Culver duo earn All-American honors
The Culver juniors participated in the National High School Coaches Association Junior Nationals during the weekend in Virginia Beach, Va. Wrestlers earned All-American status by finishing among the top eight.
Nelson finished sixth while competing in the 103-pound class. He was one of 27 competitors in that weight class. Six weeks earlier, Nelson won the 2A/1A state title at 103.
Baltazar finished eighth at 119 in a bracket with 135 competitors. Baltazar won the 2A/1A state title while competing at 125.
This is Baltazar's third consecutive All-American season. He also finished eighth in the 2005 freshman nationals (competing at 112) and was fifth at 119 in the sophomore nationals last season.
"There's not a lot of difference between second and eighth in this kind of a tournament," Culver coach J.D. Alley said. "It's a couple of points here or a break there. There's no cruising to a win in this tournament."
Nelson went 3-3 in his first high school nationals. His only losses were to the third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishers.
He opened with an 11-2 victory against a New Jersey foe. Nelson then lost 8-1 to a New York foe who eventually finished fourth.
Once in the consolation bracket, Nelson scored a 10-1 victory against Billy Richardson of Bremerton, Wash. A 4-2 victory against a Kentucky wrestler followed to put Nelson in the consolation semifinals. A 15-0 loss to the eventual third-place finisher from Colorado sent Nelson into the fifth-place match.
In the trophy match, Nelson lost a 10-2 decision to a Massachusetts foe.
Baltazar also went 4-3, losing to a quarterfinalist along with the eventual fourth- and seventh-place finishers.
Baltazar opened with pins against foes from Pennsylvania and Ohio. He lost in the round of 16 to a Minnesota foe to drop in the consolation bracket.
A 9-1 win against a Florida opponent and 4-3 victory against Minnesota foe put Baltazar in the consolation quarterfinals. He lost 9-6 to a wrestler from Alabama.
In the match for seventh place, a Wisconsin foe pinned Baltazar.
"Wrestling in a tournament of this caliber helps these guys," Alley said. "It's points out weaknesses they need to work on."