BELGRADE — The Class A state wrestling tournament has been a scene of disappointment the past two years for Glendive junior Nelson Crisafulli. But those back-to-back third-place finishes have pushed him harder than ever.
“I think that kind of got at him a little bit,” Glendive head coach Garrett Tennant said of Crisafulli’s third-place finishes. “He’s come back a little more focused. He still has his Nelson moments. I think it was good for him last year, that third finish, because he’s a little hungrier.”
“Getting up every morning in the summer and lifting, conditioning, it’s supposed to pay off in the season. My sophomore year, it really didn’t. I had a sour taste in my stomach to wrestling after that,” Crisafulli said. “The summer before my junior year, I worked a lot harder than I did, and now that I’m here, I’m just trying to roll with as much energy as I can.”
Those Nelson moments are just part of the energy he brings every day. His light-hearted personality keeps the atmosphere around the Glendive team loose.
“He’s always smiling, always joking around. Sometimes you’ve kind of got to smack him and tell him it’s time to be serious. He’s always goofing with somebody,” Tennant said.
“Wrestling is kind of a like a burden on the body almost,” said Crisafulli. “The practices, they’re hard and really tiring and stuff, so you’ve got to have fun once in a while and just crack jokes all the time to remember why you’re here and creating bonds with your teammates and stuff like that.”
Crisafulli is among the favorites for the 170-pound title in Class A this year, and he’s hungry for a shot at redemption. But he won’t soon forget the gut-wrenching defeat at last year’s state tournament.
“Just got to work harder than I’ve worked at anything in my life, and just always keep in the back of your mind what the sour taste of losing is,” Crisafulli said.