Two area wrestlers set recordsFor four years, Superior’s Nikola “Niko” Bogojevic and Northwestern’s Nathan Nelson have carried the flags for their wrestling teams. On Saturday at the 27th annual Superior Wrestling Classic, the seniors rewrote their schools’ record books.
For four years, Superior’s Nikola “Niko” Bogojevic and Northwestern’s Nathan Nelson have carried the flags for their wrestling teams.
On Saturday at the 27th annual Superior Wrestling Classic, the seniors rewrote their schools’ record books.
Heavyweight Bogojevic claimed a third tournament championship with a 5-0 mark and climbed atop the Spartan career win list with 112, breaking Robert Murphy’s total of 109 set last year. Nelson, a 130-pounder, claimed his fourth Superior Classic title and his five victories pushed him to 130 career wins for the Tigers, besting Zac Martinson’s mark of 128.
Eau Claire Memorial won the team title with 167.5 points, while Northwestern was second with 161.5.
Bogojevic made quick work of four opponents, pinning them by a combined 1:19 and winning the tourney’s quick pin title.
It’s that grappling prowess that attracted interest from Division I schools Wisconsin, Michigan and Purdue. He recently chose the Badgers.
“I’ve been representing Wisconsin [at Greco-Roman tournaments] for about seven years — since I was a little kid — so I didn’t really feel right about anyone else,” said Bogojevic, who visited the Madison campus on Oct. 23.
“We’re very excited that he’s going to wrestle for [coach] Barry Davis and the Badgers,” said Superior coach Bill Gedde. “We’ve felt for quite some time that he’s a Division I kid, and his work ethic is just tops of any kid that I’ve ever seen at the high school level. I’m not sure the Badgers even realize what a blue-chipper they really have until they get him in the practice room. He’s really something special.”
Although Bogojevic excels as a folkstyle high school wrestler, his strength is Greco-Roman wrestling. Last year, he won the junior national Greco-Roman title in Fargo, N.D.
“When you go to Fargo and you win the junior nationals, you’re wrestling the best high school kids in the nation,” Gedde said. “He’s been competing on the big stage for several years, so he has this incredible composure that other kids just don’t ever experience.”
But changing gears from Greco-Roman wrestling during the summer to folkstyle in the winter can be a tough adjustment.
“He struggles to make the transition from Greco to folkstyle, so now we’re getting him to understand the concept of creating angles and working the heavyweight bear hug in conjunction with his single leg attack,” Gedde said. “At the collegiate level in folkstyle, you’ve got to have leg attacks.”
By employing a more diversified attack, Bogojevic hopes he can claim a longtime goal that has eluded him.
“I want to win that state championship,” said Bogojevic, a former state participant currently ranked No. 2 at 285 by Wisconsin Wrestling Online. “I’m mentally tougher this year. I’m moving around more. I’m not just going to go straight at you and push you. I’m going to create an angle and grab your leg.”
Like Bogojevic at Superior, Nelson also plans to continue competing at the collegiate level. He will attend Division I-AA Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., next fall and try out for the school’s wrestling team.
“I went to a wrestling camp there last summer and I really liked it,” said Nelson, who plans to study youth ministry. “They have a great campus, a great facility and really good people there.”
But before Nelson packs his bags for Virginia, he’d like to book a trip to Madison.
“He broke 100 wins last year as a junior,” said Northwestern coach Bob Coleman. “There aren’t too many guys who have won 100 matches in their careers and haven’t made a state tournament. He’s just had tough weight classes.”
So, Nelson, who is ranked 11th in the state, has focused on improving his takedowns in hopes of reaching that next level.
“This year I’ve changed my stance,” he said. “I used to go with a square stance, and I was a little slower on my shots when I would do that, so I’ve gone to a staggered stance and I’m able to shoot in faster and set up my shots better.”
Coleman said the reason Nelson has piled up 130 wins — and counting — is due in large part to his attitude and work ethic.
“He’s gotten to where he is at today, first of all, because of coachability,” Coleman said. “Second of all, he is willing to work harder than any other guy and he tries different things. Those characteristics have made him able to break that record.
“His heart and his work ethic are comparable to none.”