Nico Romero not only dominates on the wrestling mat, but in the classroom as well. He has made straight A’s throughout high school and has a chance at being valedictorian of his class next year. (Photo courtesy of the Riverview High School wrestling program.)

Riverview High School wrestler Nico Romero was very confident that he was destined for victory in the final round of the state tournament after coming up with a close win in the semifinal match while battling through a knee injury. The junior knew that he put in the necessary work in the offseason to get him to this point.

His intuition was correct, as he claimed the 3A state championship with relative ease in the final match, becoming only the second male wrestler in the school’s history to accomplish that. Current North Carolina wrestling standout Kizhan Clarke is the only other wrestler to reach that plateau. Romero also helped lead his team to eighth place in the state overall, which is the best finish in the school’s history.

“I was super happy about my semifinal match, super pumped up,” said Romero. “When I got to my finals match — when you get to that moment, you can’t have any doubt in your mind, so I guess before going into that I had already known that I was going to win. It wasn’t a cockiness thing, it was more confidence because I knew how hard I had worked and I expected to win.”

Riverview head wrestling coach Ryan Hall said that Romero is a unique wrestler in that he’s very open to critique, vocal when he wants to learn something, has an itch to compete and is athletic to boot.

The standout wrestler, who has a background in mixed martial arts, said that he had some help along the way when it came to his training during the offseason before. Romero picked up wrestling his freshman year at Riverview and wasn’t as experienced as some of his teammates. His two workout partners, Nikolas Hernandez and Jacob Edwards, helped push him to be where he needed to be. Romero gave big praise to Hernandez, who took second place in the state tournament in the weight class above.

“There were times when he was a lot better than I was and he pushed me so much to the point that I wanted to quit, but every time I wanted to quit, he would tell me to keep going and work harder,” said Romero. “He was a role model; he has these leadership skills that would bring you up when you were on the brink of quitting. I couldn’t have done it without him.”

Romero not only dominates on the wrestling mat but in the classroom as well. He has made straight A’s throughout high school and has a chance at being valedictorian of his class next year. He’s also a part of the National Honor Society and the Science Honor Society. His parents have always taught him that his grades and school come first.

He doesn’t know whether or not he wants to pursue wrestling in college, but one thing is for sure, he can earn an academic scholarship if he decides to take that route instead. Either way, he has a bright future ahead of him. For right now, he has dreams of winning another state title next year.

“Anybody who’s spent 15 seconds talking to him can see how bright he is,” said Hall. “He can do whatever he wants. If he wants to pursue wrestling at the next level, he can do that, if he wants to be a doctor, he can do that. He has so much growth potential because he started late at wrestling. He has so much still to learn, but he’s very good at what he does. It’s a cliche, but he can do whatever he wants in life.”

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Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.