Athlete of Week: NMB’s Livingston ruling on mat

North Myrtle Beach High two-sport standout Kwame Livingston didn’t have much time to make the transition from the football field to the wrestling mat. As it turns out, he didn’t need it.

After leading the Chiefs football team to its first undefeated regular season and a trip to the third round of the Class 4A playoffs, Livingston was in the gym the following Monday looking to start another quest for a state championship. So far so good as Livingston is off to a 24-0 start and a No. 2 state ranking.

“It’s been a pretty smooth transition mainly because I have a passion for both (sports),” said Livingston, who was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week for his strong start on the mat. “I believe football keeps me in condition for wrestling and they both require a lot of hard work, but I couldn’t pick between them because I love them both.”

Not only did the senior defensive lineman come into the wrestling season in top shape, but he also channeled his energy into the sport as a way of getting over a disappointing end to a record-setting football season. His hopes to win a state title in football have simply rolled over into a wrestling season that has championship potential.

“The night we lost (to Berkeley in the Lower State semifinals) it was hard to take at first, but then you realize it’s not the end for you,” Livingston said. “Now I can look back on it and be proud of what we accomplished, but at the time I just put my heart into wrestling. I was at practice the next Monday. I just jumped right in.”

Livingston landed in his comfort zone on the mat, winning the West Brunswick Invitational and keeping his perfect record intact. Despite being outweighed by most of his opponents in the 285-pound division, the 6-foot-2, 250-pound Livingston uses a wide variety of skills to more than hold his own against heavier competition.

“I want to be one of the most athletic wrestlers at my weight class that you’re going to see,” said Livingston, who is currently weighing his options to play football or wrestle – or both – at a four-year college to pursue a business degree. “I have the right combination of strength, technique and conditioning to overcome their size.”

Livingston is currently gearing up for a deep playoff run, both for his team and as an individual. The Chiefs are ranked No. 12 in the state, and Livingston is a favorite to improve on his third-place showing last season. Either way, he has his eyes on the ultimate prize and knows this is his last chance to grab it.

“That’s the goal right now, for me and my team – to leave here with some great memories and, of course, win that ring,” Livingston said. “I want to bring back something nice for my coach and the school. Last year I got close but lost in the state semifinals, so what’s motivating me now is to get back there and finish it this time.”

Editors Note: Due to the winter storm that canceled schools and sporting events, there was no Athlete of the Week voting for Jan. 7-13. Voting will return next week. Make your nominations by clicking the Mammy’s AOW ad on the GSSR home page.

Photo by Louis E. Keiner

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