Athlete of the Week: Brandon Nifong (Nov. 13-18)

ROCKINGHAM — Brandon Nifong has been named the Daily Journal’s Athlete of the Week for the week of Monday, Nov. 13.

Nifong is a senior for the Richmond wrestling team who went undefeated in Saturday’s season-opening meet, pinning all four his opponents and winning by forfeit against Lumberton. He took down Crew Allred (Asheboro), Jawon Hough (Anson) and Gage Thompson (Douglas Byrd) in the 182-pound weight class and then moved up a class to beat Jafet Machado (Southwestern Randolph).

His performance helped Richmond finish third overall in the eight-team meet.

“I just tried to stay focused. I listened to music and shut myself away,” Nifong said. “I just envisioned what moves I was going to do. I knew my game plan going in and it happened to work.”

The senior wrestler has embraced the leadership role as the Raiders — who lost a chunk of their production from last season — have a very young lineup and will have to “pick up the slack and reload” in his final year on the mat.

His goal is for the team to become a close-knit group, so that after he graduates the remaining wrestlers will be able to rely on one another as they grow and improve. An individual goal of his to place in the state and “win a bunch of matches.”

Once his high school days are up, Nifong hopes to continue wrestling in college while pursuing a career as a physical therapist.

“I’d love to go to ECU because they have a great club team,” he said. “App State is the real deal for Division II, so I’d love to wrestle for them, too.”

Nifong will be putting his unblemished record on the line when the Raiders travel to Asheboro High on Saturday for another multi-team meet.

“I just make sure that every day practice I’m going as hard as I can — whether it’s running or just doing the simple workouts,” he said. “When I first started (wrestling), it was a lot of playing around. Now, all the time, I’m just focused and staying serious.”

Below are Nifong’s answers to two of the questions presented by the Daily Journal:

Q: What would be your first purchase if you won the lottery?

A: My first purchase would be a Louis Vuitton bag, just so I could flex.

Q: Who’s your biggest influence?

A: It’s got to be my middle school baseball coach, Allen Adeimy, at Ellerbe. He always told me that I could do anything, be anything, and I’d be great.