Former Aurora football star Tucker Nietert proves that the best things come for those who "weight"

Tucker Nietert (76) celebrates with the Division III, Region 9 championship trophy last fall. Also pictured are Ryan Papesh (far left) Tony Gramm and Johnny Papesh (far right). Nietert, a 2020 Aurora graduate, is planning to continue his academic and football careers at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania.

He has never handled an Atlas Stone.

He probably hasn’t flipped a Norse Hammer over either.

However, Tucker Nietert may consider entering the World’s Strongest Man competition down the road.

His former coach would certainly approve.

“He is the strongest kid I’ve ever had in my 19 years,” Greenmen head football coach Bob Mihalik said.

There were no reports of a school bus falling into a ditch not far from West Pioneer Trail last year. If such a dangerous situation were to happen, Aurora administrators knew they didn’t need to call a tow truck.

Nietert would have been a far less expensive option. Just give him a rope or a harness and it’s a good bet you would be back on the road in no time.

“He broke all the lifting records last year,” Mihalik said. “He lifted 1,245 pounds in the bench, power clean and squat. He’s the first kid to go over 1,200 pounds.”

Nietert plans to continue bench-pressing trucks for at least another four years. He recently decided to continue his academic and football careers at Gannon University.

The standout guard, who plans to major in finance and accounting, chose the private co-educational Catholic University in Erie, Pennsylvania, over Westminster University, which also makes its home in Pennsylvania.

“I chose Gannon because of their finance program,” said Nietert, who also hopes to get his Master of Business Administration degree at the NCAA Division II school.

That wasn’t the only reason.

Someone he knows very well with similar DNA happens to be a current student at the 95-year-old university.

That would be his older brother Montana, a former Aurora lineman who will be a redshirt sophomore for the Golden Knights this fall.

“Being able to play football with Montana again is another reason why I chose Gannon,” said Nietert, who has another older brother named Angus. “My brothers are and have always been my greatest inspirations on and off the field. I would have never pursued a degree in business or college football without their endless love and support.”

Knowing that his two best friends had his back was pivotal for the snakebitten Nietert. That’s because his football career was in serious jeopardy just a short time ago.

If you considered his medical history, you might be surprised that Nietert is able to walk without a limp, let alone manhandle opposing defensive tackles.

Prior to his senior year, Nietert tore his anterior cruciate ligament three times. Surgery was performed on both knees too.

Nevertheless, the stubborn Nietert didn’t crawl into a hole. And he didn’t want to leave his brother hanging either.

“I never considered giving up football,” Nietert said. “My end goal has always been to continue playing football, especially with Montana.”

Since Nietert was itching to get back on the gridiron, he found another hobby. And as his awe-inspiring statistics proved, the rest is history.

“I lift weights out of a desire to meet that goal of playing with my brother on top of remaining healthy throughout the remainder of my football career,” Nietert said. “After my first injury, I spent a considerable amount of time in rehab to strengthen my knee.

“During this time, I fell in love with lifting and began spending countless hours in the weight room. After my third ACL injury, people doubted me, suggesting that I should walk away from football because it was nearly inevitable that something would happen again, but with the support of my family and the desire to prove people wrong, I began to spend even more time in the weight room.”

Nietert wasn’t the only person to put his skeptics in place. His special band of brothers did too.

After seeing their amazing 13-year playoff streak come to a shocking end in 2018, the Greenmen had a season for the ages last fall.

With Nietert anchoring a robust offensive line, Aurora finished 13-1 and reached the Division III state semifinals for the first time in seven years.

Aurora also finished with a 10-0 record during the regular season for the first time in the 21st century.

“Playing in Aurora has taught me to never give up, that nothing comes easily and the importance of family,” Nietert said. “When we lost the playoff streak at the end of the 2018 season, the class of 2020 saw that as an opportunity to prove ourselves. We went to work early in the season with summer workouts and practices.

“During this time, players, especially the senior class, grew close and became a family. We would look out for each other, making sure no one missed reps in the weight room or was slacking in the classroom. We didn’t give up and the hard work we put in on and off the field led to the final four.”

The “final four” isn’t part of Gannon’s vernacular. Not yet, at least.

The Golden Knights finished a modest 2-9 overall and 1-6 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference in 2019.

That’s OK with Nietert, though. Such obstacles will only push him to work even harder.

Thus, you can be sure this resilient teenager will participate in more farmer’s walks, Hercules holds and duck walks for the next four years.

In other words, watch out, Mariusz Pudzianowski and Brian Shaw. A certain strongman with an affection for green is coming for you.

“My main focus is earning a degree,” Nietert said. “I plan to dedicate a lot of time to studying and remaining on top of my coursework.

“Athletically, I hope to be on the field as soon as possible. I will need time to learn a new playbook as well as a new playing style. Gannon currently runs a no-huddle offense whereas Aurora runs a typical offense.

“The change in playing style will take some time to get used to. I think I have a lot to learn in the transition from high school to college football, but I anticipate playing at Gannon as soon as possible.”

— Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, or @Faceto_Gannett.