HELENA — Back in December, MTN Sports sat down with Kalispell Flathead wrestling coach Jeff Thompson discussing which wrestlers from the defending Class AA champions fans should keep an eye on. Without hesitation, the successful coach emphatically stated one name: Tucker Nadeau.
Less than two periods into his first match at the Capital City Duals, Nadeau worked his opponent gracefully into a pin. Thompson, a grin across his face, turned and said, “That’s why you’re interviewing Tucker.”
“Tucker Nadeau is just a great leader in everything that he does. He had an awesome football year,” Thompson said.
Nadeau received multiple honors on the gridiron last fall, including a selection in Montana’s East-West Shrine Game in July. The inside linebacker was a first-team Western AA selection and second-team all-state honoree this past fall, but his successes stem far beyond the football fields.
After placing third at last year’s Class AA state wrestling tournament, Nadeau increased his efforts over the summer. He credits the Fargo Junior Nationals Freestyle Tournament for “really improving my attacking and pushing my pace.” Those offseason workouts have the 182-pound Nadeau top-ranked and unbeaten this winter.
The accolades in football and wrestling speak for themselves, but it’s actually in the classroom the modest Nadeau excels the most.
“Tucker, he’s a kid that’s an intellectual in the sport of wrestling. He’s studying it all the time,” Thompson said. “Overall, he’s one of the highest-scoring ACT scorers in the country. He got a 35 out of 36, and he applies that to the sport of wrestling. Again, just a huge heart, wrestles hard each and every match. We would love to see him bring home a state title this year.”
“I was a little surprised,” Nadeau said of the ACT score. “I was really relaxed for the test, because I had already taken the SAT and I had done pretty well on that, so I figured I didn’t really need to worry too much about the ACT. But I was pretty surprised.”
Those close to Nadeau weren’t shocked the student with a 4.0 grade-point average posted some of the top ACT and SAT scores in the nation, qualifying him for the National Merit Scholarship. A self-described bookworm, it’s rare to find Nadeau without his eyes focused between the pages of any number of books.
“I love reading. Ever since I learned to read when I was 5, I’ve been churning out books,” Nadeau said. “I read for like an hour every night and it’s something I love to do. I just enjoy being at school and learning new stuff.”
“I read all the Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potters, Percy Jackson books,” he continued. “I really enjoyed all of those. Now, Catch-22 is probably my favorite book. I re-read that a lot. (I also got) through One Hundred Years of Solitude, and I really enjoyed that, too.”
Whether his nose is buried in a novel or he’s focused on the chalkboard in the classroom, Nadeau’s mind is constantly in motion. That quickly translated to the playing surfaces in football and wrestling. The linebacker could guess opponents’ playcalls before the snap, and as a wrestler, he could imagine scenarios on the fly during the match.
That kind of thinking was generally beneficial, but the more experienced senior now says clearing his mind leads to the most success.
“That used to be the case and I would be thinking a lot, but now, as experience has come, I’ve been able to do without (too much) thinking, which has helped a lot,” he said. “My mind is still always going – how many points I need, how many points I’ve got at the moment.”
Between the SAT, ACT and GPA scores, Nadeau has his pick of any number of colleges across the country. Football coaches would love to add the intelligent linebacker to their roster, while wrestling coaches practically drool imagining the 182-pound Nadeau being inserted into their varsity lineup.
Though offers are on the table, both athletically and academically, Nadeau has added another option to choose from.
“I’m still considering either wrestling or football, but I’m leaning toward rugby and looking at some schools in Canada – University of British Columbia, University of Victoria. I’m weighing my options,” he said. “I started freshman year, and it’s something I’ve really enjoyed. I’ve been on Team Montana the last couple of years, and our team has done really well. I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m a referee, too, so I just love the sport.”
Those decisions on his future will have to wait. Right now, the 182-pound Nadeau has his own storybook ending to write.