FARMINGTON — For most eighth graders, being named an All-American might be the highlight of their wrestling career, but Nick Rino is just ready to get back to work.
Rino, who wrestled for Piedra Vista's junior varsity this season, took fifth place in the 127-pound middle school division of the National High School Coaches Association Wrestling National Championship last weekend in Virginia Beach, Va.
"I got a couple of tough matches right off the bat," he said. "But I was really hoping to wrestle at freshman (division), but I was told I couldn't. I was a little disappointed because I'd have seen better competition."
Rino won his first couple of matches by technical fall, and then matched up with the eventual National Champion, Michael Lucas, from Alaska, dropping a 9-4 decision in the semifinals.
"Going in I was thinking, 'Well, I teched everyone so far, and it will be the same in the semis,'" he said. "You can't go in with that mindset. He was quick and strong. I hope I see him again, but I probably won't since he's from Alaska."
The match will motivate Rino going forward as he tries to work his way onto the PV varsity roster next season, said his coach and stepfather Levi Stout.
"He's going to put on some weight, and we're going to get him on a good weight lifting routine," Stout said.
Rino said he's ready to put in the work necessary to eventually become a state champion.
"It motivates me more," he said. "I see all the competition, and my focus will be training all summer long. Wes (Rayburn) and Dylan (Greenhaus) are my wrestling partners and lifting buddies, and our mind is on a state championship."
With Rino and Rayburn both taking home All-American honors as eighth graders, Stout believes the future is bright for the PV program.
"I think the sky is the limit, coming into a great room. They've already spent a year in the room," he said. "Every day is just going to be a grind, and they'll just get better and better."