Boris Novachkov: The most exciting wrestler in college today?

[Novachkov 2011 photo highlights link here.]

Oakland, CALIF – As the 2011-2011 Division I college wrestling season approaches it’s mid-way mark, there are a few standout wrestlers who have been dominant on the mat so far: Kyle Dake of Cornell (157lbs), Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State (133lbs), and Chris Honeycutt of Edinboro (197lbs) are fun to watch as they confidently control their opponents.  Penn State has a number of wrestlers who bring a high-level of action to the mat in Frank Molinaro (149lbs) and David Taylor (157lbs). Taylor and Oliver in particular have huge fan bases due to their shear dominance.  But there may not be a wrestler more fun or exciting to watch than Boris Novachkov from Cal Poly (141lbs).

Novachkov vs Russell II - Russell did not score on this attempt.

What makes watching Novachkov so fun isn’t his dominance over his opponents like Oliver or Taylor, but his creative, cat-like scrambles, and an ability to turn his opponent’s moves into scoring situations for himself.  He does have two losses on the year, both at the Cliff Keen Invitational, one to Mike Mangrum (Oregon State) in the championship semis, the other a triple overtime loss in the consolation semis to Kellen Russell (Michigan) in a rematch of the 2011 141lb NCAA finals.  After 15 minutes of scrambles, Russell eked out the win in a controversial ending that included a clock start issue.

Novachkov was born in Bulgaria and learned to wrestle there coming over to California in his teens.  He has an Eastern European poise and never seems to get flustered or show any emotion like a lot of the Russian wrestlers on the world stage.  His coaches, Brendan Buckley and Jamill Kelly might show more emotion in a single match than Novachkov shows this entire season.  The rubber match against Mangrum this past weekend in Reno was a perfect example of what makes Novachkov so fun to watch (unless you are an Oregon State fan), just when you think it might be over, Novachkov turns the tables on Mangrum in double over-time and not only wins, but pins Mangrum coming out of the scramble to cap what will certainly be one of the most exciting matches of the season.

Novachkov vs Mangrum WWIII - Wild scramble.

Going into the second tie-breaker, Novachkov was in the top position and had to ride Mangrum out in order to force a triple OT. As first-year Cal Poly head coach Brendan Buckley describes it: “A flurry ensued and, as Mangrum nearly escaped, Boris caught him on his back and pinned him. The finals match between Boris and Mangrum was one of the most exciting matches I have ever witnessed and demonstrated why it’s so important to never stop wrestling.”

There are others in the sport who dominate every minute, and sure that’s fun to watch, but if you want to get excited about a wrestling match, keep an eye on Novachkov come March.

[Side note: Coincidentally Novachkov’s teammate Ryan DesRoches is just about as fun to watch, with an acute scrambling ability of his own.]

Enjoy these highlight photos of Novachkov from the first half of 2011:

Novachkov Highlights 2011.

Here is the Flo video of the Mangrum vs Novachkov finals match at the Reno TOC.

Here are a couple quotes from Flo wrestling comments:
“Fricking sick match! The scrambling in this was just nuts!!!”
“I watched it last night, had to watch it again. MOW easy. Sickest match all year, can’t wait ’till March!”

About Tony Rotundo