The left side of Ben Nordstrom's body has sure given him issues the past two years around this time.
He is now dealing with tendinitis in his left elbow. The pain he can tolerate, more so than the two tears he suffered in his left shoulder last year.
Through the latest setback, Nordstrom keeps wrestling for Newport Harbor High.
At one point last year, he couldn't compete with a bad shoulder, even if his head said he could. He contemplated snapping his shoulder, so he could put on the singlet right away.
Nordstrom played it safe and let his shoulder heal naturally. He still made the trip to the CIF Southern Section Inland Division preliminaries as an alternate, just to see the action.
"Ben's a very tough individual. He will battle through any injury," Coach Dominic Bulone said. "He's banged up a little bit. If I told him to practice, he'd practice. He's going until he falls apart. It's good to teach someone like him that it's OK to rest from time to time."
Nordstrom will take it easy when his senior season ends. The 160-pounder plans to keep it going until he reaches his goal, the CIF State finals in Bakersfield next month.
Nordstrom moved a step closer after placing second at the Sunset League finals last week. The finish qualified him for the CIF Southern Section Inland Division preliminaries on Feb. 17 at Roosevelt High in Corona.
Bulone has been through this road, knowing Nordstrom has this tournament and another before the state meet.
Bulone believes Nordstrom (21-7, 10 pins) has what it takes to get to state. Nordstrom must place in the top five to qualify for the CIF Southern Section Masters meet, the precursor to state.
Bulone and Nordstrom are taking it one meet at a time. Bulone hasn't even told his wrestler whom he might have to get past during the preliminaries to advance to the next stage, the finals the following day.
Bulone might never inform Nordstrom.
"He wrestles his best, when he just says, 'Whoever is in front of me, I'm going to beat [him],'" Bulone said. "I have a sense of who the good guys are, but it won't really matter when you get out there. If his mind-set is right, he'll take care of business.
"Ben has a lot of heart and he'll push himself to the limit, and I know that he can beat anyone that steps in front of him. I've seen it already this year and I know it's in him."
Nordstrom pulled off an upset in the league finals.
Nordstrom faced a kid, whose first name was Stone, in the semifinals. It marked the first meeting between Nordstrom and Fountain Valley's Stone Escobedo.
Nordstrom missed the Sailors' league dual meet against the Barons with an elbow injury. Nordstrom showed up to watch Escobedo dominate Newport Harbor's backup.
"Just saw how fluid he was," said Nordstrom, adding that seeing Escobedo didn't really help him. "It's different when you're on the mat than when're you're watching."
When Nordstrom got his shot at Escobedo, he recorded an 11-3 major decision. The result pushed him into the final against Los Alamitos' Max Kumashiro.
The matchup posed a problem for Nordstrom. He's usually stronger than his opponent is, but Kumashiro is judo trained. Kumashiro won, not by much, a 6-1 decision.
Nordstrom always seems to give himself a chance at winning.
"He uses his strength a lot when he's on the top and bottom position to his advantage," Bulone said. "[At] neutral, he's pretty good at shutting people down, keeping the score close."
If Nordstrom can stay within striking distance, he can surpass his two older brothers.
Both Eric and Craig wrestled under Bulone for the Sailors, but the two never made it to Masters. Bulone said the youngest Nordstrom stood out from the start.
"Great athlete from Day 1, compared to his brothers," Bulone said. "It took [Eric and Craig] a couple of years to get out of their shell.
"They both were in medal contention [to advance to Masters], but didn't pull it off. I have hopes for [Ben]."
Born: May 26, 1993
Hometown: Costa Mesa
Weight: 160 pounds
Coach: Dominic Bulone
Favorite food: Steak
Favorite movie: "Warrior"
Favorite athletic moment: "I think just the overall wrestling."
Week in review: Nordstrom placed second as a 160-pounder at the Sunset League finals and qualified for the CIF Southern Section Inland Division preliminaries on Feb. 17.