Superior wrestler puts unbeaten mark on line at stateEvery wrestler dreams of completing wrestling’s Triple Crown — winning state, college and Olympic titles.
By: By Rick Lubbers, Duluth News Tribune , Superior Telegram
Every wrestler dreams of completing wrestling’s Triple Crown — winning state, college and Olympic titles.
Nikola Bogojevic’s goals are no different, but unlike most wrestlers, the Superior heavyweight (285-pound weight class) has an excellent shot at putting a check next to that first goal this weekend at the Wisconsin state wrestling tournament. Northwestern’s Ryan Miesbauer (215) and Nathan Nelson (130) and Ashland’s Jack Pearce (112) also hope to bring state titles back to Northwestern Wisconsin.
Bogojevic, the state’s top-ranked Division 1 heavyweight, puts his 44-0 record on the line against Seth Brandt of Reedsburg Area at 3 p.m. today at the Kohl Center in Madison. Brandt is 31-8 and ranked No. 12 by Wisconsin Wrestling Online.
A victory would put “Niko” in a quarterfinal match later this evening. State finals are scheduled to begin Saturday at 6 p.m.
Fresh off winning a sectional championship last week, Bogojevic, according to Spartan coach Bill Gedde, is primed to face Wisconsin’s best heavyweights this weekend.
“He is just hitting on all cylinders, in every position,” Gedde said. “On his feet, he has tremendous takedowns and hasn’t given up a takedown this year. On the bottom, it doesn’t appear that anybody can hold him down. On top, he rides well and can put people on their backs.”
Which is where most of Bogojevic’s opponents end up.
Gedde said motivation hasn’t been a problem for Bogojevic, who turned disappointment at last year’s state tourney into a fierce focus. He lost his first match and was eliminated.
“Last year we felt Niko was one of the top three or four in the state, but he didn’t get a chance to advance through,” Gedde said. “Right after that, Niko was just focused. He said, ‘That’s it, I want that state title.’
“Since then he’s won a national title [2009 USAW Junior Greco-Roman Nationals], so he’s been on a bigger stage than he’s going to be at this weekend. But he wants this one badly.”
His closest match of the season came in last Saturday’s sectional final against No. 2-ranked Evan Knutson (47-2) of Wausau West. Bogojevic won 2-1, but controlled the match, according to Gedde, and never let Knutson mount much of a challenge.
Those two are placed on opposite ends of the state bracket, but Bogojevic said he’d love another match with Knutson.
“We’ll probably meet again, if everything goes well, in the finals,” he said. “I want that state title. I feel great, there’s nothing else that I could do to prepare myself. I’m just ready for it.”
The Northwestern senior (38-4) is ranked sixth in Division 2 at 130 and is making his first state tournament appearance. But Nelson drew a tough assignment in the first round — No. 2-ranked Cullan Morrissey (40-1) of Oconto Falls. They meet at 7:15 p.m. today
“Nathan does have his hands full, but at the sectional [Saturday] he lost to the runner-up in the state last year 2-0 in the finals,” said Northwestern wrestling coach Bob Coleman. “He could have beat him. Once you get to state, records are 0-0.”
Nelson, who is Northwestern’s all-time winningest wrestler, said his strategy will be the same for the state meet as it is for any other match.
“I’m just going to go out there and wrestle my match, make him wrestle my style,” Nelson said. “I’ve never liked to hold back, so I’m not going to let him control the match. I’m going to go out there and give it all I’ve got, and whatever happens, happens.”
Competing in his second state tourney, the Northwestern senior received a first-round bye as a reward for winning his 215-pound Division 2 section championship last week and won’t wrestle until Friday at 11:15 a.m.
Ranked fifth with a 39-1 record (the most wins in a single season in school history), Miesbauer aims to make this year’s trip to Madison more enjoyable. Last year he went 1-2.
“I’ve become a better overall wrestler [in the past year]. I’m able to control a match better than I was,” Miesbauer said.
“Ryan has really come on in the last year,” Coleman said. “He has really found himself and turned into a very solid wrestler. He understands the sport better, he understands the strategies. He just has expanded his horizons to different moves. He’s improved mentally 100-fold, which I believe has helped him in his other sports, too.”
Ashland’s super-sophomore (38-1) enters the 112-bracket as the second-ranked wrestler. He also received a bye and will wrestle Friday at 11:15 a.m. Pearce went 1-2 at last year’s state tourney at 103.