Jack Nealy has improved every year and is now one of the area’s top grapplers
MATTHEWS – Jack Nealy is the type of wrestler longtime Butler coach coach Billy Puckett loves.
Nealy had never wrestled before when he came out for the team as a freshman, but Puckett could see the potential was there.
As a 145-pound freshman, Nealy went a respectable 5-10 during his first season and followed that up with a 10-7 season in 2015-16 as a 160-pound sophomore.
Last year was his coming out party as Nealy closed the regular season with a 19-3 record at 160 pounds and went on to place third in the Western Regional and eighth at the state tournament while compiling a 26-5 overall record.
Ever since last year, the Bulldog star has been looking forward to his senior year and putting in the work to make sure it goes as planned.
“Going into states and regionals last year is where I feel like I really hit my stride,” Nealy said. “After the season I did a lot of camps and things like that so toward the end of the year and into the offseason was when I really picked it up. I went to state champions camp in Ohio and I’ve been working with Core Wrestling a little bit.”
Nealy said that dedication – both in the weight room and on the mat – has him excited to see what can happen this season. Despite a roster of about 20-25 wrestlers, both Nealy and the Bulldogs think they can take the next step as he moves up to 185. The 25-pound jump is a combination of getting physically more mature and definitely his time in the weight room, but he thinks it will help push him and his teammates in the right direction.
“I’ve been working all year on my strength, but I’ve gotten a lot better on my scrambling and just general knowledge of the sport that comes with being around it more,” he said. “I’ve been working with some nationally ranked wrestlers and people who are coaching now, but were once nationally-ranked wrestlers themselves. My confidence is good, but I’m not too overconfident or anything. I want to stay humble, realize nobody is immortal and take it one match at a time to see where it goes.”