Nathan Thacker capped off his senior season with a runner-up finish at the National Prep Championships. Nathan is DC's most decorated prep wrestler of all time. He is a four time conference champion, four time city champion, and a four time placer at the National Prep Championships. We reached out to Nathan as he reflected on his historic prep career.
WCDC: What does it mean to you to be DC's most decorated wrestler?
Nathan: To be DC's most decorated wrestler is an honor. I entered High School relatively unknown, and I am leaving as DC's most decorated wrestler. I proved to myself that all of the hard work and time I put in throughout my career really paid off.
WCDC: What are your plans going forward? Wrestling in College? What do you want to study and ultimately do for a living?
Nathan: I am definitely wrestling in college and I am super excited to prove what I can do on the next level. I have a few official visits coming up soon. One is to the University of Maryland and the other is to Cornell University. I plan on majoring in business, which will have a big impact on where I will be going to school. Academics always come first. I haven’t decided what field of business I will be going into, but I will figure that out once I am attending school and learning how the business world works.
WCDC: What have been your best memories during your storied career?
Nathan: Honestly, every part of my career has been a great memory. I think of the great wins, the devastating losses, the drudge of cutting weight, and starving throughout the day while I am in school. I also think of the tough practices and the late night skull sessions with my coaches. It all comes together and makes my prep career complete. IF I look back at it all, it is one of the most beautiful things of my life, because it is what I truly love. Specifically, one of my favorite memories is when I was in Las Vegas my freshman year I went against a senior from Nevada in the second round and I lost 7-6. That loss was my first prep career loss. I remember being absolutely devastated. That night at the hotel, coach Yates called me out of my room and we walked around the hotel just talking. We talked about what I had to do in order to accomplish what I wanted and we talked about the mistakes I made, that cost me my loss. We also talked about life in general and how I needed to push through adversity that comes when it is not expected, and how to overcome it despite being against the odds. I wrestled back eight hard matches taking third at that tournament. One of those matches I faced the same senior from Nevada. This time the score was 7-5 in my favor.
WCDC: What attributed to your success?
Nathan: My parents are every part of my success. They drove me everywhere that I needed to be in order to fulfill my dream. Of course there were tough times. I am not going to pretend it was easy for any of us, but we set a goal, and we were going to achieve it no matter what took. Although wrestling is an “individual” sport, I see it as a team effort more. My team consists of my parents, coaches/mentors/drill partners, and my teammates who are always there to take my mind off of the matches and remind me to have fun. I also must thank the families of Gonzaga for taking me in during the year, which allowed me to avoid a two hour drive to school everyday. They treated me as if I was their own son and I am truly thankful. I have always wanted to thank everyone who played key roles in my life and career. I have found the best way to do so, is by giving my best effort at all times and becoming successful in achieving my goals. I also worked extremely hard on my own balancing my school work as well as studying film, lifting, running and practicing every day. I thought I have reached my breaking point numerous times, but in the back of my mind I always knew I had a task at hand to achieve and I can't let the rest of "my" team down.
WCDC: What are lessons you learned from Gonzaga wrestling that you believe will stick with you for the rest of your life?
Nathan: There were many lessons I have learned from Gonzaga wrestling, but the most important is being a "man for others". This is our motto at Gonzaga. We are a family, and selfless not only within our community, but with everyone outside of it. I learned how to love at Gonzaga, and that is why it hurts so much to leave this wonderful place. It is truly amazing how close you become with your brothers here. There are many things people can say they disliked at Gonzaga, but what makes is we are with each other during the tough times. Thru these times we become close, we know what each of us are going through, and we are here for each other. I have never seen anything else like it.
The Washington Post also named Nathan Thacker a "First Team, All-Met" for his senior season. And Coach Milton Yates was named "Wrestling Coach of the Year." See below for more information.
Nathan Thacker, 152-pounder, Sr., Gonzaga
The two-time National Prep championships runner-up and four-time all-American anchored Gonzaga as it won the D.C. championship.
Washington Post Coach of the Year
Caoch Milton Yates, Gonzaga
The Gonzaga alumnus won two D.C. titles and a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title as a competitor before returning to his alma mater as head coach in 2002-03. Inheriting a team with just eight wrestlers, he spearheaded a turnaround that yielded a third city championship this season. He helped guide Nathan Thacker to 193 career wins and was named national prep coach of the year. Gonzaga’s wrestling room is named for his late father, Melvin S. Yates Sr., who paved the way for Milton and his brother, Melvin S. Yates Jr., to attend the school.