By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Not a lot bothers Alex Dieringer these days. He playfully slings his arm around Brian Crutchmer and tells a quick joke minutes before warming up for what could be one of the most important summer workouts of his career.
Dieringer’s lackadaisical approach might be a cause for concern if you’re anybody but Oklahoma State coaches John Smith and Eric Guerrero. They know what he’s been through over the last year and where he’s coming from.
So while everybody else in the room frets over the upcoming U.S. World Team Trials, Smith and Guerrero tend to look the other way if Dieringer tries to keep things light with a couple of jokes.
“I made the team last year, so I’m going in there with a positive outlook,” Dieringer said. “I’m always going to think I’m going to win, so I think I’m going to come out on top.”
If there’s two things every wrestler needs it’s confidence and a sense of humor. Dieringer’s experience at last year’s World Trials gives him that confidence and the ability to not put a lot of pressure on himself — even with the trials being held on his home mat in Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“There’s definitely a little pressure,” Dieringer said. “After you win something then come back, it’s not going to come easy. Experience outweighs most of it, just being aware of what it’s going to be like and what you’re going to have to be prepared for. It’s just going to be me going out there and training my (butt) off until June 23, just getting ready.”
So how did Dieringer, a reigning member of the U.S. freestyle team, handle the pressure of knowing guys were going to come after him? The only way he knew how — he took a break to clear his mind and refocus.
“After the season, I took a little break and I think that helped a lot,” Dieringer said. “I needed a little recovery time. Last year was my first freshman season for college and it was grueling. I had about a month off, then came back strong and I’ve been wrestling really good in the wrestling room ever since.
“Having that break and letting your body rest is huge. During the season, I’d go to practice some days and I’d just feel drained. Now, I’m wrestling freestyle Greco and I can worry about just getting better and not keeping my weight down.”
Rested and relaxed, Dieringer said he’s ready to give the hometown Oklahoma State fans something to cheer about when he takes the mat during the final day of the trials.
“I don’t even know the last time or if it ever was here,” Dieringer said. “It’s just nice to have it at home, have all our fans come out and support us. ... You definitely want to impress your fans, so I’ll definitely be working nice and hard to make sure that I impress them.”
And while he may be relaxed going into the final week before the trials, Dieringer admitted that may not be the case when the whistle finally blows next week.
“I know I will be nervous just because I always get nervous,” Dieringer said. “This is trials and it’s in Stillwater. I don’t really get nervous until the day of, so I’m not really worried right now. I’m just worried about training and getting better.”