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Wrestling: Larkin’s Duke Bogicevic looking to buck the trend

Updated: February 11, 2014 6:10AM

In an age when almost every Illinois state place-winner has been wrestling since early childhood, Duke Bogicevic is aiming to buck the odds this year.

Like most of Larkin’s wrestlers, the senior didn’t begin wrestling until his freshman year in high school.

“And I had to wrestle varsity that year,” Bogicevic said, “so I took my lumps.

“Guys would bait me with moves and I didn’t see it coming because I didn’t know the moves yet. My dad would video the matches and I’d just keep watching those tapes over and over and over.”

But Larkin coach Steve Hoyt knew right away that he had a determined freshman in his practice room.

“He’s a tremendously hard worker, very hard on himself, and always looking to improve,” Hoyt said. “He’ll sit and watch video for hours trying to figure out how he can be better for his next match.”

Bogicevic lost more than he won that first season as he was learning — a raw rookie pitted against wrestlers with hundreds of matches already under their belts. He dedicated himself to the sport, ready to make up ground.

Then, just as he was embarking on a year-round commitment to wrestling, an injury knocked Bogicevic out of wrestling for almost his entire sophomore season.

Entering his junior year, he felt like he was going back to the drawing board.
“I didn’t start to feel comfortable until the end of my junior year,” Bogicevic confirmed. “Then I got to the sectional and had a few wins over some good kids.”

Bogicevic went 27-13 his junior year and became a sectional qualifier at 132 pounds with a 2-1 decision over Wheaton North’s Ben Wilson on the third-place mat of Glenbard North’s Class 3A Regional.

He wasn’t able to advance through a rugged 3A sectional at Maine East that featured powers Oak Park-River Forest and Glenbard North.

A top-four sectional finish allows a wrestler to advance to the individual state finals in Champaign, and Bogicevic spent the offseason getting himself ready to do just that in his senior year.

“I did five or six camps in the summer and put in over 50 matches. I wrestled with (Waubonsie Valley’s) Jimmy Davis, who’s ranked sixth at 138, and I had a ton of great practice partners,” Bogicevic said. “This past summer I was in two camps a day for like two months.”

Now wrestling at 126 pounds, Bogicevic’s hard work has paid off. He currently carries a 19-1 record and won an individual title at Wheaton Warrenville South’s Ed Ewoldt Tournament on Dec. 28.

Bogicevic has earned the pivotal first takedown in 15 of his matches and has 10 pins, two wins by technical fall and a major decision win to his credit.

The raw freshman has evolved into a seasoned senior, ready to fight for the chance to become a state qualifier.

“I feel like I can make it down there this year,” Bogicevic said. “I’ve learned a lot in the offseason and now I’m putting it all to use.”

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