[tabs tab1=”Jason Nichelson” tab2=”Dave Sayler” ]
Jason Nichelson began his wrestling career in 1979-80 while attending first grade in Greenwood, NE. Greenwood being a small town of around 500 did not have a lot of programs, so they consolidated many sports programs with Ashland seven miles down the road. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and some Saturday mornings, Jason’s parents would haul him and many other kids back and forth to the Ashland-Greenwood Jaycees Wrestling where they practiced at the Ashland Elementary School. Jerry Froistad was the head coach and founder of the little kids wrestling program that started in 1976.
Jason was a very talented athlete in whatever sport he was doing whether it was baseball, basketball, football, or wrestling he excelled in all! His parents understood finding better competition would make him a better wrestler and would travel as far as Grand Island for him to compete in a tournament even before the Huskerland State Tournament existed. Jason competed in the first Huskerland Tournament in 1986 held at Lincoln East High School. The following year Jason became a Huskerland State Champion! Jason was very competitive all through high school in wrestling and was a state qualifier his junior and senior years 1990-91. Jason was very instrumental in helping other teammates and the team bring home many trophies in those years.
Jason had enough common sense to marry his high school sweetheart Trisha. They began helping the little kids program in 1993, now called the Junior Wrestling Program. Around 1999-2000 Jason and Bruce Rogers ran the program together after Randy Beranek stepped down. Jason went on to take over the title of Club Director. Jason and Trisha had the help of many parents along the way. Jason and Trisha devoted countless hours of their voluntary time and efforts to the program while raising their own three children; Jake, Mallory, and Trevor.
Jason has always realized the importance of exposing kids to higher level competition. He drove kids to many different states and schools so they could compete with and learn from other accomplished wrestlers. In 2011, Jason helped coach his oldest son Jake to 215 # Nebraska State High School Championship. Jason is now trying to step back some from the Junior Wrestling Program so he can devote more time to his daughter Mallory and the activities she enjoys like softball and basketball. Jason and Trisha’s youngest, Trevor is in eighth grade and it looks like the next four years of high school wrestling could have a lot of excitement in store for the Nichelsons!
Jason is still in charge of finances and directs the set up and organization of the Ashland-Greenwood Junior Wrestling tournament. The endless efforts of Jason Nichelson’s, attributes to the Junior Wrestling Program is shown in the success of the high school champions, medalists, and qualifiers that have gone through our school system the past 14 years. Jason is a very humble man and would probably say he didn’t contribute to any of that success, just like any other great wrestler or coach would say. In a nutshell, this is why my friend should be in the Huskerland Hall of Fame.
I officiated my first Huskerland State Wrestling tournament in 1989. The first years were at Bob Devaney in Lincoln, the dusty Buffalo County fairgrounds, to carpeted ball rooms in Omaha, Hastings, Kearney Viero Center, and now at Buffalo Co. fairgrounds in Kearney. Craig Hellwege’s creativity to find new venues has been impressive. It has been a fun ride.
My wife Cindy has calligraphed many of the champion brackets as well as Top 10 certificates. My son Kyle has wrestled in Huskerland and my daughter Brooke worked table help as well as a towel tapper. Pretty neat family time.
The wonderful people and memories I have from Craig Hellwege and Huskerland wrestling could fill a book. Beyond any sport wrestling molds men. Thanks to my coaches at Sidney Neb. Jerry Langdon, John Ganser, and old friends especially Jay Emerson . As well as the friends at Kearney State [UNK] I have made. The family of wrestling is solid, unlike no other.
Just finishing my 24th year as an NSAA official with multiple NSSA State tournaments, UNL, UNO, and UNK tournaments. Huskerland has been as pleasurable as any event I’ve worked.
It’s all about the people and the kids. If you have ever had the courage to put on a headgear and wrestle a match, you are a champion in my eyes. It is a tough sport. As I am approaching retiring with the whistle, this award comes at a nice time and I am thankful for it.