Move south pays off for Lakeview native with national championship victory

Nolan Saxton won the NAIA title at 157 lbs.
Posted at 4:38 PM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-08 17:34:43-05
Lakeview native Nolan Saxton wins National Championship in wrestling

Saturday night Reinhardt University's Nolan Saxton won an individual NAIA national championship in wrestling at 157 pounds.

"It was amazing," Saxton, a Lakeview native said. "It was very satisfying. Definitely a big relief, a lot of weight off the shoulders. Life long dream accomplished so it was a really good feeling, just really happy to go all the way and get it done."

Saxton only wrestled two matches this season before fracturing his elbow in practice back in November.

He didn't return to the mat until the conference tournament which was right before nationals.

"That was a really hard time because that was the first time in my career I had ever been injured," Saxton said. "That was a lot of adversity, mentally very challenging. I was questioning my abilities towards the end of the year a little bit but I just had to be confident and trust myself and trust the training that I had and I ended up getting it done so it all worked out."

Saxton becomes the first individual national champion in program history for the Eagles.

"That means a lot to me especially breaking through and winning that national title proving to all the young guys coming in and my teammates that it can be done at Reinhardt and it will be done in the future," Reinhardt said. "And it doesn't stop there, we can win a team national title as soon as next year, I believe."

Reinhardt University is located just north of Atlanta, Georgia.

It's a long way from Lakeview, but Saxton is thrilled he made the decision to transfer there after wrestling at Central Michigan University his freshman year.

"An opportunity came down here in Atlanta and I just went for it, took the risk," Saxton said. "I was the first person in my family to really leave the state so it was different but I grew so much throughout this experience and I am so grateful I did.

Saxton does have another year of eligabilty granted to everyone because of COVID-19, he is not sure if he will use it.

He is graduating in May and wants to be a high school teacher and coach.

"I am really excited to give back to wrestlers and make sure that they know that they can accomplish anything it doesn't matter where they are from," Saxton said. "I am from Lakeview, Michigan and just won a national title so I am really excited to give back to those kids."