Dieringer Captures His First Title

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma State Cowboys split In the final two matches at the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on Saturday night. Alex Dieringer made good on his promise after last year's third-place finish as a freshman. The energetic and explosive Dieringer said he wanted to be a three-time NCAA champion and he took the first step in a big way.

In the final match of the night, the NCAA thought it would crown their wrestler of the tournament in Penn State's dominating David Taylor and that plan came to fruition but it wouldn't be with another fall. Tyler Caldwell, the Cowboys senior and second seed at 165 pounds, made sure Taylor had to earn it.

Going head to head with Minnesota's Dylan Ness at 157 pounds, Dieringer came out and grabbed an early first period takedown and nearly flipped Ness over on his back immediately. Ness recovered, but not for long as Dieringer came back and cranked him over for three near fall points and a 5-0 lead. That's the way the first period ended with the Cowboy from Port Washington, Wis., leading 5-0 and owning 2:16 in riding time.

"Once I got that near fall and I was up 5-0 at that point I knew I had it locked because I know how to wrestle smart when it comes to a guy like that because I've wrestled him many times before," Dieringer said in his post-match press conference. "His shot are low ankle and easier to stop, sometimes doubles but he just plane crashes right into them and I just knew it was coming."

In the second period it took Dieringer all of 10 seconds to escape and then he bull rushed Ness for another takedown. Two more takedowns in the third period and the riding time advantage led to a 13-4 major decision for Dieringer.

"I wrestled really good, I have to say. Handling the pressure, it is not very hard for me and when that whistle blows it is on for me. I thank my parents because if it wasn't for them taking me all over the country to wrestling tournaments I wouldn't be where I am today. They were taking me to a national tournament every two weeks probably and if I was at home then I was going to two tournaments each weekend. They were spending so much money on me and I'm thankful for that," he said.

Dieringer mentioned something we heard in the preseason and that was that he is big for a 157-pounder. But now he plans to get really big and move up to 165 pounds, the weight vacated with senior Tyler Caldwell.

Caldwell, in his final match as a Cowboy, wrestled hard but Taylor took the lead early with a takedown and he is hard to come back on. He is also very hard to escape from. Taylor finished the match with a 6-0 decision and his season unbeaten at 37-0, while Caldwell finished his season 31-4 with three of the four losses coming to Taylor. It was tough to end it that way.

"It just kills me that he didn't win his championship," head coach John Smith said of Caldwell, who he called a great leader for his wrestling team. "The guy did more for us in his two years here than he realizes."

In the team race, it was going to take a perfect evening and more for the Cowboys and they didn't get it. Penn State won another national title with 109.5 points, picking up two national champions in Taylor at 165 pounds and Ed Ruth at 184 pounds.

Minnesota (104 points) finished second although the Gophers did not crown any individual national champions. The Cowboys finished third with 96.5 points and the two champions in Perry and Dieringer.

"Although you finished third and you hoped you'd do better than that, overall this team came together," Smith said. "You lost five dual meets and that's not something you're used to. Sometimes it is humiliating at times and you can drop your head and not gather your strength back up to wrestle your best at the end of the year because you're beat up a little bit as a program.

"Wish it was a different trophy, but golly we finished strong and finished hard with two national champions. It is a journey for those kids and reaching the top, especially for Chris (Perry) and Ringer (Alex Dieringer)."

Dieringer and Josh Kindig now become leaders and there will be new names and new faces coming up as well. John Smith was complimentary of the effort this season, but finishing third will never be acceptable as long as he is coaching the Cowboys. It should never be acceptable for Oklahoma State wrestling.

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