Former Port standout Dieringer pins down collegiate, international wrestling honors
With only one year of collegiate wrestling under his belt, Alex Dieringer has just begun to grapple with the learning curve that confronts young athletes.
But the former Port Washington High School standout has already taken giant steps — all the way into an international spotlight.
After going 35-3, winning a conference title and placing third in the NCAA tournament as a redshirt freshman at Oklahoma State University in March, Dieringer stayed on a roll this summer.
As a member of Team USA, he placed second in the 74-kilogram (163-pound) weight class at the Junior World Freestyle Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria in August.
After winning his first three matches, Dieringer suffered his only tournament loss, a 8-1 technical fall, to Russia’s Alan Zaseev.
Silver medal in hand, Dieringer returned to the United States for a two-week break before resuming a training regimen that has helped him become one of the country’s elite 20-year-old wrestlers.
“It’s been great. It’s all happened so fast,” Dieringer said of the past 12 months, which have seen him go from college diamond in the rough to All-American.
“I’m really happy with the way things have gone. I have a lot to learn, but I’ve done pretty well so far.”
Dieringer’s success — which included being named national Freshman of the Year by InterMat, a wrestling website — doesn’t come as a surprise to former coaches and teammates who saw him dominate foes as a teenager.
The son of Dave and Cindy Dieringer of Port Washington, he grew up in a wrestling-loving family with brothers Andy, Jordan and Tyler. In addition to winning three WIAA state titles and going 172-4 at Port Washington High School, Alex pinned down national freestyle and folkstyle championships.
A prized college recruit, Dieringer chose Oklahoma State, a perennial national power that had him redshirt his first season. The year gave him a chance to adjust to college life and sharpen his wrestling skills in pursuit of ambitious career goals.
Dieringer qualified for the 2012 Junior World Championships, going 1-1 in his first international competition.
“I had some adjustments to make, but it worked out,” Dieringer said of his first year in college. “I made some huge jumps in wrestling and got better academically.”
Dieringer leaped into the 2012-13 season with aplomb, winning the Big 12 Conference title at 157 pounds. Ranked sixth entering the NCAA tournament, he reached the semifinals before losing, 3-2.
Dieringer secured a third-place medal with a first-period pin of a Northern Iowa foe.
“You always want to win a title, but to take third after going in sixth was good,” he said. “I’m happy with the way the season went.”
Dieringer was only one of five freshmen at the 2013 NCAA championships to receive All-American recognition.
Holding his own in the classroom as well, Dieringer received Academic All-Big 12 honors for having a 3.0 grade-point average.
It wasn’t difficult for him to select Oklahoma State from a sizeable list of interested college programs, Dieringer recalled.
“They’ve had 34 national champions. Every year they have a strong team,” he said. “They just have a great program.”
Dieringer has eyes on bigger prizes in the next few years. Besides going after NCAA and world titles, he wants to pursue gold at the Olympic Games.
The International Olympic Committee’s recent decision to reinstate wrestling as a medal sport after planning to drop it earlier this year came as a relief to Dieringer and mat enthusiasts everywhere.
“I want to wrestle in the Olympics in 2016 and 2020,” he said. “That’s always been one of my dreams.”
Wearing an Olympic medal is one of many items on a growing checklist for Dieringer, who is determined to ride the sport as far as he can.
“I want to stay in wrestling the rest of my life,” he said.
Image Information: ALEX DIERINGER, who won three state titles as a member of the Port Washington High School wrestling team, has continued to excel in the sport at the collegiate level and in international competition. In August, he placed second in the Junior World Freestyle Championships. Photo courtesty of oklahomawrestling.org