05/09/13 — Quillen taking wrestling talents to UNC Pembroke

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Quillen taking wrestling talents to UNC Pembroke

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 9, 2013 1:47 PM

Watch Nick Quillen on the wrestling mat and you'll find a combination of things he's learned throughout his stellar prep career at Rosewood.

There is the technique he's learned from previous lightweights while working out in the wrestling room. You see the passion, desire and determination to excel in a sport that is built on failure as much as it is success.

And Quillen, undoubtedly, has excelled so far.

The two-time state champion will expand on his talents next season after he signed a national letter-of-intent with UNC Pembroke.

"The coaching staff saw me wrestle at states in Greensboro and then nationals," Quillen said. "As soon as I visited, I fell in love with the campus and I like how they work with you school-wise. It's Division II, but not a like a big school where you have 300 people in a class.

"You have smaller classes (at UNCP) and attention put on you where you can get the education that you need. I also get to wrestle at the next level at one of the best college programs in North Carolina."

Quillen joins a team that finished 8-7 in dual-team competition and sent four grapplers to the national tournament this past winter. UNCP is projected to return four 125-pounders, which will have a combined five years of experience under their belts.

A starting spot might not be available.

Then again, the 125-pound Quillen doesn't mind.

"If I don't make the starting lineup, hopefully I can be at a level where I can push the starter so he can perform at his best and make a statement for our team," Quillen said. "I feel like I'm strong enough, I've just got to get a little bit smarter ... get more into my game and work out some kinks so I can compete at that level."

Quillen dominated wrestlers with his quick feet and tenacity on takedowns during his junior and senior seasons. He prevailed in 120 of 121 matches and recorded pins during more than half of them.

Working from bottom is a weakness that opponents exposed when Quillen competed in the nationals. He experienced difficulty breaking free and turning the tempo in his favor.

"I was never on bottom that much in high school," grinned Quillen.

Confident in his ability with a swagger to match, Quillen helped lead Rosewood to an eastern regional championship and runner-up finish in the 2009 N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A dual-team playoffs. The Eagles have won 100-plus dual matches during his four-year varsity career.

Quillen never anticipated setting school and Wayne County records. The achievements are humbling for the athlete, whose career started in the Little Eagles program.

"When I used to watch (alums) Chris Hare, Jim Bish and Zach Behrend, I always said I wished I could be as good as them," Quillen said. "They were all great wrestlers and I have a little piece of each of them in me that has made me better."