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Abram Nelson has started a wrestling club at the McMinnville school, and aims to be competitive.

PMG PHOTO: SCOTT KEITH - Sherwood High School graduate Abram Nelson has pushed for years to get a wrestling club started at Linfield University. The club now has 10 members and Nelson wants to more than double that number next year. Sherwood High School graduate Abram Nelson has had wrestling in his blood his entire life.

Now that he is in his freshman year at Linfield University in McMinnville, Nelson's dream is to elevate the sport of wrestling to new heights at a school that has a rich sports history.

Nelson has started a wrestling club at Linfield, initially with about 10 members. His plan is to build that number.

"When I first got there (Linfield), there was no wrestling," Nelson said. "They have always needed it. It's the number one most-growing sport. It's also the most requested sport at Linfield."

Speaking of his wrestling club, Nelson said, "We have about 10 members, and that's my goal going in. I want 10 people the first year. In year two, hopefully 20 or 25."

The club includes men and women. "It's open to everyone," he said. "I want to be able to compete nationally because I'm a competitive person and I know Linfield sports is, too. So, I'm going in there with that same mindset. You're not going into it just to make it — you want to make it dominant."

Nelson said his goal is to keep recruiting and to be able to compete next year.

With coronavirus, however, "Safety is our number one concern right now," Nelson said. "The number two concern is growing this team and to make it dominant — I'm the president of the team. The vice president and I have been working hand-in-hand together to just make it grow right now."

According to Linfield University sports information, the Associated Students of Linfield approved creation of the club. The club will join the Northwest Conference of the National Collegiate Wrestling Association. Competition is expected to begin when coronavirus restrictions ease. Sixteen teams are in the conference.

"Our goal, at the club, is to go compete for the club national championships," Nelson said.

Oddly enough, Nelson brought up the idea of bringing wrestling to Linfield as a very young lad.

"When I was about eight, I sat down with the president of Linfield," Nelson recalled. "It's always been in my mind that they need it (wrestling) there. A couple years ago, I went to the athletic director — I told them I'm not going to come here because you don't have wrestling."

In doing a little research, Nelson came to the conclusion that "it would make more sense to make it a club now, and we show we can be a team … then they'll make us an official team."

Nelson added, "The athletic director, he knows I'm doing this. He's on board with it. He loves the idea because wrestling is a money-maker sport. It's not expensive to make."

Nelson selected Linfield because "the education and a degree from Linfield will take you so far in life. It's known worldwide."SUBMITTED PHOTO - Ever since he was 8 years old, Abram Nelson, shown here in 2001 as a member of the Sherwood Mat Club, has wanted to start a wrestling club at Linfield University.

Sherwood High School head wrestling coach Jeff Wilson remembers Nelson as a very ambitious student wrestler.

"What has always really stood out about Abram is dedication and his passion for the sport," Wilson said. "That really showed up from the very first practice — I can't think of a kid that I've coached that had more passion for the sport."

Nelson is majoring in sports management and thinks he'll double-minor in entrepreneurship and coaching. His future hopes include running his own gym and coaching a wrestling team.

"The dream now is to come back when Linfield wrestling is official and coach them to a couple of national championships," Nelson said.

It's the individual nature of the sport that Nelson, who has wrestled for 14 years, enjoys.

"It's an individual team sport," he said. "When you're wrestling, if you win, it's all you. If you lose, it's all you. At the same time, you won't get better unless you have that team behind you."

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