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After winning nearly 90 percent of his high school matches, Keokuk's Julian Feikert discovered what premiere college wrestling was all about at Oklahoma State.
"My freshman year was more of a transitional year. The majority of it was about me getting used to college wrestling and getting into 7-minute conditioning shape, because you're used to 6 minutes, and that extra minute makes a big difference in matches,"
With two years in the OSU program, including a redshirt season, Julian saw starting time at 141 pounds this past season as a third-year sophomore. But a mid-season setback left him to wonder how many more starts he might get.
"In one of my dual meets, I lost by tech-fall, and during the match my opponent and I were in a weird scramble and he tore my shoulder out. I felt my shoulder give and separate a little bit. When that happened I knew something was wrong,"
It was a torn left labrum and rotator cuff - two injuries that had Julian on the mend for the rest of his sophomore year. But he's using it all as a learning experience, helping him prepare for his final two seasons.
"A lot of it is mental and I've learned that a majority of it is mental and you have to deal with a lot of injuries and a lot of adversity. And if you're not in prime conditioning or ready to go, then someone is going to be there to replace you. You've got to realize that, because it builds mental toughness,"
Feikert says he's approaching 100 percent health, which is exactly what the Cowboys will need out of him. You see, there's lofty goals in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Julian could play a pivotal role these next two years for a team whose mission statement can be summed up in just four words: national championship or bust.
"Yeah pretty much. We're reaching for the top and we don't want anything less than first, so that's what we're going for,"