Nick Addison committed to wrestle for Stanford University in November 2018.
After Addison signed his letter of intent, his Stanford coaches assigned him a senior project for his last season at Rumson-Fair Haven High School. They wanted him to work on “hand fighting and scoring at close distances,” said Rumson-Fair Haven coach Bryan Heller.
Heller was a collegiate wrestler at Penn State University, so he understood the edict, and he was happy to help. Heller and his assistant coach, Billy George, started working on hand fighting with Addison each day at practice.
“There’s more hand fighting in college,” Heller said. “It’s different.”
Since the senior was already a well rounded wrestler, he didn’t need much time to add hand moves to his game. In matches, Addison began attacking both sides and ripping off multiple shots in a row.
“Most high school kids can’t compete in hand fights at close proximity, so he’s been dominant,” Heller said.
In the Region 5 championship on Feb. 23 at Franklin High School, Addison pinned South Plainfield High School’s Brenden Hedden in 3:08.
It was his first regional title, and he won it with hand fighting. Addison also used his advanced techniques to pin his first two opponents in the 182-pound tournament, in 2:23 and 1:57, respectively.
“Three pins,” Heller said. “That really put an exclamation point on where he’s at.”
After each takedown, Heller and his coaches looked up at the clock. They were stunned by what they saw.
“None of the matches had lasted longer than eight seconds before he scored his first points,” Heller said. “He’s mean, aggressive and on a mission.”
The senior was also on a mission this past weekend in Atlantic City. He finished fourth in the state tournament last winter, the best state finish in Rumson-Fair Haven history. But he wanted to win it all this season.
“He expects to win,” Heller said before the tournament. “It’s going to be a fun weekend.”
Addison placed fourth in the state tournament for the second consecutive year, falling to Paulsboro High School’s Santino Morina in the third- place match. He did not quite accomplish his mission, but he still earned the best finish in Rumson-Fair Haven history for the second time.
Addison will leave the Rumson school as the best wrestler in its history.
The senior holds program records for single season victories, 42 (set last winter), and career victories, 138. Marcus Iwama, a 2015 Rumson-Fair Haven graduate, held those records before Addison broke them. Heller, a 2003 Rumson-Fair Haven grad, set the records originally.
“Marcus beat all my records and now Nick’s beating all of Marcus’s records,” Heller said. “It’s cool.”
The 182-pounder got into Stanford with an athletic scholarship. But it was still Stanford, so he needed strong grades and standardized test scores, too.
Last year, Addison passed on some spring wrestling matches to prepare for the ACT exam. He ended up getting the score he needed. Addison has also taken honors and advanced placement courses throughout high school, even while wrestling year round.
“He’s as focused on academics as he is on wrestling,” Heller said.
“It’s everything with him,” Heller added. “Nutrition. Strength training. He’s dedicated.”
Addison’s passion should make him a strong Division 1 wrestler. It should also lead to success in general at the ultra competitive Silicon Valley school.
“Half the battle is caring a lot,” Heller said. “If you do that, you anticipate it translating to the next level.”