BLOOMFIELD — Corbin Nelson's 34-10 senior wrestling record and second-place finish at the state tournament caught the attention of multiple colleges across the country. After a lot of pondering, Nelson settled on Bacone College in Muskogee, Okla.
With four offers on the table, the recent Bloomfield graduate decided Bacone's $82,000 scholarship was too good to pass up, so today, he signed his national letter of intent.
The recent commitments of fellow Bloomfield grads Kristen Espinosa and Daysha Smith to play softball at the same school only sweetened the deal for Nelson.
"It was about my fourth choice, because I wasn't really interested at first, and then I found out (Smith and Espinosa) got scholarships and had the same idea of going," Nelson said. "Then it came down to two choices, and this was the best one financially for me."
Nelson said schools from Wisconsin and Colorado also were after his services, but he only seriously considered offers from Bacone and McPherson College in Kansas. The dual-sport athlete said in addition to wrestling for the school, he's going to try his hand at making the baseball team as a walk-on.
Both the wrestling and baseball coaches at Bacone have already made Nelson feel welcome.
"I guess the two coaches live in the same neighborhood, so they know each other pretty well. And they've both been really cool to talk to over the phone," Nelson said of wrestling coach Brett Oleson and baseball coach Michael Adair. "I'm signing to wrestle 'cause of the scholarship, but (Adair) already kind of knows I'm coming to play baseball, as well."
Wrestling mostly at 113 pounds his junior year, Nelson was good, amassing a record of 32-10. But according to assistant coach Bryan Robinson, he didn't turn a corner until his senior year, when he got to wrestle at his preferred weight of 132 pounds.
"He struggled keeping his weight down, but he always made it, like we asked of him," Robinson said. "Then, in his senior year, we told him, 'Don't worry about trying to drop weight.' And it became a lot easier for him to be his normal self. And we saw a different kid."
As a senior, Nelson walked into the Bloomfield locker room a better leader, an athlete who Robinson said pushed others, as well as himself. His overall record was nearly identical to the year before, but the major difference came at state.
Nelson was bounced in the quarterfinals in 2015 and had to make his way through the consolation bracket, where he finished second. But at state this year, Nelson was on a mission — a mission, he said, that started when the season began.
"I gave it my all. I didn't care if I lost or won, I just gave everything," Nelson said. "In fact, I passed out twice because I was just all about putting 100 percent on the mat."
Nelson's state final loss to Cobre's Robert Rodriguez was one of the two matches he passed out in.
"It was spotty, trying to remember it, but I've watched the videos" he said. "(Rodriguez) was a lot bigger than me, but I was actually holding my ground. It was back and forth for a lot of it."
Nelson, who was rarely taken down as a senior and was "phenomenal on his feet," according to coach Robinson, said he isn't going to breathe easy just because he's got a scholarship in the bag — he wants to be great at Bacone.
"I want them to know I didn't come just to come," Nelson said. "I can stand my ground. I'm coming to prove myself as a wrestler."
Bacone competes in the Red River Athletic Conference, which is in Division I of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.