Home Play Nate Johnson Memorial tries to match his zest for life

Nate Johnson Memorial tries to match his zest for life

The Nate Johnson Memorial tournament at Red Mountain honors a former Mountain Lion wrestler who died in a car accident. (Red Mountain athletics)

Nate Johnson had his life cut short, but not without leaving an impression at Red Mountain.

Johnson, who died in a car accident on Brown Road in October of 1990 at the age of 17, wrestled for the Mountain Lions and was an equipment manager for the football team before the accident.

The news of his death hit the school hard, and not just because it was another sign of how fleeting life can be, but because Johnson, who was a state qualifier at 103, had one of those personalities that everyone is drawn to and he didn’t shy from it.

He embraced it and made plenty of friends.

“He was not the best looking guy, not the most popular, but he took the time to talk to everybody,” his mother, Dany, said at the time to the Phoenix Gazette. “He sure had a zest for life.”

It’s one of the reasons a decision was made to honor him with the Nate Johnson Memorial wrestling tournament, which takes place Friday and Saturday at Red Mountain.

The 20-team, two-pool dual meet tournament has become one of the top early season events of the year and this year should be no different with several quality teams participating.

The new-look Chandler lineup after the transfer of the Grove brothers from McClintock where they won three state titles each, defending Division I champion Corona del Sol, Division II power Cienega and Red Mountain should be in contention for the final four spots Saturday afternoon.

Every team competes against the other nine teams in its pool. Then the final round of the tournament has each pool placement facing its counterpart in the other pool (10 vs. 10, 9 vs. 9, … 1 vs. 1) with the final round starting around 2 p.m.

Here is a look at how the pools shape up:

Pool A


Desert Mountain

Marcos de Niza

Paradise Valley

Red Mountain






Pool B

Corona del Sol

San Luis

American Leadership (Queen Creek)





Mountain Pointe





9 a.m. –  Round 1

10 a.m.  –  Round 2

11 a.m.  –  Round 3

1  p.m.  –  Round 4

2 p.m.  –  Round 5


9 a.m. –  Round 6

10 a.m.  –  Round 7

11 a.m.  –  Round 8

1 p.m.  –  Round 9

2 p.m.  –  Round 10

– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to jskoda@mynewsmesa.com.

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