It's difficult to rattle The Classical Academy wrestler Nathan Johns.

He smiles when things don't go his way. He doesn't hang his head, sulk or mope around. He doesn't like to focus on the negative things.

Win or lose, he always knows there's more to life than wrestling.

His strong Christian faith has helped him through the tough times.

So when he beat Glenwood Springs junior Amos Wilson in the Class 3A 182-pound final over the weekend and became a two-time state champion, Johns pointed to the sky.

His high school wrestling career was over.

And he's fine with that.

"I never imagined the Lord blessing (me) with two state championships," he said. "I never saw that coming."

His performance at the Pepsi Center in Denver earned him this week's Gazette Preps Peak Performer honor.

Throughout all the awards, accolades and state titles, he's kept God first. When he lost three years ago in the state final, he smiled and started his campaign to make a return to the state's biggest stage.

Last year, he won his first state title after beating Valley's Josh Flanagan on a last-second reversal.

This year, Johns was dominant. Though he had a late start to the season because of a knee injury, he went undefeated until recently. In his match against Air Academy's Brady Badwound during a dual earlier this month, Johns lost on a takedown as time expired.

But Johns was all smiles.

He congratulated Badwound — who took third-place at 182 in 4A this past weekend. Johns implied that it was a good thing that he suffered the loss, saying it was "better to do that now than at state."

And he proved that at the state tournament, though it wasn't necessarily an easy path.

After he pinned Sterling's Tale Green, he edged Montezuma-Cortez's Swayde Noyes 3-0 and Platte Valley's Colton Moore 3-1 to get to the final. And in his final prep match, Johns came away with a 6-1 decision to finish his season with a 35-1 record.

"He's turning the page to the next stage of his life," TCA coach Sean Collins said earlier this season. "Maybe this is the end of his high school wrestling career, but he's transitioning to his next opportunity and he'll see what's the next door the Lord will open up for him and go from there."

And now, Johns has college on his mind.

He's not planning to wrestle at the next level. He's focused on his grades, considering he hasn't gotten anything other than an "A" since kindergarten. He believes he will continue this trend as he hopes to study electrical engineering in college.

But when he looks back at his high school career, he knows he did his best.

"All the work I put in was not a waste," he said.


Just the Facts

Nathan Johns, The Classical Academy

Sport: Wrestling

Weight class: 182

Highlights: The senior completed his high school career with back-to-back state titles over the weekend, topping Glendwood Springs junior Amos Wilson with a 6-1 decision in the Class 3A 182-pound final at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Wilson entered the match with a 48-0 record, while Johns finished the season 35-1. His lone loss this season came against Air Academy's Brady Badwound, a 4A wrestler.

Favorite athlete: Sean Collins (his coach)

Favorite song: "Blessed Be Your Name"

Favorite school subject: Math and science


Other Top Performers

Boys' basketball

Brycen Scherr, Coronado

The junior's play led the No. 44 Cougars to two upset wins last week in the Class 4A state tournament. This included a 22-point performance in a 59-56 stunner over No. 12 Palisade to reach the round of 16 for the first time in about 15 years. In the playoff opener, Scherr was one of three Cougars who scored a team-high 14 points to go along with 11 rebounds in a 66-62 triumph over No. 21 Rifle.

Eddie Whitmore, Sierra

The senior scored 23 and 20 points, respectively, in wins over Sand Creek and Pueblo West last week to help lead the No. 27 Stallions to the round of 16 in the 4A state tournament. He also had eight rebounds, two assists and two steals in the 74-65 triumph over Sand Creek in the first round. The Scorpions went on to upset No. 6 Pueblo West, 64-56.

Girls' basketball

D'nae Wilson, Sierra

The junior exploded for 28 points and surpassed the 1,000-point mark in her career in a 72-53 win last week over Sand Creek to lift the No. 17 Stallions to the round of 16 in the Class 4A state tournament. It topped her 16-point performance in a 54-41 win over Cheyenne Mountain in the opening round. She also combined for 15 rebounds in those victories.

Serin Dunne, Mesa Ridge

The junior guard had 20 points  including a pair of 3-pointers  to go along with six rebounds and four assists in the No. 9 Grizzlies' 69-47 win over Thomas Jefferson in the second round of the 4A state tournament. It was the 16th time that Dunne has scored at least 20 points in a game.


Brady Hankin, Woodland Park

In his first state tournament appearance, the freshman dominated. He pinned his opponent, Alamosa's Davion Chavez, in the first 30 seconds of the second round in their Class 3A 106-pound title match over the weekend at the Pepsi Center in Denver. He finished the season with a 30-1 record.

Atsamaz Pliev, Sierra

The senior made history over the weekend, becoming the first wrestler in school history to place in the state tournament. He finished third in the Class 3A 220 pounds bracket, thanks to pinning Bayfield's Daniel Westbrook in the final match. Westbrook knocked off Pliev (33-2) in the quarterfinals.

Patrick Allis, Discovery Canyon

The senior became a back-to-back state champion after he defeated Pueblo East's Ryan Roth for the third time this season in the Class 4A 126-pound final. He won 11-5. Allis also recorded two pins and one technical fall in the state tournament.


Chhun Sun is a sports reporter with an emphasis in preps. He joined The Gazette in April 2015 and covered public safety for three years before joining @gazettepreps staff. The Thailand-born Cambodian-American has been in journalism for nearly two decades.

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