Nick Nolting planned to play basketball when he was in second grade, but a string of circumstances resulted in not being on a team.
A week later he came home from school with a flier on wrestling and told his dad, Larry, that since he couldn’t do basketball, he wanted to wrestle.
“He loved it from the word go,” Larry Nolting said.
Carroll’s success in wrestling fueled Nick Nolting’s love for the sport even more as he watched the Eagles win Class 5A titles in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2008.
Nolting won his own 5A title on Saturday at Hartman Arena, when he won at 220 pounds, 5-2 over Arkansas City’s Malcolm Pink. It’s Carroll’s first individual champion since 2010.
After he won, the stoic junior raced to Carroll assistant Kyle Molina and jumped into his arms, screaming and pumping his fists.
“I’ve been wanting to do that since second grade,” said Nolting, 26-2. “It’s been a lifelong dream to be a state champion. (It was) overcoming a great feat. I’ve worked so hard over the past 10-or-so years. Finally, finally getting my goal just feels great.”
Nolting also helped Carroll finish fifth as a team.
St. James rolled to the team title with 180.5 points, while Goddard was second (117.5), Kapaun Mount Carmel third (101), Ark City fourth (100) and Carroll fifth (91).
Wrestling has been such a singular focus of Nolting’s that he had to be talked into playing football for Carroll, one of the state’s best programs and 2012 champion. The only reason he ended up playing is he wanted to help his friends.
He finished with 63 tackles, 32 for loss, 11 sacks and two fumbles.
Even after that breakout, dominating season, Nolting’s No. 1 sport remained wrestling. Although he admitted to enjoying the act of sacking a quarterback.
Nolting’s progression has been enjoyable for coach Mark Stovall to watch. Nolting finished fifth at 182 pounds in 2013.
“He’s come so far,” Stovall said. “I watched him last year struggle a little bit at the state tournament. He works hard. He’s become a real student of the sport. He pays attention to situations.
“When you saw him (Saturday), when Malcolm reversed him for two, we didn’t lose our composure, we stayed in there, got our one. When he was younger, he might have panicked and pushed when he shouldn’t have pushed.”
Nolting’s control of his emotions is something for which his father credits the Carroll coaching staff.
“His demeanor, he’s a lot more stoic than he was when he was a kid,” Larry Nolting said. “A lot more under control and calm. That’s the coaches at Carroll.
“ They go through everything, from ‘this is what you do an hour before, this is what you do two hours before. The last hour, don’t worry about it, don’t think about it.’ ”
After Nolting hugged Molina, a friend handed him a red poster with Prom? in black letters. He held it up to the crowd for his girlfriend to see — she said yes.
It was a sweet, non-wrestling moment.
But come Monday, Nolting will be back in the weight room, preparing for next season.
Carroll junior Nick Nolting, 5A 220-pound champ
Carroll coach Mark Stovall talks about Nick Nolting winning at 220 pounds
Class 6A and 5A Parade of champions