About the only thing that Nick Severson isn't looking forward to about Thursday night in Sioux Falls, S.D., is the speech he's been asked to give.
Like most, the former Hayfield High School and North Dakota State star wrestler isn't crazy about addressing large groups.
But Severson is tough and he can adjust, so he'll likely be fine.
Those two winning characteristics are two of the best reasons that Severson is in this spot. On Thursday at Sanford Premier Center, the Hayfield native — along with four of his former NDSU teammates — will be inducted into the NCAA Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame.
It was Severson's pliability and ultra-competitiveness that allowed him to become a two-time wrestling national champion at former Division II power North Dakota State in Fargo.
Thanks to that, Severson is being recognized Thursday, as part of the 20th class of the NCAA Wrestling Hall of Fame.
"I never thought I'd be elected into any kind of hall of fame," said Severson, a general contractor in the Rochester area, married and the father of three.
"This is a great honor for me. There were a lot of people who helped me out along the way. And I'm proud of my (NDSU) buddies, that they are also being inducted. It's going to be great being there with my teammates, those guys I was in the trenches with. It makes it all the more special."
The look of a champion
Severson showed up at NDSU loaded with wrestling potential. He advanced to the state tournament just once in high school. That was his senior year. But he made the most of the trip, winning the state title at 189 pounds.
He was still growing when he got to Fargo, about 6-foot-1 upon his arrival, and nearly 6-4 by the time he graduated. Severson grew plenty in girth, too. He spent his first season there at 197 pounds, where he was ranked in the top eight nationally but finished just a shade above .500 as a freshman in the wrestling-loaded North Central Conference.
Midway through his sophomore year, it was time for a change. Heading into a tournament at St. Cloud State, Severson passed out while trying to make weight. NDSU legend coach Bucky Maughan had seen enough. He told Severson that he couldn't wrestle that day, and that his days of starving himself to be a 197-pounder were done. He would now be a heavyweight.
That fainting episode was the best thing that could have happened to Severson, though he didn't like the idea of bumping up to heavyweight at the time. In fact, it took him until the next season to fully embrace it.
That's because he lost far more than he wished at heavyweight to close his sophomore year. All of the adapting necessary to tangle with the biggest boys was a process. It meant Severson took his lumps initially, and it drove him nuts.
"I am a horrible loser," he said. "I'd go to the back room after losing a match and I'd feel like tearing the whole room apart. I wouldn't, but I wanted to."
There was little temptation to tear things up his junior and senior seasons. That's because he almost never lost. Severson adapted beautifully to the intricacies of being a heavyweight. He was more discerning with the shots he took, learning to stay out of the way of the avalanche of weight the big guys can smother you with.
Severson began his junior season with a lopsided win over a three-time All-American. After that, there was no looking back.
Severson wrestled his way to a national championship as a junior, then repeated the feat as a senior.
Those were golden days, Severson said. On Thursday, he'll be remembered for them. The big guy from Hayfield is a Hall of Famer.