When Hahnville wrestler Nicholas Lirette was a freshman, he established and wrote down a goal for himself: to one day compete at a Division I university.
Lirette’s dream will come true. Now a senior in the midst of a dominating season — he entered the week with a record of 48-1— he recently committed to wrestle at the University of North Carolina.
“I’m very excited about it,” Lirette said. “What’s really cool about it is I went to a camp for (UNC wrestling coach Coleman Scott). He’d only seen me practice once, but from there he started contacting me. He’d run out of lightweight spots … he promised spots to some junior college guys. They didn’t all make the grades and he called me up. I was number one on their list to be recruited and from there I committed.”
His collegiate destination cemented, he now has another goal: to become a state champion. His lone loss this season was avenged shortly after — he’s bested that opponent twice this season — and he believes he won’t be stopped on his way to top honors this season. Lirette is competing in the 138-pound division.
“Where my confidence is, I just believe I’m going to win all my matches,” Lirette said.
His story is one of perseverance. Lirette was training in jujitsu, taking interest in that discipline after his brother began training. His coach opened his eyes to wrestling. Lirette attended J.B. Martin and began competing for the school in his seventh and eighth grade years, splitting his extracurricular time between the wrestling team and band.
“I did not like band at all,” Lirette said with a wry smile. “That was not fun for me. I didn’t like band, but I liked flipping around and wrestling and all that stuff.
“I wasn’t very good, though. I barely won anything at all.”
He improved as he worked, though. In his freshman year at Hahnville, Lirette went 30-20 and saw his season end in “sudden victory,” losing to a senior in a qualifier for the placing rounds.
“I shot in for a takedown and he put me on my back,” Lirette said. “That was the day I decided to start working out.”
As he added strength, he added wins. As a sophomore, he finished as state runner-up in his class. In his junior year, he took third, entering the state tournament as a favorite before falling in the semifinals.
“He wrestled a good match,” Lirette said. “He took advantage of how nervous I was about the whole thing.”
This season, he’s operating at his peak.
“Nick’s got an unbelievable work ethic,” Hahnville wrestling coach Dan Erwin said. “He strives to be the best at everything he does and he’s got a motor that doesn’t stop.
“He’s the most tenacious wrestler I’ve ever coached. He’s brutal. The only person that beats him is himself.”