion if he wants to be. I agree with him. He’s that good, that talented.
“What he did is a really big thing for Tennessee. A lot of people may not realize it, but it is amazing what he’s done. He had one match that went the whole distance and he was still in complete control of it. I wouldn’t have expected him to walk over these guys like he did. He’s really god a lot of people talking. The buzz is out there.”
The 16-year-old is still trying to figure how to balance his new wrestling future with his high school athletic career – he’s a two-way lineman for Riverdale, which begins full-pad practice Monday.
“I’m going to play football, but my main priority is wrestling, after this tournament,” he said.
Along with Boykin, Father Ryan’s Eli King earned Cadet freestyle all-American status with his fifth-place finish at 138 pounds Friday. Ryan’s Trey Chalifoux will be a Junior freestyle all-American as well and will wrestle for seventh place in Saturday’s medal round.