Nathaniel Holt, center

PROVO — Former Provo High wrestler Nathaniel Holt is making a name for himself among the "who's who" of the U.S. wrestling circuit.

Holt just finished his freshman season at Central Michigan University and recently won the University National Freestyle tournament, which qualified him to compete at the Olympic Team Trials in Las Vegas from June 13-15.

"It has been a good year," said Holt. "I had a good record and I got to compete a lot and get some experience."

Holt wrestles in the 66-kilogram weight class, and the two-time Utah state champ enjoyed an impressive freshman season while at CMU. He said that the transition from high school to college has been challenging given the amount of preparation and the skill of the competitors.

Holt says his usual day during the season consists of three training sessions and class — that's about it. He also said the biggest change has been going from a three-month high school sport to

nearly year-round preparation on the college level.

"In high school, you wrestle a lot of regular kids, but in college everyone you wrestle is a state champ," said Holt. "Only the best go on to wrestle in college, so everyone is an accomplished competitor."

Former Provo wrestling coach Brian Preece helped Holt prepare throughout his high school career. He even credits Holt with challenging him as a coach and for being a catalyst for improving the entire wrestling program at the school.

Preece was the head coach at Provo for 12 years and resigned after Holt's senior season. The two remain close and Preece has made the effort to see Holt wrestle on the college level as much as he can.

"(Holt) is one of the hardest-working wrestlers I have ever had as far as how much time he puts in the weight room and in the off-season," said Preece. "It was fun to see him grow up going through high school."

As a result of winning the university freestyle event, Holt also qualified to take part in the University World Team Trials. He is the No. 1 seed going into that tournament, which will be in the end of May. If he wins the qualifying match at the trials he will compete in the University World Championships in Greece later on this summer.

"We are very proud of him," said Matthew Holt, Nathaniel's father. "This is a big accomplishment for anyone. Not many people make the Olympic Team Trials."

After finishing finals at CMU, Nathaniel Holt was granted a release from the school and now plans on transferring to Boise State for next season. He says that the decision was for personal reasons, a lot of which had to do with being a little closer to home. CMU finished No. 2 this season, but Holt is excited about the prospect of being at BSU, one of the best teams in the West.

Holt has been in Provo for a few weeks as he trains with some friends from the area before heading to the Olympic Training Center.

"While it's been a good year, I did not get all my goals that I had hoped for," said Holt. "But its not quite over; I still have goals of qualifying for the Olympic team, and I think I am going to be the youngest competitor there."


E-mail: ethomas@desnews.com