Wrestling: A repeat state title is the next goal for Stevan Micic
By John O’Malley Post-Tribune correspondent January 24, 2013 11:12PM
Hanover Central's Steven Micic (left) tries to reverse pin Lake Central's Brandon Truver in the 113lb semi finals match during the Lake Central Harvest Classic wrestling meet held at Lake Central High School on Saturday December 1, 2012. Micic went on to win the match. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 26, 2013 6:41AM
Stevan Micic has always dreamt of eventually becoming an NCAA, Olympic and World Team champion.
While those goals are extremely high, they don’t seem too lofty for Hanover Central’s defending state champion to attain in the future.
“I think if I keep practicing and working hard, I can get to the level I need to be able to do those things,’’ the talented junior said.
Micic, who went 47-0 in winning the state title at 106 pounds a year ago — he was third at 103 pounds as a freshman — was inspired in August by Sharif Sharifov, a young Azerbaijani athlete who won an Olympic gold medal in London.
Sharifov upset three-time Asian champion Ehsan Naser in the semifinals before beating Puerto Rico’s Yusept Espinal in the title match at 84 kilograms.
“I know if a kid like that can do it, I can, too,’’ said Micic, a disciplined athlete and straight-A student. “I love freestyle wrestling. That’s been one of my goals since I was little. When he won, it really made it more realistic to me. I feel like I have the right people around — coaches and partners — to train with and help me get there.’’
With former wrestling room partner Paul Petrov — who won state at 120 pounds last year — now competing at Bucknell University, finding a partner to push Micic hasn’t been easy.
“We’ve tried to give him good partners whether it’s coaches or other good athletes we still have in the room,’’ Hanover Central coach Nick Petrov said. “There are times we’ve brought people in to work with him — be it former wrestlers or coaches — and make him better.’’
Getting better is something Micic always strives to accomplish.
“Stevan is a student of the sport,’’ Petrov said. “He works at getting better every single day. His goal is to improve in every position on the mat at all times. He’s a highly-motivated kid from a highly-motivated family. He watches a lot of film of his matches — more the losses than wins. He really likes watching international matches, too.’’
Presently, though, Micic, competing at 113, isn’t looking beyond his first match of Saturday’s Crown Point Sectional.
“I’m really excited, it’s a fun time of year,’’ said Micic, who’s won his last 82 matches dating back to his third-place finish at state as a freshman. “I look forward to the matches. I’ve trained hard and am well prepared. I don’t ever take anyone for granted.’’
Saying Micic has been dominant this season is a gross understatement.
He’s unbeaten in 34 matches with 32 pins and two technical falls.
Not surprisingly, he points to a pair of losses this summer competing against prestigious national foes, for providing extra incentive.
After claiming a national title by winning the 98-pound USAW Freestyle Cadet crown in Fargo, North Dakota as a freshman, Micic had to settle for third place in the 113-pound class last summer. He also placed second at FILA.
“I learned a lot from both losses,’’ he said. “I learned I should have won them. I was winning both matches, but made critical mistakes managing the remaining time. It was discouraging, but I might not be at the level I am now without those losses. Those losses motivated me. They made me want to work harder all the time. I always learn more from my losses than my wins.’’
His own worst critic, Micic is always looking to improve.
“I would say I’m a perfectionist,’’ he said. “I always look at what I’m doing and how well I’m doing it. High goals are what defines me. My thinking is, you’re never the best. You can always get better technically and physically.’’
Micic spends offseasons working with Alex Tsirtsis, the former Griffith four-time state champ and University of Iowa All-American.
“Alex helps me out a lot,’’ he said. “I’ve been working with him in the offseason for the last three years at (Region Wrestling Academy).
We practice, do private lessons and work on a lot of extra things to get better. It’s really helped me a lot.’’
As Micic begins his third postseason Saturday, he has one goal in mind.
“It’s to win state again,’’ he said. “If everything goes right and I stick to the plan I believe I’ll be able to do that.’’