Nolan Badovinac has always been a person to rise to a challenge. The grade 12 Alberni wrestler did that again last weekend at the Junior National Wrestling Championships at Brock University.
Despite being a 17-year-old juvenile wrestler the local high school champion from ADSS was selected to wrestle at the Junior Nationals for athletes 19-20 years of age. Badovinac pulled off a silver medal against the big boys.
“What Nolan accomplished doing so well at the Junior Nationals is truly remarkable,” observed an enthusiastic Alberni Wrestling director Tom McEvay.
“Not only was he giving up a critical age difference, he was also wrestling at 84 kg when he walks around at about 80 kg and most of his opponents were coming down from 90 kg or heavier. These are big men, with college wrestling experience who Nolan beat to make the final.”
In the 84 kg final Badovinac met Burnaby’s Ajay Gill and the differences caught up to him. Gill overpowered Badovinac and did not give him the opportunity to use some of his offensive weapons. One of those weapons is a wicked ability to throw and the Alberni boy did catch Gill with one spectacular 4 point throw, the only points scored on Gill the entire Nationals.
“Nolan’s strategy against Gill was to tie him up and look for the throw,” said Alberni coach James Messenger, “but he quickly realized Gill was too big and too strong to control in that situation, but by the Gill had built up a sizable lead. This is great experience for Nolan since at his own age group he can usually dictate the style of match he wants. Nolan loves to be pushed, in fact he thrives on it and this gives him the opportunity to develop to the next level.”
In order to reach the final on Friday Badovinac had to beat some tough opponents and he showed it will be difficult to deny him a Junior title in the next two years. These included Brock’s Ignatius Pitt, a wrestler who competed at 90 kg throughout the college season and cut to 84 kg for the Nationals. Badovinac built an early lead against Pitt and won 9-7. In the semi -final he beat favoured Joban Phulka of Hamilton with a throw and a pin late in a close match.
With Badovinac’s young age and lighter stature there was some discussion about him cutting to the lighter 74 kg weight class but the BC coaches and his own Alberni coaches agreed it was best for his health and development to stick with the 84 kg weight. “The Junior Nationals were not Nolan’s focus this year. They were an opportunity to learn and be pushed after a season of dominating at the high school level in BC,” stated Messenger.
Meanwhile, Badovinac’s focus is now on winning a National title at his own Juvenile age group. Badovinac will head to Fredericton New Brunswick with Team BC April 9-12 for the Cadet/Juvenile Nationals. He will be joined by his brother Aaron who will compete as a first year Cadet for 15-16 year olds and ADSS teammate Michel Kurucz who, like Nolan, is in her last year of Juvenile. Nolan is a two time National Cadet champion but last year was injured and unable to finish his first National Juveniles.
Letters are going out this week from Alberni Wrestling to service clubs and others asking for financial assistance in meeting the expenses of getting their 3 wrestlers to Fredericton. “It couldn’t be further away and tickets alone are close to $1500 each. The expense for these Nationals will be $6,000-$8,000 and these families will have to cover most of this,” said McEvay, “Amateur sport in Canada is not well funded so athletes and families and their local clubs are left with footing the bills. Our club will help as much as we can but if anyone wishes to help please contact me at 250-724-0577 or email firstname.lastname@example.org . “
– submitted by Tom McEvay