Grapplers Make Good Copy On and Off the Mat


Big T on the podium

by Jeff Olsen

His nickname should be T-Rex.

A week ago Friday just before noon, a report arrived from the Xcel Energy Center from Gary Przekwas, who was covering the State Wrestling Tournament for the Times-Region, mentioning this big Greenbush heavyweight, Treston Nichols, who had made a big impression in the opening round.

"He just headlocked and pinned the very good Chatfield heavyweight!"

The only way to get an answer in that noisy arena was to text Efrem Novacek, the Greenbush veteran assistant wrestling coach.

Is he a lumberjack or a bouncer? a question was texted from the Times Region.

Efrem texted back:

Auto mechanic and he doesn't use a jack!!!

On Sunday morning, BGMR head wrestling coach Isaac Novacek had stopped in Clearwater for breakfast.

The topic quickly centered on Treston Nichols, who had placed 4th at State and whose nickname is T.

"He weighs about 260 and is about as hard as a rock, very thick and very strong."

Who works out with him?

"Well, at the beginning of the year, it was me and then I couldn't do it anymore. He was too big and he was throwing me around like a rag doll."

That's when Coach Novacek brought in Ethan Waage as a member of the coaching staff.

Ethan, a good sized guy, placed 5th at state two years ago.

Isaac was a state champ and was asked if he could go with Nichols for a while.

"Yeah, I like to think I could. He would just grab me and toss my butt around."

Isaac, who now weighs about 165 pounds, commented that the big guy had a heckuva tournament.

"Obviously, he did get the third seed. We were kind of surprised by that but when you're dangerous like he is, he was bound to make some noise down there."

It was pointed out that T has a full beard.

"He almost looks Amish," said Isaac mentioning that T is either 17 or 18, and this is his second year of wrestling.

He had missed the last three weeks of competition a year ago because of an injury as a junior.

In the 3rd place finals, Mr. Nichols got pinned and placed 4th.

"That Ogilvie kid was massive! We heard he cut down from 315."

Initially, after getting pinned and finishing fourth, Treston was disappointed in himself.

"But he was very happy and very pleased. There's lots of kids who would give a lot to get a medal like that, and he gets his first and only trip to state. When he throws his headlock, the stadium floor rumbles."

On a video of his second straight pin via a headlock throw of his Minneapolis North High School opponent, Lamarcus Osborne, to advance to the semifinals, T had helped his opponent up from the mat.

Isaac was asked about that display of sportsmanship.

"For sure, he's a very kind kid, humble, and very relaxed."

Isaac, a three-time state placewinner - sixth, first and third in the lower weights - wrestled at 149 for Moorhead State.

He is not a coach who sits on a chair and blows a whistle.

He next turned his attention to Keegan VonEnde, a 114-pound freshman, who made his first trip to state.

"He started wrestling in 6th grade and has been in the room the last three years. So, this is his third year and his 2nd year on varsity. He's a strong kid, a farm kid, and he is a goer."

Over the two days of competition, Keegan won two matches and lost two and was very competitive.

"When you get down to State in the lightweights, most of these kids have wrestled their whole lives.

"He hasn't and it shows a little inexperience with him, but man did he battle down here. He wrestled tough. It was a tough weight class. He lost to kids that got third and fifth. They weren't slouches."

Keegan made a big impression in falling one win short of medaling.

"There's no doubt in my mind. I think he'll be back to State, and it was a great experience for him. I'm a firm believer that it takes one year down at State to get your feet wet a little bit."

Coach mentioned that when Keegan lost in the blood round, he was mad.

"He knew he was right there and got that close to a medal. He knows that he can work a little bit harder and put in a little more time. He's pretty hungry."

Who's his workout partner?

"I do a little bit. I'm a little big for him," he said, adding that Cody Brazier, who graduated in '08 is his main workout partner.

"He's a small guy."

Momentarily, he talked about his dad, Efrem, an old Greenbush wrestler and a 1985 graduate who has coached for 35 plus years.

"He said he was going to retire and then I had one coach say that he wasn't going to coach this year and I said, 'All right, Ef, you're back on. Your choice!' He's such a veteran coach who knows the game plan. He knows everything and is such a student of the sport."

Let's talk about Sarah Pulk, your repeat state girls champion.

"She's a workhorse. She's very task oriented, and she set a goal that she wants to be a five-time state champ, and she's well on her way."

He added that Sarah puts in a lot of time, doing extra wrestling and showing up for early morning workouts.

"She's buying into our program and she is doing so well."

Who's her workout partner?

"I do a lot of wrestling with Sarah. She has her sister now, who's in 7th grade, and of course, she works out with the boys a lot."

He estimated that Sarah went 4 & 0 on the boys varsity this season.

"The girls competition is getting even tougher, and we told her that. Girls wrestling is going to keep growing, and it is going to be really hard for her to stay ahead of the ball. She embraces those challenges and hits them head-on."

She surely does, having racked up a 32 & 1 record during her freshman year at girls wrestling tournaments.

Isaac talked about the 155 pound girls state final and Sarah's match with Shakopee junior Bella Suchta.

Sarah had defeated her in the Rumble finals, the section finals, and the state finals.

"It was typical Sarah Pulk fashion, the foot on the gas, not coasting, and a pretty dominating 4-1 win."

This past weekend, Gary Przekwas provided his take on Sarah's successful defense of her state title.

"She went right after that girl. She must have shot 5 or 6 times. She kept after the girl the whole time. You could tell she was in good condition. She didn't stop. She was awesome."

He added that he was very impressed with the Greenbush kids.

"They're well-conditioned, and that heavyweight was so impressive the first two matches. It was unbelievable. He went right after them. I'd never seen this kid before. Nichols got slammed in the third place match, and he just went limp. That was unfortunate."

Isaac was happy with the 8 victories against 4 defeats by the BGMR state competitors with Sarah Pulk leading the way with 3 straight victories, Treston with three victories against 2 defeats, and Keegan with 2 victories and 2 defeats.

"It's pretty uncommon to even go .500 down here with individuals."

The Game 8th Grader

Last Friday, Seth Cossentine was the only 8th grader in the Class 2A 145 pound weight class.

They were mostly sophomores to seniors with no freshmen. So, as an 8th grader, he was the youngest.

On Sunday, Coach Jim Mack felt Seth had received a good draw against New Ulm Area senior Winsten Nienhaus.

"We did our homework. We watched plenty of videos on his first round opponent and knew his style of wrestling."

However, he noted that the outcome they were looking for didn't happen.

Seth was pinned at the 5:36 mark of the 3rd period.

"We didn't lack any confidence going in, that's for sure. Turns out, we had a tough draw as the kid Seth lost to ended up losing his next match. Those two kids finished 3rd and 4th."

He remarked that what Seth has accomplished in the last two years as a 7th and 8th grader isn't just a coincidence.

"We've obviously done something right. I'm very happy for Seth and what he's accomplished."

And Coach Mack expects bigger things in the future.

"Seth will come back hungrier and ready as ever next season. No doubt in my mind that he'll place at State next year."

Seth finished the season with a record of 39 & 8.

Note: Photos by Heidi Pulk and Andy Przekwas with commentary from Gary Przekwas.


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