High School Wrestling

The Open Mat Chats with Ohio State Commit, Nick Feldman

Nick Feldman (Left – Malvern Prep) tries to secure a shot at the 2021 National Prep Wrestling Open. Photo first appeared in a PaPrepLive.com.

In limited action on the mat in 2021, Malvern Prep wrestling established itself as one of the best teams in the country despite only competing in two individual tournaments, both of which the Friars won. This was the first time in school history that a Malvern team ended a season as No. 1 in the nation in any sport.

In December 2021, Malvern took home the Powerade holiday tournament crown, besting PIAA’s top Class-3A team, Waynesburg Central, by 20 points.

During the first week of May, at the National Prep Wrestling Open, the Friars looked dominant once again. At nationals, led by a school-record six champions and 12 total place-winners, Malvern took home the team title. 

A month later, a sizeable contingent of nationally-ranked Malvern stars competed for Jack Davis’ Middle Atlantic Wrestling Association (MAWA) Warriors at the 2021 AAU Scholastic Duals at the award-winning Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, June 21-24.

In Orlando, MAWA won the All-Star Gold Division title for the third consecutive year. In doing so, MAWA won 12 team duals and only lost three individual matches in total (exhibition matches excluded). Also, one of those losses was a forfeit. With that, a MAWA grappler lost only twice in more than 160 combined bouts. 

The Open Mat caught up with MAWA’s 220-pounder, Nick Feldman, the reigning 2021 National Prep champion and an Ohio State commit, following his stellar showing at the 2021 Scholastic Duals. In Orlando, Feldman finished a perfect 12-0 with a 100% bonus rate. He, like many of his fellow MAWA teammates, looked unbeatable.

The following is a transcript of the interview between TOM’s No. 3 in the Class of 2022, Nick Feldman, and TOM Site Editor Christopher Miller. The interview has was edited and condensed. 

Q: How did COVID impact your training heading into a shortened 2021 season?

So, with it being a COVID year, I came back home. I was lifting pretty much every day at my house. And that was not very good for my conditioning. 

I was trying to wrestle at least two to three days a week. But it was tough because not a lot of guys were going.

In September, I started getting ready for Who’s #1, and I could feel my conditioning was down. It was terrible. So, I focused on a lot of sprints, a lot of work on the treadmill, that kind of thing.

As far as competitions went for this year, it was tough because Malvern usually goes to Ironman, Beast of the East, and Powerade in the first three weeks. This year all we had was Powerade. 

Those extra events are important for getting those tough early matches and get used to it. Many guys had a problem where they weren’t ready for those big matches. I know I felt that way. I didn’t feel 100%.

Q: What adjustments did you make to combat limited training opportunities?

I started focusing a lot on my diet. I was not eating as clean as I should have been. Truthfully, I’m not eating perfectly right now, and I’m not saying that. But I cleaned it up a good bit.

 And I started focusing on conditioning a lot more and going harder for all six minutes, giving it everything I got. 

Q: What does it mean to be a part of a team that finished the No. 1 in the country?

It’s awesome. I mean, all those guys have worked so hard. And the resilience they have is awesome. It really is. I’m so proud of my whole team, my coaches, everything. 

The whole team stayed so focused this entire time. Everyone had their goals in sight. And they went for them and didn’t get distracted. It’s just cool to see a team come together like that.

Q: How did you decide to commit to Ohio State?

Ultimately, it came down to Ohio State, Virginia Tech, and Navy for me. I just loved the coaches at Ohio State so much.

 I met all the guys, that atmosphere, the environment, everything was amazing. I just realized that was the only place I could see myself going. I think it’s just perfect for me.

I think it was a coaching staff that sold me on Ohio State. Coach Ryan, Coach Jaggers, Coach Jordan, even Coach Travel, who isn’t there anymore. All those coaches can make me a better person all around. They made me feel so confident that that’s the place I wanted to be.

Q: You’ve shown interest in wanting to join the Army ROTC at Ohio State. How did that idea come about?

So, my dream, since I don’t even know how old, was to be a Navy Seal. I am still working toward that goal through wrestling. That’s why I was looking at the Naval Academy a lot. 

Ultimately, I think ROTC is a perfect way to work toward being a Navy Seal and achieve my goals. I’ve talked to the ROTC Lieutenant at Ohio State and spoke to the wrestling coaches about balancing both.

Q What is next for you and training once you’re back from Scholastic Duals?

I plan on going to Fargo soon. I’m just trying to get big and strong and put on some good weight. 

I’m wrestling heavyweight next year because that’s my goal in college. So, I’m just trying to get bigger but focus on getting ready for the next level, for college wrestling.

I want to be a 235 or 240-pound heavyweight. You can still move around pretty well with that size, but you’re strong enough to hang in there with those big guys.

Q: Stylistically, you don’t wrestle like a heavyweight. Why do you think that is?

I think being a middleweight my freshman year (160) influences my style. I got to wrestle guys who do shoot and move a lot more. I think that works well for me now. Being a big guy, I can feel the difference.

I got used to shooing so much and working from takedowns right into turns when I was wrestling down at 160. Now, I incorporate those things in ‘big guy’ matches because many of them aren’t used to that.

Q: What improvements are you hoping to make in your final high school season?

Just really focusing more on angles and setups. Some of my shots are not well set up. I’m able to get away with that on high school 220-pounders, but it’s not going to work on college heavyweights. 

So, I’m trying to focus on working setups and working angles, my shots, that kind of thing. 

Q: What are you most excited about from your final high school season in 2022?

I’m excited for the whole team to go to Ironman this upcoming year. My sophomore year, I got beat pretty good. So, I want to get that one back. 

I want our team to go out there and show out because I think that’s one of the toughest tournaments we attend. I think a lot of guys are going to shock a lot of people.

Q: What are your goals on the mat in college wrestling and beyond?

Obviously, in college wrestling, I want to be the best wrestler I possibly can be. 

After that, I’m not sure. Like I said, my goal one day is to be a Navy Seal. So obviously, that’s going to come soon after college.

 Regarding international or freestyle wrestling after college, I’ll leave it up in the air. I want to try international wrestling, but it’s all about how it works out. You never know what’s going to happen.

Are you a freestyle or folkstyle guy?

I’ve always been a big fan of freestyle. Freestyle is less scrambling, and I don’t like scrambling. 

I think freestyle favors the guy who’s pushing the action and taking shots. I think that’s good for me because I like to take shots. So, I think that works out a lot better in freestyle.

Q: How much thought have you given to NIL advancements, and what will that mean for you at Ohio State?

I haven’t even thought about that. I don’t even know what is going with all that stuff. If that situation did arise, that’d be when I have to talk to my dad and my coaches about what they think I should do because that I couldn’t handle it on my own.

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