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Arlington grappler shines on mat
ARLINGTON — The first time his parents brought up the sport of wrestling, the then-5-year-old Jeremy Nygard broke down in tears — and they weren’t tears of joy. It’s a story his mom Kim Nygard relishes to tell.
“It was just so funny to see his expression,” Kim Nygard said. “His dad has wrestled his entire life so we thought maybe we should bring it up with him. But obviously it was too early. I love telling that story because now he lives and breathes the sport.”
Today, a mere eight years later, Jeremy Nygard practices and competes nearly year-round in local and national wrestling meets.
At first glance, however, you’d never peg him for a gritty grappler. But you’d be wrong. Standing no taller than five feet and weighing 83 pounds, Jeremy Nygard competes for Haller Middle School and Sabotage Wrestling Academy, which takes only the best young wrestlers from around the state.
“Sabotage isn’t based in Arlington, it’s a program that takes kids from everywhere,” Kim Nygard said. “In fact, it’s hard because we have to travel all over the state just to get him to a practice. Practices rotate but we’ve had to travel to Ellensburg and Battle Ground. That’s a lot of time spent traveling.”
The hundreds and thousands of miles the Nygard’s travel continues to pay off handsomely. Last year Jeremy Nygard made the State Team, an exclusive squad that travels across the nation to compete in various meets.
“I like wrestling on that type of level,” said Jeremy Nygard, who competes in the 77-84-pound weight class. “The competition is better and its helps me gain experience and improve. And I also like to travel.”
At the end of June, Jeremy Nygard competed in the Schoolboy Duals held in Indianapolis, Ind. He went undefeated and earned the Outstanding Wrestler award. Recently he returned from the week-long Western Regionals in Pocatello, Idaho where he placed first in folkstyle, freestyle and greco-style. And once again he earned the Outstanding Wrestler award.
“Jeremy is a young man who works harder than any kid his age that I have ever seen,” said friend Sally Rush. “He is a great role model for my boys who have been wrestling for five years or so. He has a positive attitude on and off the mat.”
For the 13-year-old Haller Middle School student, Jeremy Nygard doesn’t just wrestle. Despite his hectic wrestling schedule, he finds time to tend to his seven pigs and two cows. He sees his animals as a financial benefit After receiving some seed money from mom and dad, Jeremy Nygard started showing his pigs at the age of three.
“No, really, he started showing at a very young age,” Kim Nygard said. “We used to be dairy farmers so Jeremy has been around animals his entire life.”
As for the seed money, it didn’t take him long to pay his parents back. Now he’s sitting on a nice little nest egg. “I see my animals as money,” he said. “I have to clean their stalls and feed them two times a day but I enjoy doing that.”
According to Kim Nygard, most of her son’s proceeds go toward wrestling expenses, which she says can get fairly steep.
“He has learned a lot about responsibility at an early age raising the animals,” she said. “He has to take care of them and then he shows them at auctions. So he has to do a lot of public speaking. It has been really good for him.”