Home Sports Nicolas Besteiro gave up soccer before Naperville Central won state. He’s pursuing titles in a different sport.

Nicolas Besteiro gave up soccer before Naperville Central won state. He’s pursuing titles in a different sport.

by staff

Soccer was Naperville Central junior Nicolas Besteiro’s primary sport when he was a kid.

That was in Argentina, which recently won the World Cup.

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“It stayed that way until we came here,” he said. “Wrestling is not that big in Latin America. My dad did judo, and I always thought I’d get into a contact sport. I went out there and tried it in the sixth grade. I got to beat some eighth graders. It felt great.”

Known as “Nico” to his friends, Besteiro gave up soccer at the end of his sophomore year to concentrate on wrestling. He missed out on the Naperville Central boys soccer team’s state championship in November but said he has no regrets.

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“The toughest part was I left a lot of friends in soccer, but I still got to hang out with them and see most of the games,” he said. “It wasn’t the end of the world.”

Indeed, Besteiro (27-5) has emerged as one of the top wrestlers at 220 pounds in Class 3A. At a recent dual team tournament in DeKalb, he recorded two falls against opponents from Oswego and West Aurora in just 0:16.

His former soccer teammates say the natural athleticism, power and strength he exhibited as a forward correlate with his wrestling prowess.

“I haven’t seen Nico lose often since I have known him,” said junior Carter Adams, a starting midfielder on Naperville Central’s boys soccer team and one of coach Troy Adams’ sons.

“His effort and his competitiveness really show in the results. He will always outwork everybody around him. Both sports are mentally and physically draining, and I think soccer has really benefited Nico because of the stamina it takes to do both.”

Wrestling in the second-heaviest weight class, Besteiro is simply too fast and explosive for many opponents.

“I think what separates me from a lot of the 220s is that I am very quick and athletic, and I like to go out there and wrestle fast,” he said.

“A lot of the guys are not ready for that. Even when I am wrestling on top, it looks like I am moving very slowly. But I move fast, and there’s a quickness and speed with everything.”

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Naperville Central junior Ty Martin, a standout at 113 pounds, said Besteiro’s pace has become his defining characteristic.

“Nico has been one of the hardest workers in the room,” Martin said. “His hard work shows at every meet. He is always wrestling at match pace, and it sets the tone not just for his matches and his teammates.”

Soccer gave Besteiro a desire to win, and he has the confidence that he can, no matter who is the opponent.

“I don’t care if he is a state champion or a national qualifier,” he said. “I go out there thinking I can beat him, go out there very aggressive and wrestle my match.”

Soccer remains an inextricable part of him, and Besteiro vicariously joined in the celebrations of the Redhawks’ state championship and Argentina’s World Cup victory.

“I don’t think I’d be out here without my friends from soccer,” he said.

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But wrestling is different.

“You’re out there one-on-one, and you beat the other guy,” Besteiro said. “There is no better feeling in any sport than to have your hand raised at the end.”

Patrick Z. McGavin is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.

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