Arlington wrestling standout prepares for next level
Nathan Enzor stood tall at the 2015 Region 8 wrestling tournament despite being overshadowed by the runner-up.
After winning the championship for the second straight year, Enzor, who is 5-foot-6-inches, stood on top of a podium to receive his medal. The wrestler he defeated was still taller even though Enzor’s platform was raised.
“I always thought that was funny,” said Enzor, who reached new heights during his senior wrestling season.
He became the first Arlington High School wrestler to sign a college scholarship. He will continue to be a Tiger in a different shade of blue.
Enzor signed with the University of Memphis in April. He was also the first Arlington wrestler to place in the State AAA tournament, finishing sixth in the 160-pound class and completing his season with a 43-6 record.
“That was one of my best wrestling moments. No one had ever done it,” he said. “To make that goal tangible was inspiring.”
Wrestling in the Brute Nationals Wrestling championship in Independence, Mo. this spring, Enzor was one of three Arlington wrestlers to achieve All-American status. Freshman Caleb Morgan in the 106-pound class and Andrew Zarshenas in the 143-pound class, who won the tournament in his class, were also All-Americans.
“I took six guys out there and ended up with having three All-Americans,” said Arlington Wrestling Coach Jonathan Simpson, who was named The Commercial Appeal’s Best of the Preps Coach of the Year.
The Tigers went to the state duels for the first time in school history. Six of his wrestlers were individual region champions.
Going into the national tournament, Enzor had “made some big strides” from the state tournament said Simpson. “He made some improvements on things he needed to improve on.”
Enzor finished in the top six against state medalists and state champions.
What attracted Memphis to Enzor was his work ethic and commitment level said U of M assistant coach Brad McCarter.
“He brought a lot to the table as far as his grades (3.4 grade-point average), his attitude. Undoubtedly he is the best wrestler in the area this year. It is great for us to have the number one prospect out of Memphis.”
Enzor wasn’t always a No. 1 prospect.
His freshman year, he said that he wasn’t very good. “I was a slow, average wrestler,” he recalled.
He didn’t place in JV tournaments. But he knew that wrestling is what he wanted to do.
“I would have never guessed my freshman year the level of success I have achieved. I want to give God all the glory for what He has given me,” he said.
After placing in the state tournament, his first thoughts were that his hard work had paid off.
“It takes a lot of sacrifice. Often I will be invited to go out to eat with my friends and I will have to say no,” he noted. “I withstand the temptation of eating out when I have to cut weight.”
While Simpson had worked with Enzor in the past with the Mid-South Wrestling Club and was aware of his “great skills,” the coach could see when he wrestled against talented athletes that there were times his confidence would waver.
“Maybe he couldn’t get in and score or maybe he was down,” Simpson said. “You could tell he felt like, ‘Well I am down this much, I really can’t win.’ This season if Nathan stepped on a mat, it did not matter who was stepping across it, he knew that he could win. He knew that he had the skills to win. He wrestled some great competition this year. He beat kids that were state placers, not only from Tennessee but other parts of the Southeastern U.S. Everybody he lost to ended up being a state medalist or a state champion.”
Enzor’s confidence began to grow at the beginning of the 2014-15 season. He placed second in the Black Horse Invitational tournament to CBHS senior Dallas Broughton, who as Enzor, was a finalist for wrestler of the year in Best of Preps.
Broughton finished second in the Division 2 state tournament in the 160-pound class, went 45-2 and won the region championship.
“He is a really tough kid, the best guy I wrestled,” said Enzor.
Simpson said that Enzor always wanted to learn. “He said I have the basics down, I want to learn how to finish, ‘How do I do that?’ He was always asking questions. He has a thirst of knowledge. His confidence built and he took off with it.”
In his first season as Arlington coach, Simpson, who spent 13 years as an assistant at Germantown, wanted his team to list goals. One of Enzor’s goals was to be a state medalist.
“I looked at him and said, ‘Here is a special kid. He can be the first. We’ve got to push him in a different way than I push the other guys. Talking to him, it was always about creating a legacy. What do you want your legacy to be? And we talked a lot. Do you want to be the guy that gets close or do you want to be the guy that that gets there. With no hesitation, Nathan was always the guy that wanted to get there.”
During the state tournament, Enzor looked Simpson square in the eye and told him that he was not going home empty-handed.
“It was probably the first time in my coach’s career, I had a kid look at me and tell me something I had no worries about,” said Simpson.
Setting reasonable, realistic goals “makes me put the carrot in front of the horse; that is my motivation and gives me drive,” said Enzor. “State champions are made in the off-season. I would be in the weight room. I would be practicing. I would go to wrestling camps.”
Enzor was the only public school wrestler among the five finalists for wrestler of the year in Best of the Preps. He along with five other Arlington wrestlers made the Division 1 team. The Tigers won the region duels as a team. They had 10 individual state qualifiers with six of those individual region champions. Arlington won the individual region
tournament as a team. While Enzor was the only medalist at state, three others made it to the round of 10.
Through his leadership, Enzor pushed teammates beyond what they thought they may be capable of achieving.
Teammate Reid Cacaro, a senior who wrestled in the 126-pound class, called Enzor a positive role model.
“He led everyone to the right places by example and saying stuff that needed to be said. Every day he knows what he wants and he believes in that. The leaps he made from just hard work were pretty amazing.”
Zarshenas, who was on the Best of the Preps Division 1 team and wrestled at 132 during the season, said that Enzor “stayed hungry. When everybody was tired he stayed at it and kept working hard. When he believed he could do something he went out and did it. He was trying to make everybody better.”
For Simpson being a new coach, it was important that his team buy into his program. “He bought in and was all in. He set a great example for everybody else to say, ‘Hey, if you are doing these things he is trying to do, you can be successful.’ He ended up being the poster child for the program.”
The team participated in community service projects through the Arlington 5 K, which raised money for the Arlington Education Association and cleaned up parks and planted trees.
Off the mat, Enzor was a leader. He was chosen 2014-15 Mr. Arlington High School. He was president of the Senior Class. He was editor of the yearbook and a leader of the Blue Crew, the pep crew.
Before he began wrestling, he was a member of the Arlington marching band and played in the drum line. He plays the piano and the ukulele. He plans to major in business and exercise science at Memphis.
Goals of being a conference champion and National Collegiate Wrestling Association champion are being set.
Memphis competes against college club teams including Middle Tennessee, Tennessee, Temple, Liberty, small private colleges and NCAA Div. 1 teams.
“I will be a success in college if I continue to work hard and trust God,” said Enzor.
Faith plays a major role in his success he said. His favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
“A lot of people think they can do all this stuff. I like thinking about it in a reverse way because I can’t do anything without God.
“For me to wrestle and to share the Word (Bible) in any way I can is something I am working on. (I want to) be able to do it more,” he said.
He prays before matches and prays with teammates.
“Prayer helps keep me calm. It really helps before matches,” he said.
During his junior year at the state tournament, his parents (Chris and Linda Enzor) knew that he was nervous.
“We went into a corner and they prayed over me,” he said. “That helped calm my nerves a lot. That was one of my best moments. They did it this year at state too.”
Simpson said that he has seen Enzor’s faith each time he wrestled.
“You have to have faith in yourself and you can’t just generate that out of nothing. His parents do a good job of mirroring it. The faith that he has has in himself is mirrored within his religious life.”
Growing up in a Christian home, faith was “always central” said Enzor. “It was in the seventh grade when I noticed a life change.”
In July 2014, Enzor went with members of his church, Faith Baptist in Bartlett, to Guatemala on a mission trip.
They build log houses and shared the gospel, leading people to Christ.
“It was really inspiring. It was really a humbling experience to see how happy they are with what little they have.
It helped me realize that God has given me all this stuff and I really need to be sharing it with the world.”
During the final days they were there, families went into their new houses. “They were emotional. We prayed over the household.”
He has also been on mission trips to New Orleans and Atlanta.
Faith has also enabled him to handle all his responsibilities and to be himself.
“I think people view me as having to be perfect. That is always how I want to be myself. I am not perfect. God has made me the way I am.”
Even if he thinks he has a wrestling procedure down to perfection, he said there are still small things he can do to make it better.
“Since I started wrestling in high school, I am still hungry for it. A lot of kids wrestling their whole lives get burned out. I have goals I want to achieve. I am not done. I believe that I can achieve anything that I set my mind to,” he said. “Never settle for average because you can always do better. There are always goals that need to be achieved even if no one has done them before. There is always going to be a first, so why not you?”