Road Warrior: Sem’s Bouzakis has faced many challenges since he first wrestled in Florida

Updated: November 27, 2021


Photo: Nic Bouzakis of Wyoming Seminary is the nation’s top-ranked high school wrestler at 132 pounds. He opened his final high school season with a Super 32 Challenge championship belt and showed off the “Team Greco” red stocking cap that he still wears to honor his late brother. 

By Mike Finn

Nic Bouzakis faced a dilemma that many high school wrestlers faced last year, when the pandemic faced some prep programs to cancel the high school season. That was the case with Wyoming Seminary, where Bouzakis had transferred to in 2019 after first winning three Florida state championships at Highland Prep in Tampa (Florida allows junior high wrestlers to compete at the high school level).

Nic’s father, Troy, a former high school and college wrestler, found employment and moved his family to the Keystone State. Last year, Troy and other Sem wrestling families came up with a solution to the pandemic-caused roadblock.

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“The families that lived up here came together, got some money together and bought a wrestling room off campus so we could train and do what we needed to do to continue to be the best,” recalled Nic, a 132-pound senior and the oldest of two Bouzakis siblings who wrestle for this successful prep wrestling program in Kingston, Pa. (Brother Vincent is a 126-pound freshman.)

This was also at a time when Wyoming Seminary students were taking classes on-line … from anywhere in the country. That led to another road-trip for the Bouzakis family.

“My father and brother and I took three months and traveled, hitting different wrestling rooms in Missouri, Indiana and Texas,” Nic recalled. “We went to a whole bunch of places, training to get better and it worked out in the end.”

Unfortunately, Nic was unable to defend his National Prep championship of 2020 after the 85th annual event was delayed until last May.

But Nic has more than overcame that disappointment, especially in Greensboro, N.C., Oct. 23-24, when he won the 132-pound championship. A few weeks later, he learned he was part of the nation’s No. 1 college recruiting class at Ohio State.

“I honestly believe it will be the best recruiting class of all-time,” said WIN’s top-ranked wrestler at 132 pounds. He’ll be joined by the likes of 2021 Junior Hodge winner Jesse Mendez and Nicholas Feldman, who are also ranked No. 1, respectively, at 138 pounds and heavyweight. “I feel like we are going to come in and work hard and do the best we can.”

It has been a roller-coaster prep career for this young man who also won Cadet and Junior National championships in Greco-Roman and represented the United States at the 2021 Junior World Championships, where he went 1-1.

“I think this career has had its ups and downs,” Nic said. “A lot of my story has pain, but determination is a good word to describe my career. I hit a lot of hard stuff in my life but I got back up and kept on going.”

Nic Bouzakis, who committed to Buckeye coach Tom Ryan in late September, said the OSU head coach’s story played a big part in him choosing Ohio State.

Ryan, who has headed up the Ohio State program since 2006, of course is known for losing his five-year-old son, Teague, who died unexpectedly in 2004 from a heart ailment while Tom was the head coach at Hofstra.

“I had heard this story my eighth-grade year, when I was up in Ohio at a prospect camp,” recalled Bouzakis. “(Coach Ryan) and I sort of bonded over the pain and hardships that we had both felt. And when the recruiting process began, it seemed to strengthen the bond.

“We sort of understood where we both are coming from and how we want to honor our loved ones and be the best person we can because we know it could definitely be taken away tomorrow.”

Bouzakis was talking about his younger brother — named Greco Roman — who died in 2016 from brain cancer after battling the disease since 2013.

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