MOORE — The key to any great college program is getting the local talent in their own backyard. It’s a problem the Oklahoma wrestling team has struggled with in the past.
However, that looks like that may have come to an end when Southmoore senior Nathan Marek signed a national letter of intent Nov. 13 to wrestle for the Sooners.
“One of the things coach (Mark) Cody told me he wanted to do was keep the good kids here,” Southmoore coach Greg George said. “If you look at OU, OSU and those type of programs, when they have won a national championship, they had at least half the team coming from Oklahoma. I think in Oklahoma you have to do that. You can’t let the good kids get away.”
However, the Sooners didn’t have to worry too much about losing Marek. The former 160-pound state champion was going to stay in the state no matter what. He just had to decide which state school he wanted to spend his next four years at.
“I wanted to stay in state the whole time,” Marek said. “So I didn’t really have a big old pot of offers. It was going to be OU or OSU. I have been looking forward to signing since I was little. Always wanted to go D-I. Never wanted to go anything lower than that.”
Marek said he looked at both programs and it was the Sooners who won out in the end.
“OU started contacting me in February,” Marek said. “The program they are building up is great. I like the environment, I like the guys, I like the coaches. They are all nice people. I just liked it a lot better than OSU. I grew up an OSU fan. So it was a little weird at first changing over. I figured out in March it was OU. It wasn’t a hard decision either. They were really outreaching for me.”
Marek is coming off a junior season in which he took second at state and was the runner-up at the National High School Coaches Association Wrestling tournament. He earned his state title as a sophomore.
“Nathan is one of those guys who is an all around wrestler,” Southmoore assistant coach James Seeney said. “He does wrestling. That’s what he comes into the room to do. He is not here for anything else. He’s got one sport. Everything that he’s done since I’ve seen him in junior high has been about wrestling. He was going to go to college and wrestle. That was his goal.”
That attitude and focus is a main reason Marek, who began wrestling in second grade, is the first Southmoore wrestler to earn a D-I wrestling scholarship. He’s also set the bench mark for other wrestlers to follow in the program.
“It’s unbelievable,” George said. “When you have a kid that works as hard as he has. He has a lot of great credentials. All of those have been right here. He didn’t move in or transfer.
He started wrestling with us and he’s one of our first year products. We are really, really proud of him. Anytime you can get a kid to go D-I, it’s a really special thing. It just doesn’t happen very often.”
Marek has set high expectations for himself at every level. That includes what he wants to make happen once he joins the Sooners.
“When I’m there, I feel like I’m part of the college,” Marek said. “ I started thinking, if I can compete with these guys now, what’s it going to be like when I’m in college.
So there are definitely NCAA All-American like goals I want. But that’s not something I’m setting right now. I’m still in high school. I always had the mindset that I really like to win and don’t like to lose.”
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