COLUMBIA — Nick Gregoris had the same problem as almost every other college student. He was struggling with college life after leaving home and being on his own for the first time.
As a member of the Missouri wrestling team, Gregoris, a 157-pound redshirt sophomore from Mebane, N.C., had to give up some of the things he enjoyed doing when he was in high school. He had developed a vast array of hobbies, including skateboarding, playing guitar, computers and art.
“In high school, I would say I was a little punk kid. I used to skateboard around all the time, wore baggy jeans and had funny haircuts,” he said.
An affinity for computers contrasted with that image, though.
“I’m a big computer fan. I like to sit at home and read the forums about computers and trade shows,” he said.
His interests also included wrestling. He had success as a wrestler, too, winning state championships at Chapel Hill High School in 2005, 2006 and 2008.
But life as a student athlete at MU has proven difficult for Gregoris. He doesn’t play guitar as much as he would like, he had to give up his plan of being an art major and wrestling hasn’t gone the way he thought it would.
This season, Gregoris was the only Missouri starter who didn’t qualify for the NCAA National Championships in Philadelphia.
The Tigers had wrestlers in seven weight classes who qualified automatically by placing at the Big 12 Conference Tournament. Since the Big 12's 157-pound weight class wasn't as strong as the 157-pound weight class in other conferences, only the top wrestler from that weight class advanced automatically to the NCAA Tournament.
Additionally, Kyle Bradley and Mike Larson earned NCAA "wild card” spots. Gregoris, despite finishing second at the Big 12 Tournament, was not selected for a wild card spot.
He now turns his attention to next season, when he has another chance to make it to the NCAA Tournament.
“I still have two more years of eligibility,” he said. “I’ve got a lot more time to keep getting better and keep working on stuff.”
The fact that he was even in a position to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament was impressive because he didn’t even begin the season as a starter for the Tigers.
He stepped into the starting role at 157 pounds for good on Dec. 19 at a meet in Bloomington, Ind., with Eastern Michigan and Indiana. He ended up finishing the 2010-11 season with an overall record of 17-12.
With a new level of comfort — his position is the starting lineup is secure for next year — head coach Brian Smith expects Gregoris to start to reach his potential.
“He has the talent to be an All-American,” Smith said. “He’s that talented.”
Although this off-season will still be full of working out and getting ready for next season, Gregoris said he hopes he can get back to some of his hobbies, like writing his own music for the guitar, as well as playing songs by bands like Oasis and Jack’s Mannequin. He would also like to participate in some open mic nights in Columbia, something he enjoyed doing in North Carolina.
“I did that back in Chapel Hill when I lived there and then everything was kind of put on hold when I came to college,” he said. “Now that I’m settled and everything, I can get back to playing more.”
He would also like to find more time to draw. He said he likes stippling, the technique of creating patterns and pictures using only small dots.
“It’s one of my favorite things to do,” he said. “I haven’t had much time during wrestling season, obviously, because I’m pretty busy, but hopefully in the springtime, I can get back to that.”