Conversation with State Wrestling Champion Nathaniel Pulliam

Brandon Kirchner, Sports Editor

In the past few seasons, the Rolla wrestling program has had quite some success, with multiple wrestlers placing in state competitions, and the whole team competing well in conference and district play. However, since 2007, has no accomplished was a first place wrestler in the state championship. That changed when sophomore Nathaniel Pulliam pinned Pacific’s Callum Sitek for the championship.

To become one of the best wrestlers in the state of Missouri, it takes more than just to wrestle during the winter season. That is why Pulliam partakes in club wrestling activities and off season workouts.

“In the off season, basically from March to November, I go to Columbia two to three times a week. It is called “Ironman Elite.” I train with national level athletes and other state level athletes to improve on my techniques. I also go to St. Louis a couple times out of the year to practice with opponents I might see throughout the season,” Pulliam said.

Wrestling is not just a physical match between two opponents, there are also mental aspects to the match. Pulliam focuses a lot on preparing mentally and physically for upcoming matches.

“There is a lot of emotions going on before heading into a big match. You pretty much just got to shut everything out and just be calm. There are a lot of superstitions out there, like why did I tie my left shoe today instead of my right first? Why did I do this instead of that? You pretty much just have to put in the work and the time to wrestle. I know how to wrestle obviously, I know I can beat anybody, I just got to focus on wrestling and I’ll be fine,” Pulliam said.

Without a good coach to guide an athlete, they will never reach their full potential. Luckily with Pulliam, he has full confidence in his wrestling coach Marty Hauck.

“I think compared to all the other coaches in the past, he is honestly doing the best. Basically, just his adversity, he doesn’t have an ego he sticks to, while other coaches do. That is a thing I don’t like about some other coaches, they have a thing they like and they set to that. With Hauck, he likes to change everything around. From my freshman year to my sophomore year, things were completely different on how we practice, warm up, our eating, the way we think about wrestling, our wrap up,” Pulliam said.

Pulliam takes part of many different sports, such as soccer and golf. However, wrestling is the hardest practices he is a part of.

“Wrestling in general is just a full body workout and I’m not saying soccer or other sports don’t have a hard work ethic as well. Wrestling though, you feel every muscle in your body being worked, there is no other ways around it, that is the real reason why you see other people do it and quit. The full body workout is the biggest thing about wrestling to me,” Pulliam said.

Only being a sophomore and already having a strong resume is quite an accomplishment. However, Pulliam hopes to build on his resume to continue wrestling during college.

“I plan to wrestle at college, preferably at Mizzou though. I do think I can achieve a D1 level so there are other opportunities for me at the collegiate level. Winning national tournaments in the summer, and hopefully making a world team are my future goals and plans. Until I can’t wrestle because of age or physical fitness I’ll wrestle my whole life,” Pulliam said.