Franklin Regional grad Megaludis ready to wrestle on world stage
Technically, Nico Megaludis made an overseas trip earlier in his life.
He just doesn't see it that way.
“I've been to the Bahamas,” said Megaludis, a 2011 Franklin Regional graduate. “But that doesn't count.”
Depending on your perspective, Megaludis will make his first — or second — overseas trip when he competes in freestyle wrestling at the 27th University Summer Games, which will be held July 6-17 in Kazan, Russia.
This experience undoubtedly means something for Megaludis, a rising junior at Penn State.
“I can't wait,” Megaludis said. “It'll be nice to go battle it out with other people from other countries and hopefully get to show them what the U.S. is made out of.”
It will be the first international competition for Megaludis, who aspires to wrestle in the Olympics one day.
“I think this is a great experience for Nico,” Franklin Regional wrestling coach Eric Mausser said. “He works extremely hard, and he's very goal-oriented. He wants to get to that international level, and this is the first step for him to do that. He has aspirations of making that 2016 Olympic team, and I think this is a great opportunity for him to go overseas and wrestle some of the best.”
Megaludis will wrestle at 55 kilograms, or 121 pounds, in Russia. He earned his spot on the U.S. team after winning the ASICS University Freestyle Championship in Akron, Ohio, in late May.
Along with Megaludis, two other Penn State wrestlers earned spots on the seven-member U.S. team: David Taylor at 74 kg/163 pounds and Ed Ruth at 84 kg/185 pounds. Penn State associate head coach Cody Sanderson also will accompany the wrestlers overseas.
The group expected to leave Sunday from Harrisburg and make stops in Washington D.C., Frankfurt, Germany, and Moscow before a six-day training camp in Vladikavkaz, Russia. Freestyle wrestling in the University Games is scheduled to begin July 12.
Megaludis won't be the only former Franklin Regional athlete competing in Kazan. Samantha Pickens, a Franklin Regional graduate and rising senior at the University of Arizona, will compete in diving.
“I'm happy that she's going over and hope the best for her over there,” Megaludis said.
Megaludis, who won four WPIAL and three PIAA titles while at Franklin Regional, will compete at the University Games more than three months after his second-place finish at 125 pounds in the NCAA Championships. It was his second straight second-place finish, though Penn State went on to win its third consecutive NCAA title in wrestling.
Megaludis said he was disappointed by the second-place finish at NCAAs, and the loss caused him to focus on his technique during offseason training.
“Although this is one of the worst feelings I've ever felt this year, I know it's definitely been the best loss for me that's ever happened,” he said. “It's just really made me sit back and take a break from pounding, training, just going, going, going. Now, (I'm) focusing more on technique. And of course I'm still getting after it in the room, but I'm focusing more on technique, which I believe is going to make me a national champ next year.”
First things first, however: Megaludis is hoping to take gold in Russia.
He said he plans to wrestle at a high pace in order to take his opponents out of their comfort zone.
“I've got to wrestle my match,” he said. “A lot of the foreigners, they can get tired more easily than U.S. guys. Conditioning's always been one of my better things and wearing the opponents down, so I've just got to do that and stick with my high pace of a match instead of bringing it down to a slower pace where the foreigners want (it).
“I've just got to go in there and wrestle smart but wrestle my pace and not let them slow me down.”
Megaludis is confident that following that strategy will allow him to succeed at the University Games.
“I believe when I wrestle my ‘A' game, things will go well,” he said. “(I'll) put it that way. I've just got to wrestle with my tenacious style, I guess, keep on getting after it.”