GVSU wrestling All-American Harun Bogdanic leads team to Nationals run

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU Club Sports

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU Club Sports

Kellen Voss

As this wrestling season is coming to an end, the Grand Valley State club wrestling team is starting to hit its stride at the perfect time. In their final dual meet of the season this past weekend, GVSU came back from being down 15-0 to beat Davenport University 19-18.

Victories from Brady Bischer and Brendan DeVries helped fuel the epic comeback, which was completed by senior wrestler Harun Bogdanic.

He scored three takedowns, a set of 4 near-fall points, an escape and an advantage time point to record a major decision victory, giving 4 more total points to GVSU and securing the victory for the Lakers.

This is not the first time the wrestling team has looked to Bogdanic to take the lead, as he is seen as the vocal leader during practice, helping his teammates whenever he can.

“He’s a pretty vocal guy; he works pretty hard, and he certainly leads by example in a lot of ways,” said coach Rick Bolhuis. “A lot of guys around him really respond to his hard work and energy. He does a great job getting our guys going, and I love that about him.”

Bogdanic is a talented wrestler, and he has the hardware to prove it. He is a two-time returning All-American, and he is looking to make a third appearance.

Bogdanic and his team have been doing well as this regular season comes to a close. He is not the only returning All-American on the squad, as GVSU’s roster also features Brendan Hazelton, a two-time All-American at 125 pounds, and Nick Reddy, an All-American last year at 133 pounds.

“I definitely think we have overachieved this year,” Bogdanic said. “We were nervous going into this season after losing some talented wrestlers who graduated last year, but I thought our guys have really stepped up.”

Bogdanic was the 2016 GLC Conference champ at the 235-pound weight class and was runner-up in the conference in 2017. Despite all these accolades, coach Bolhuis still sees a fire in Bogdanic’s eyes that isn’t going out any time soon.

“He’s a great wrestler, and he lost in the finals last year to an opponent he had previously beaten, so he was so close to being a repeat champion,” Bolhuis said. “He’s been on the podium, and he’s been on teams that have won trophies, but I think if you asked him, he’d say he has some unfinished business to take care of.”

Bogdanic agreed, as he has been training hard to take back the title he thinks is rightfully his. After dealing with some injury issues early in the year, he feels like he is hitting his stride at the perfect time.

“I suffered a high-ankle sprain in the beginning of the year, so adding that on to not wrestling for three or four months was a rough way to start,” Bogdanic said. “But based on the way my past 10 matches have gone, since I got my ankle taken care of, I feel like I’ve been doing really well.”

Bogdanic got into wrestling much later than most guys, having never wrestled competitively until his junior year of high school. He has lots of experience in both judo and wrestling, however, including starting his college career at Davenport University before transferring to GVSU.

“Wrestling at DU wasn’t the best place for me, so I reached out to coach Bolhuis here at GVSU,” Bogdanic said. “He was more than happy to have me join the team, so I transferred here, not just to wrestle, but also because GV has a great supply tool management program, which is my major.”

With all the success Bogdanic has seen here in his career, it might be justified for him to let the success go to his head. But he is a fairly humble athlete, as evidenced by his favorite wrestling moment here at GVSU being centered around another teammate.

“My first year here at GVSU, we upset a really good team in the quarterfinal, and one of my buddies on the team ended up winning the match to secure our win, and our entire bench erupted,” Bogdanic said. “Even though we ended up losing in the finals of that tourney, I loved that experience because it improved us as wrestlers and brought our team closer together.”

In all the matches he has wrestled here in Allendale, Bogdanic has managed to learn a lesson that many men will never learn: patience.

“You can’t rush anything,” Bogdanic said. “When it comes to school or the wrestling room, you really got to put your mind on the grind and work hard.”

As the regular season of wrestling comes to a close, the Lakers prepare to fine-tune their skills and get prepared for Nationals. The Lakers will host Nationals this year on Saturday, Feb. 24, at 9 a.m., and Bogdanic and his team are excited and ready to kick some tail.

“I think we’re more than ready, especially after our team win over Davenport when we had four people out; our backups stepped up, and we really showed off our depth,” Bogdanic said. “We’ve been working really hard, and I can’t wait to go full throttle at Nationals.”