Hard work helps Asia, Vikings make championship

Nate Asia scores a takedown during his win in the Public League championship. SOURCE: RICHARD CHAN

Nate Asia is a perfect example of what happens when you put in the work.

Asia is a senior at Northeast High School, and the Morrell Park resident applied to go to the school because he wanted to take part in the school’s International Baccalaureate program, an educational program that is defined as a rigorous, off-the-shelf curriculum recognized by universities around the world.

He fell just short of reaching that goal, but he still went to the school and joined the magnet program. Then he worked.

“I didn’t get in right away, but I knew if I worked hard, I could do it,” said Asia, who is ranked in the top five of his senior class. “I studied hard, and then I got in. It’s a great program, it gives you a lot of advantages. It’s a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it.”

That’s exactly the approach Asia takes in wrestling, and just like it does in the classroom, it works.

Asia is a 132-pounder for the Vikings and thus far he’s enjoyed quite a season.

In leading Northeast to a 6-0 regular season record and a trip to the Public League championship, Asia is 6-3 against Public League foes, 13-10 overall. Not a bad record considering the Vikings have an ambitious nonleague schedule.

Asia did some wrestling when he was young with the Police Athletic League, but stopped for a few years before a discussion with Northeast coach Mike Siravo when he was a sophomore.

“He talked to me and told me to come to a match and check it out,” Asia said. “It was great, and I signed up. I wasn’t very good as a sophomore, but I did make varsity.

“Wrestling is a sport where if you put in work, you can get better. I didn’t do too well my first year, but I got better my second and this year has been pretty good. We’ve wrestled great as a team, and I’ve done better. I just try to work hard and get better.”

That hard work led Asia to his third Public League championship match in as many years, but unlike the last two seasons, it didn’t end the way he wanted it to.

Central avenged a regular season loss to Northeast to beat the Vikings 38-30 to win the Public League championship. Emmanuel Santana, Bobby Bohannan, Jacob Solomon and Alex Dofilis scored pins for Northeast, and Alassane Sow and Asia won their matches by decision, but it wasn’t enough.

Asia could have been disappointed about losing the first Public League match of the season when the stakes were the biggest, but he wasn’t. He was too busy thinking about all of the great things he and his teammates did this year and in previous years.

He was also preoccupied with what’s to come.

“We were in the championship every year I was on the team and we won twice,” Asia said. “I wanted to win, but Central is good. We can’t be too disappointed. We came such a long way this year. We weren’t a great team in the beginning, but we worked so hard. We got to where we were by hard work, so you can’t get upset.”

Especially when there’s too much to get ready for.

The Vikings will meet the loser of Tuesday night’s Catholic League championship match between Archbishop Ryan and Father Judge on Wednesday. The winner of that match will go on to compete for a spot in the state playoffs.

After that, it will be back to work for the All-Public meet. Place winners will then go on to compete in the District 12 tournament.

“I’m glad we still have wrestling left,” Asia said. “I’m happy we can wrestle as a team again, and then we have the individual wrestling, so we could be wrestling for a little while longer. I’m happy about that.”

Next year, Asia will not be wrestling for his school when he attends the University of Michigan, where he plans on majoring in electrical engineering.

Because the Wolverines are a Division I wrestling program, Asia believes his days wrestling for his school are over once the season comes to an end, but he would like to stay active in some way.

“It will be tough to wrestle, not just because I will be spending a lot of time studying, but it will be hard because Michigan has a very good wrestling team, it’s very tough to wrestle Division I,” Asia said. “But I would love to do something, maybe join the club team.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’s a great school, I love it. I’m not worried about the cold at all. I love the cold. I’m always hot at practice. I’m looking forward to the cold.”

And he’ll go to Michigan with a lot of great memories of his wrestling career.

“I’m so proud of this team,” Asia said. “We didn’t win this year, so our heads are down, but we have to get back at it. We had a great year, I’ve been here for two championships. I’m proud of this team and think we should be proud.”