Confidence booster for Julian Feikert
Julian Feikert needed a boost of confidence.
His Oklahoma State University wrestling team needed points in the worst way.
Feikert delivered on both accounts, pinning ninth-ranked Nick Dardanes of
Minnesota in 52 seconds in their match at 141 pounds to propel third-ranked
Oklahoma State to a 22-15 victory over top-ranked Minnesota in front of a
stunned crowd Sunday at the Minnesota Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis, Minn.
For Feikert, a redshirt sophomore from Keokuk, it was just what the doctor
ordered after a subpar performance in his previous match.
And for the Cowboys, who trailed by six points after losing the first two weight
classes to the Golden Gophers, it was the first of five straight victories which
lifted them to a big road win.
“They had some momentum going for them. I went out there and shut it down. That
really got our team going. Then Jordan (Oliver) went out and pinned his guys and
we got some momentum going after that.” Feikert said Monday before practice.
“That has given me quite a bit of confidence. But just because I pinned the guy
doesn’t mean I am going to pin every guy I wrestle. It has given me a boost of
confidence, beating someone of that level. That makes me want to train even
“That was obviously a critical match for us,” Oklahoma State coach John Smith
said. “That really set the tone for the rest of the dual and sent us on a
winning streak. After that win at 141, we won 149, 157, 165 and 174. That match
was a big one for us.”
Feikert, a former state finalist for Keokuk High School, was coming off a
disappointing 10-2 loss to freshman Charles Cobb of Pennsylvania in the Cowboys’
season-opening 35-10 dual-meet win over the Quakers.
“I didn’t feel like I was mentally prepared for that match,” Feikert said of his
loss to Cobb. “I wasn’t attacking. I wasn’t intense. I let him control the pace
of the match.”
Feikert was in a different frame of mind Sunday. Dardanes beat Feikert 10-4 last
year in the finals of the national duals, and Feikert was determined to prove he
was a better wrestler than he showed that time.
After the Cowboys lost the first two matches and trailed 6-0, Feikert knew it
was up to him to turn the momentum in his team’s favor.
“I was much more relaxed, but much more focused. I wasn’t as nervous as the last
time. I knew (Dardanes) had beaten me before, so I knew it would be a really
tough match.” Feikert said. “I knew with the home crowd, he was going to be
really pumped up. I went out there really focused and tried to be really
intense. I guess things worked out all right.”
“He struggled a little bit early in the season. He wasn’t used to playing that
role,” Smith said.
“Now he respects that role. He knows what he has to do each and every match. He
got himself ready to roll.”
Dardanes shot in on single leg in the opening seconds and caught Feikert in a
cradle. Feikert instead of turning away from the cradle as most wrestlers are
taught, turned into Dardanes, catching the Minnesota wrestler by surprise.
“A lot of people turn away from the cradle, try to bail out,” Feikert said. “I
turned into him and caught him off guard. I think that shocked him.”
In the blink of an eye Feikert had Dardanes on his back and a precarious
situation. Feikert made sure Dardanes would not escape.
“Once I had him on his back, he was not going to come off,” Feikert said. “He
kept fighting hard, but I made sure he wasn’t going to get out.”
“Julian had a great response there to that single-leg cradle,” Smith said. “He
looked very explosive with his pin.”
Feikert improved to 7-2 with the win and turned some heads around the country.
But he know he can ill-afford to rest on his laurels. The Cowboys wrestle
Wyoming Saturday at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla., then travel to
face 10th-ranked Oklahoma Sunday in Norman, Okla., in the annual Bedlam Dual.
Feikert likely will face Wyoming junior Kyle Komata (4-5) on Saturday, then get
top-ranked Kendric Maple (6-0) of Oklahoma on Sunday. Feikert lost to Maple 12-4
in last year’s dual.
But Feikert is settling into his starting role.
“He’s getting his weight under control and showing some discipline,” Smith said.
“He is big for 141, but as we go through each week he is getting stronger and
stronger and more confident.”
“It was a pretty awesome experience,” Feikert said. “But I have a big week ahead
of me. I have to work and train even harder now.”