Nate Pulliam has been making history since he got to Rolla High School.
As a freshman, Pulliam fell one match short of a perfect season and rebounded as a sophomore to become the second State Champion in program history. He followed that up with another championship in the spring and made a splash on the national stage by making an All-Tournament team while wrestling with team Missouri this summer.
Pulliam added to that history this week, as he became the first wrestler in Rolla history to earn All-America status at the USMC/USAW Junior Nationals in Fargo, ND.
The Rolla superstar got out to an electric start in the 132 weight class, winning his first two matches by a score of 10-0 over Jesus Cantor from California and Justin Riddles from Oklahoma. He kept that momentum going with a 6-4 win over Alabama's Gabriel Hixenbaugh, before defeating Caleb Rathjen of Iowa with a pin. Pulliam suffered a setback in the quarterfinals when he lost to Colorado's Dominick Serrano, but he was determined to keep forging ahead.
"I started off really well and I felt my momentum going. In the round of 16, when I pinned the number third ranked kid. He's ranked like ninth in the nation and that put me on fire," said Pulliam. "The next day I had the quarterfinal match, the one I lost. I noticed that my wrestling from the day before didn't transition all the way in. I could've been because it was my first match, but it's also that (Serrano) was on a whole other level. He teched everyone in the bracket, so he's just a step ahead of everyone.
"I wasn't mad at the loss," continued Pulliam. "I made mistakes and I was mad at those, but I wasn't mad at the loss. It definitely fired me up to come back and place and not just settle for seventh or eighth, I wanted to come back for third or fourth."
Pulliam bounced back form the loss with a decisive 13-2 win over Anthony DiBartolo from New York, before beating Washington's Drew Roberts 12-6. A win over Mosha Schwartz from Colorado by a score of 13-6 put Pulliam into the third place match and secured a top four finish. The Bulldog fell to Cael Happel from Iowa 11-1 in the match, but still earned a fourth place finish and All-American status.
"It felt pretty good because I worked really hard this year and put in hour of effort," said Pulliam of reaching his goal of being an All-American. "I was glad that it all paid off. I didn't go up there to come back without anything."
Rolla head coach Marty Hauck, who also coached team Missouri at the event, put this momentous milestone into perspective.
"In 1969, Rolla started a wrestling program and America landed on the moon," said Hauck. 50 years later for the first time in program history, Nate brings home to Rolla Wrestling its first stop sign All-America Status! What he did for a 50-year-old program is a big deal. There haven't been many All-Americans in school history and he's the only wrestler so far."
Pulliam is proud of the fact that he's already left a big mark on the Rolla wrestling program and he plans on continuing that for the next two years.
"I've thought about that a lot," said Pulliam on his place in Rolla wrestling history. "It's cool that I'm setting the bar a little bit higher than everyone else has the last few years. I like to see that my name is up there, but it would be cool to see someone at least get close, because it's sad not seeing everyone else join me."
Coach Hauck knows that Pulliam was able to accomplish this feat because he's so unbelievably dedicated to his craft and hopes his continues work pushes the rest of the program to improve with him.
"I am very proud of Nate and all of his hard work this offseason," said the Rolla head coach. "Obviously his hard work and dedication are playing off and that is so fun to watch as a coach. I am excited for him, his family, his teammates, all the coaches that worked with him and our program. His level continues to rise and he continues to see what he has to work on to get better, while continuing to raise the bar for everyone around him."
While Pulliam has already left a major mark on Rolla wrestling history, he isn't resting on his laurels. The Bulldog star plans on working even harder to take another step toward greatness this year.
"It shows me where I'm at for sure and it shows me how much harder I need to work to get to the next level," said Pulliam. "I know that I'll do that, because since my sixth grade year I've seen progress every year, I've never seen a decline. I want to keep that momentum going. Now I'm in a situation where I'm talking to colleges and I know I'm not just wrestling for my high school, but my soon to be college and I need to impress them. I need to keep stepping up on the ladder."