Two best friends and former wrestling teammates have brought their passion for the sport, and a decade-long reputation in the training field, to Mahwah.
Friends Erik Norgaard and Damian Logan opened the first Apex Wrestling School, widely regarded as one of the top schools in the area for training in the sport, 10 years ago. About three months ago, the duo opened their third and newest location inside Ramapo Valley Road’s Mahwah Business Park.
“We had a lot of students coming from the north,” Norgaard said of their decision to open a new location in the township. The school’s other two locations are in Teterboro and Kenilworth.
“It took years of searching to find the right place. We looked at over 40 buildings in Northern Bergen County,” before deciding on the space in Mahwah.
The duo decided on the location for many reasons, he said, including it’s accessibility and parking, large, open space, and lack of poles in its work-out space. Plus, the school can service wrestling students from New York and Connecticut, as well as those from northern NJ.
So far, the new location has about 150 students. Overall, Apex serves about 400.
“What really sets us apart is our connection to colleges,” Norgaard said. "We call this a wrestling school because that’s what it is, a school, it’s not just a club. We focus on the educational aspect of the sport.”
Both Norgaard and Logan speak from experience. The two were childhood friends who grew up wrestling together. They both wrestled for St. Joe’s in Montvale. Norgaard went on to wrestle at Columbia University, and Logan at Michigan University. Upon graduation, the two founded Apex.
In addition to training kids for their wrestling seasons at school and on rec teams, Apex students travel with their coaches to tournaments all across the country.
“Our kids are the best because of the exposure they get,” Norgaard said. “They are competing against the top kids from Oklahoma or California. It expands their horizons.”
The school trained 18 All-American wrestlers last year, and has trained champion wrestlers in both youth and high school national championship matches.
The business partners are looking to expand their own horizons, too.
“In wrestling, we don’t have an NFL or an NBA,” Norgaard said. “Here, it’s all about MMA fighting.” So, the new school in Mahwah is incorporating MMA training with offerings like jiu-jitsu and boxing classes to both wrestling students, and to their parents.
Apex is also looking at other expansion opportunities, business-wise, he said. The partners are considering opening more locations, or franchising their school.
Until that happens, the two say they are excited to have the new location in Mahwah.
“We grew up going to the best wrestling schools at the time,” Norgaard said. “We knew what we liked about them, what worked and what we wanted to change. We just felt like we had a lot that we could teach, and a lot that we could give back to kids. And, that’s what we’re doing.”