This isn't exactly a farewell tour for The Classical Academy wrestler Nathan Johns.

On Feb. 23, his arms could be raised once again as a Class 3A state champion. It would be the ideal ending for a wrestler who has made a name for himself after he suffered a 3-2 loss in the state title match as a sophomore.

Last season, he earned redemption by edging Valley's Josh Flanagan, 3-2, in the 182-pound state final.

In other words, Johns' prep wrestling days are numbered.

Johns doesn't plan to compete in the sport at the college level but that doesn't mean he'll fade into the background. In many ways, it's only the beginning for someone who has participated in multiple sports, performed spoken poetry and done some acting.

"I'm looking to make the most out of every moment I can," Johns said. "After this, I'm moving on to college and high school wrestling will be completely behind me. So, I'm hoping to have a blast."

He will continue to do that, win or lose.

Take, for example, what happened Thursday night. 

He wrestled Air Academy senior Brady Badwound and lost 3-1. It was quite a battle against a well-known Class 4A wrestler who placed fifth at 160 in last year's state tournament. Badwound earned a two-point takedown as time expired.

The last-second win highlighted the host Kadets' 39-30 win over TCA.

"Everybody has to lose at some point," Johns said. "Better to do that now than at state."

The boys shook hands and went their separate ways.

Johns started off this season with a knee injury. He didn't join the team until late December, but he quickly readjusted to practices, meets and duals. He entered Thursday's match with a 28-0 record.

For Johns, life isn't all about wrestling. He's also focused on academics. He plans to study electrical engineering somewhere. There's little to no doubt he will achieve that goal, given his classroom performance so far.

He has not produced a single B grade during his high school career.

Whatever he decides to do next, he will keep moving forward with his strong Christian faith.

"I've always enjoyed math and science and God has given me an aptitude for those subjects," he said, "so electrical engineering combines those things so nicely."

Again, this isn't a farewell tour.

"He's turning the page to the next stage of his life," TCA coach Sean Collins said. "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."


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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