By Taylor Miller
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
After a stellar 2013-14 season that saw him win the NCAA wrestling title at 157 pounds, junior Oklahoma State wrestler Alex Dieringer is looking to make a national impact at a new weight—165 pounds.
During his sophomore campaign, Dieringer went 32-1 overall with a 14-1 dual record. He snatched his second Big 12 title, second All-America honor and first NCAA individual title.
He decided it was time to change things up after two years competing at 157 pounds, where his size was his advantage.
"I was a big at 157 pounds,” Dieringer said. “I decided to move up because I think I will be a lot stronger at 165 pounds. I was strong at 157 pounds because I was so much bigger than everybody, but I think it will even out because I won't be cutting as much weight."
He made a statement early as he made his 165-pound debut at the NWCA All-Star Classic, a dual that features 20 of the nation’s best wrestlers. The top-ranked Cowboy took on two-time All-American and second-ranked Nick Sulzer of Virginia in the opening match to kick off the 2014-15 wrestling season.
Dieringer came out forceful, picking up the first and only takedown less than a minute into the match. The Cowboy took the 2-1 lead and 1:02 of riding time into the second period, where he started in the down position and tallied the escape in only four seconds. In the third period, Sulzer produced an escape, but it was Dieringer who took the match, 4-2, with a solid 1:29 of riding time to secure the win.
"It was a good starter just to see where I was,” Dieringer said. “I won so it obviously felt good to know that I am the No. 1 guy to start out the season. It was a good experience. I’ve never wrestled him before so it was fun to wrestle with one of the best guys in the nation."
With the new weight, comes new opponents that Dieringer has yet to face.
“There are some tough competitors at this weight,” he said. “It’s important for me that I continue to work as hard as I did last year and strive to get even stronger. I been working out a lot more at nights, but I think I still need to get in there more and keep working on my shape, keep working on my technique and working out my flaws that I have in my matches.”
Dieringer also faces some changes in the Oklahoma State wrestling room. With the departure of OSU standouts Chris Perry, Tyler Caldwell, Jon Morrison and Blake Rosholt, Dieringer now finds himself in a position of leadership among a young Oklahoma State squad.
“I think where I can help the team as a leader is by being a good example in the room and working hard,” Dieringer said. “We are a really young team and we’re going to have some bumps in the road, but we're still growing. We have to keep working on our offense and keep working on our Oklahoma State style of wrestling."
The Cowboys are 3-1 on the season with dual wins over Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, South Dakota State and the University of Oklahoma. The Pokes suffered a tough road loss to Minnesota, in a dual that was tight until the end. The Cowboys will return to dual action on Jan. 11, after a pair of holiday tournaments, to take on top-ranked Iowa in Stillwater, Okla.
Dieringer has been a key to the Cowboy lineup, winning all four of his dual matchups, including a 9-2 win over No. 14 Nick Wanzek of Minnesota. Overall, he is 9-0 on the season with seven of his wins coming with bonus points attached, highlighted by four falls.
Even with one NCAA championship under his belt and a solid start to the season, the junior said he doesn’t expect the road to a second national title to be an easy one.
"Obviously, I have to come back strong. I was working out a lot last year and the grind was real," he said. “I've always been told that the second one is always harder, so I have to come in with the same mindset and do what I need to do to be a champ.”