August 11, 2022

Bouzakis, Feldman Set to Represent Team USA in Bulgaria

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Incoming freshmen Buckeyes Nic Bouzakis (61kg) and Nick Feldman (125kg) along with Ohio State wrestling assistant coaches J Jaggers and Logan Stieber are traveling Thursday to Sofia, Bulgaria, after spending the last six weeks preparing for the 2022 U20 Junior World Championships Aug. 15-21.

Bouzakis and Feldman will represent the United States in the freestyle competition after earning spots at the World Team Trials in early June.

Since making the U.S. World U20 Junior World Championships team, both Bouzakis and Feldman won gold at the U20 Pan American Championships July 10 in Oaxtepec, Mexico. Redshirt freshman Andre Gonzalez (57kg) also won gold at the U20 Pan American Championships in the freestyle event.

Watch Buckeyes Preview Junior World Championships

In recent weeks former Buckeye Kollin Moore and several members of the 2022-23 Ohio State squad, including senior Malik Heinselman and incoming freshman Seth Shumate, have remained in Columbus helping Bouzakis and Feldman prepare for the international competition.

Moore, the last Buckeye to earn a spot on the U.S. Junior World (U20) team, said Bouzakis and Feldman have been working diligently for the trip to Bulgaria after stellar high school careers.

“It’s just a different level,” Moore said of competing overseas. “Especially after just coming out of high school. The competition is just eye-opening. You get to wrestle against some of the best kids in the world. Everything is a learning experience and the more you experience, the more you learn.”

Moore had a full year of practice at the collegiate level and another summer of training before competing in the 2017 World Juniors, where he earned a bronze medal for Team USA. Moore was an alternate for Team USA at 97kg in the most recent 2020 Olympic games.

A four-time All-American, Moore said international competition is far different than what the current Buckeyes are used to in the states.

“They have a lot of tricks up their sleave and are very good technically,” Moore said of international wrestlers. “You just have to be ready for anything. You don’t want to wrestle at their pace. USA guys are starting to get a handle on that and continue to wrestle with our conditioning.”

Bouzakis and Feldman both have experience wrestling in Mexico with Bouzakis having added experience traveling to Russia. Both are achieving goals of representing the United States on the mat.

“It means a lot,” Bouzakis said. “It means I’m on the right track. This is every wrestler’s dream to represent the United States. I’m not one of those guys yet but it I’m about to be one of the top-notch guys.

“Wrestling internationally, it just really opened my eyes as to how much more I need to do to achieve my goals,” Bouzakis said. “I want to be an Olympic champion. Being here (at OSU) and going overseas to see what other people do really opens your eyes to see what you need to work toward and achieve to even be a part of that special group that wins the Olympics.”

“I’ve grown up watching all the junior and senior level guys representing the U.S.,” Feldman said. “My goal has always been to be one of those guys. To do it alongside my teammate Bouzakis and have my coaches here with me is amazing. I’m so excited.”

Tom Ryan, who along with Stieber, Jaggers and assistant Bo Jordan, attracted the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class to Columbus this year, said Bouzakis and Feldman will benefit from competing with the U.S. team.

“These guys are difference makers,” Ryan said. “Making the junior world team is extremely difficult. Typically, you will find more college freshmen make the team. This is not that common. They will have other chances to make the team.”

Stieber, who is entering the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame this fall, is no stranger to international competition. He will be one of the U.S. assigned coaches at the event in addition to working with both Ohio State wrestlers.

“The junior worlds is a prestigious event,” Stieber said. “You see a lot of guys who wrestle in the junior worlds wrestle in the senior worlds and Olympics the following year. I’m excited for (Bouzakis and Feldman) to compete next week.”

Jaggers, who will serve as a personal coach to both Bouzakis and Feldman next week, said the trip to Bulgaria will have a greater impact than just the work on the mat.

“It’s a great experience,” Jaggers said. “When I was kid wrestling I never thought it would take me to another country. To see the world and complete against someone who speaks a different language is just a great cultural experience.”

Ohio State’s 2022-23 schedule gets underway Nov. 11 at the Covelli Center in Columbus vs. Virginia Tech. For ticket information go to OhioStateBuckeyes.com or call 1-800-GoBucks.

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