Grappling his way to the Olympics

Former Port High star Alex Dieringer dominates international tournament, has his sights set on world championship this year, 2020 games in Tokyo

PORT WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL alumnus Alex Dieringer, 25, recently won the Dan Kolov Memorial freestyle wrestling tournament in dominating fashion in Bulgaria. He continues to train and coach at his alma mater, Oklahoma State University, where he won three NCAA titles and the Dan Hodge Trophy, the wrestling equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.
Ozaukee Press staff

Alex Dieringer had never been to the Dan Kolov Memorial freestyle wrestling tournament held this month in Bulgaria.

His opponents likely wished he would have missed his flight.

The Port Washington High School alumnus at 174 pounds dominated the event, scoring technical falls in the first 90 seconds in three of four matches to bring home a gold medal.

“I used a lot of my power moves. I just go out there and keep that forward pressure. Eventually, they can’t really take it. I impose my will on them,” Dieringer said last week after returning to Oklahoma.

In the finals, Dieringer won a 10-0 tech fall in the first period over 2018 U23 bronze medalist Omarakhab Nazhmudinov of Romania.

In the semifinals, he won, 6-0, over 2018 U23 world champion Nika Kentchadze of the country of Georgia.

In two earlier matches, Dieringer beat Muhammet Nuri Kotanoglu of Turkey, 11-0; and Zaur Efendiev of Serbia, 10-0.

“It was awesome. It shows all that hard work you put into it is paying off,” he said of winning gold.

Dieringer said he comes into every match with a specific mindset.

“I always expect to win. You’ve got to have that confidence when you wrestle, otherwise you won’t make it very far,” he said.

Dieringer, 25, has already made it quite far. He’s a three-time NCAA champion, four-time All-American and has won the Dan Hodge Trophy (wrestling’s Heisman Trophy equivalent). At Port High, he won three state titles and took second once.

But he has his eyes on bigger prizes.

Dieringer is training for the 2019 world championships in September in Astana, Kazakhstan, and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Dieringer took third in the 2018 world championships, and standards have been raised to qualify for this year’s event.

Competitors have to finish in the top six of the U.S. Open — Dieringer has done that for three years straight — and then has to beat last year’s world champion in two of three matches.

“It’s not an easy process but it’s worth it,” Dieringer said.

He will first compete in the U.S. Open in April in Las Vegas, then the U.S. Trials in May in North Carolina and then the Final X tournament in June in New Jersey.

Dieringer’s wrestling career so far has taken him to Thailand, Russia and Paris — “the list is going to go on,” he said.

Dieringer is a graduate assistant at his alma mater — Oklahoma St., a legendary school for wrestling — and helps coach the team. He does cardio work in the morning and evening, and wrestles in between.

His high school coach Angelo LaRosa said Dieringer serves as an inspiration to the team with a caveat. 

“It sounds kind of silly. They’re just so used to him winning, that’s all they know. We have to sometimes explain to them — this tournament or this accomplishment is a really big deal,” he said.

One thing many people don’t understand about Dieringer, LaRosa said, is “he’s a freak athlete. He would have starred in football or baseball.”

His high school wrestling coaches noticed the star’s skill level at practice during his sophomore year. The team was doing the standing long jump, and Dieringer was landing three feet ahead of his teammates.

“The assistant coach and I looked at each other. It was an aha moment,” LaRosa said.

“We’re just so lucky that he came through our program. He’s the man.”

Dieringer will be recognized and wrestle a short exhibition match at a Port High assembly on 10:30 a.m. Friday, May 24. It is open to the public. A wrestling clinic will be held that weekend.

A fundraising page has been set up to help Dieringer with training and travel expenses:


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