Some athletes have an expertise for running, jumping and dribbling. Joshua Pine, 18, can clamp, bridge and escape.
The senior at Palo Verde High School, 333 S. Pavilion Center Drive, became the school’s first state wrestling champion in four years at the Feb. 20 state tournament in Primm. He is the fifth state champion in the school’s history.
The feat is all the more impressive when you consider that Pine broke his neck early in his sophomore year and missed nearly all of that season.
His father Kevin Pine, an assistant wrestling coach at Palo Verde, was there when he sustained the injury. It was the first day of competition.
“It happened right in front of me,” Kevin Pine said. “He landed on his head. It didn’t look good. It was scary.”
Originally diagnosed as a pinched nerve, Joshua was still having neck issues a week later. An X-ray and MRI revealed he had two fractured vertebrate.
“The very next morning, they got the results, and the doctor called us really early and said, ‘Don’t let him walk anywhere. Don’t let him do any driving. He’s got to see a surgeon,’ ” Kevin Pine said. “It was pretty scary. I knew something was going on, but I didn’t know it (was a broken neck). … We dodged a bullet, but he was in a neck brace for 12 weeks, cleared in June and went to nationals in July.”
As for Joshua, he said it never entered his mind not to compete after he healed. His wrestling record following the injury led him to this year’s big competition.
He said he was “pretty confident going into the tournament because I’d had an awesome time at regional and knocked off the returning champ. Everything was going my way.”
He defeated Jacob Dye from Spanish Springs in Northern Nevada. The two had never wrestled each other before. Joshua called him a “pretty tough kid who’d done well in a lot of tournaments. So, I felt it was a good match-up.”
At 5 feet, 11 inches tall, Joshua said he prefers to wrestle at 160 pounds instead of trying to shave off weight to be matched against smaller opponents. He said he feels stronger and more comfortable if he’s not dieting.
When he finishes high school, college is in his future, although he’s not yet determined which school. He’s undecided on his career path, as well, but said business was a possibility.
One thing is certain: He plans to wrestle in college.
“I love the sport; my whole family has been surrounded by the sport,” he said. “My uncles are all coaches, and my cousin (Logan Pine) took third in Washington State championships this year. So, you know, it’s just something my family does. (After the injury), I made sure I … was healthy, and I did everything to be back on the mat and compete.”
Besides his win, Palo Verde qualified two others for state: Jonathan Carpenter and David Rivera. Neither placed but both said they plan to return next year.
To reach Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 702-387-2949.