Decorated UW-Oshkosh wrestler's journey enters final period

Nazar Kulchytskyy of the UW-Oshkosh wrestling team takes a breather during a recent practice session.
Nazar Kulchytskyy of the UW-Oshkosh wrestling team takes a breather during a recent practice session.

OSHKOSH - Nazar Kulchytskyy of UW-Oshkosh is 32-3 this season and is the top ranked Division III wrestler at 157 pounds. He's hoping to cap his career with a third consecutive individual wrestling national championship.

Nazar Kulchytskyy's story begins far from the UW-Oshkosh wrestling room, half a world away, in his birth place of Sosnivka Ukraine."Right now Ukraine's life situation not the greatest,” Nazar explained and he (Kulchytskyy’s father) was thinking about my future and it was a better opportunity for me and my family to come over here."

So five years ago Nazar and his parents came to Wisconsin thanks to help from Larry Marchionda of World Class Wrestling in Fond du Lac. The two got in touch through phone calls and e-mails when Nazar was looking for a new place to hone his craft.

Marchionda and his staff helped Nazar and his family adjusted to life in their new home but even inside the wrestling room life was a series of adjustments for Nazar including an entirely new type of wrestling.

"First of all folk style is a new style for me. I wrestled free style my entire life,” Nazar said. “I wrestle all my life but this four years been only folk styles. It's been a good, good experience.”

The adversity didn’t end once he entered college. An ACL injury delayed the start of his freshman campaign but once he hit the mat Nazar appeared headed straight to the top. Kulchytskyy amassed a 12-0 record and a number one ranking nationally before disaster struck.

“I did really good but then I broke my foot so I went through really tough times in my freshman years,” he recalled. He moved past the disappointment though and used his misfortune as motivation. “It just make me angry and hungry for next year. I keep going and sophomore, junior years I won titles and I just want to do it again and again."

Over time Kulchytskyy has blended the styles and used his experience to catch opponents off guard. Even at the national level.

"The United States overall has a completely different style of wrestling,” Kulchytskyy said. “In the Ukraine we work more on technique and here it's more power and conditioning and it's just two different styles from two different countries and it made me to learn a little bit from each of them."

“There's a couple moves that I do and there's not many people doing it here,” Kulchytskyy said. “They don't know what's coming and it's usually at nationals where people don't know much.”

Kulchytskyy has used that style to win more matches 133, record more pins 63, win more WIAC titles, three and national titles, two than any of his predecessors. With just a few weeks remaining in his college career the most decorated wrestler in Titans history feels good about his legacy.

"Definitely I'm pretty excited if I look back at my career right now. It's pretty good. Definitely would be nice to win another national title and be the most dominate wrestler in the country," Nazar said.

Being the best at what you do, in the place you now call home, seems like a fitting end to the long journey for Nazar Kulchytskyy.