Forward Momentum

SHS’s Nicolar Rivera wins third state title and announces commitment to wrestle at UW-Madison

SHS is known for its wrestling program. If one should peer up at the mounted sports plaques in the main gym that indicate various wins, they would see that the wrestling program has white lettering in abundance. Each year, SHS wrestling works with talented athletes, many of whom go on to wrestle in a variety of highly-esteemed college programs. This year, SHS is saying “goodbye” to a name that has become widely known and respected in the wrestling community–a name that earned a final state win in Feb. to wrap it all up: Nicolar Rivera.
Senior Nicolar Rivera has been wrestling since he was six years old, and he was first introduced to the sport by his father. Little did Rivera know that wrestling would come to change his life and make him an incredibly decorated athlete by the age of 18.
Rivera has many titles, wins, and awards under his belt, and recently he managed to secure a final title to close out his high-school wrestling career. In Feb., Rivera clinched his third state title, coming first in his weight class.
“The title I won this year was well worked for. […] Ever since my loss in the state finals [last season] I’ve been very motivated,” Rivera says.
After experiencing his first and only high-school-career losses last year, both of them to the same opponent, Rivera made sure he would never face the disappointing feeling again. He certainly accomplished his goal, finishing this year with a 55-0 record and his overall high school career with a notable 181-2.
Rivera’s successes this season have a lot to do with his hard work and talent, though he attributes much of his success to the program with which he wrestles.
“The Stoughton culture is the reason I have been winning,” Rivera says. “It is a winning culture and the things we do at practice are the reasons our team has been so successful for all these years.”
Rivera’s success during his high school career has been undeniable and has caught the attention of many, including recruiters at the college level. After securing his first-place title at individual state, Rivera decided to announce that he would be continuing his wrestling career in college. In a dramatic reveal that resulted in excited applause from spectators, Rivera broke the news by proudly holding up a red shirt displaying the characteristic Wisconsin Badger “W.”
“Revealing my commitment to the crowd after I won state was like a dream,” Rivera says. “It felt amazing. […] The chills I got when the crowd roared, […] [that] was the best feeling in the world.”
Rivera’s decision to wrestle for the Wisconsin Badgers has been met with nothing but excitement and support, according to the athlete, and he’s ready to continue his career in a different environment.
“I’m feeling great about my commitment–very excited–and I know going to UW is going to change my life for the best,” Rivera says. “It’s very close to home, my teammates are awesome, and the coaching style will get me to the next level.”
As Rivera implies, a wrestling program wouldn’t be worthwhile without good coaches. Luckily, SHS doesn’t struggle in that department.
“I’ve had many coaches, and all of them have shown me different things that have contributed to my wrestling, but one of my favorite coaches is Coach Becker,” Rivera says. “[He has] given me the support no other coach has given me.”
Jason Becker, one of SHS’s wrestling coaches, has worked with Rivera extensively throughout his four years in this program.
“Nicolar enjoys creating new moves and wrestles with a style that very few other people can emulate. […] Sometimes we just sit back in his corner and watch him wrestle in the same awe as his opponent and the fans,” Becker says.
Committing to wrestle for UW Madison is a decision that Becker thinks Rivera made wisely..
“[It] was a great decision for multiple reasons. […] Coach Reader and Coach Bono are excellent coaches that are going to support Nicolar as both a wrestler and a student to achieve the most success possible,” Becker says. Additionally, “there will be many [Stoughton alumni] in the wrestling room at Wisconsin [and] Madison is close to home [which will allow us] to watch him compete as a Badger.”
College wrestling is the next step for Rivera, one that his coaches and supporters are excited to see unfold. Aside from having a successful college career over the next four years, Rivera has some other wrestling-related achievements he’d like to work toward in the near future.
“My goals are to win Worlds, NCAAs, and the Olympics in a couple years,” Rivera says.
Being as successful as Rivera has been in his wrestling career thus far is no easy feat, and it has certainly come with its ups and downs. More specifically, according to Rivera, the ups being meeting new people through wrestling, and the downs being the periods of weight cutting. After all of it, he has come through the other side with more of a fighting, winning spirit than ever.
“I’ve wanted to quit many times,” Rivera says, “but during those times I’ve gotten the best at wrestling. My friends, family, doubters, and fans are the reason I keep pushing.”