Junior Hodge winner Feldman welcomes all comparisons to great wrestlers

Updated: May 12, 2022

Photo: Among Nick Feldman’s 38 victories this past winter for Malvern Prep was a major decision against Kolby Franklin of Wyoming Seminary for his second Ironman championship in December. (Robert Preston photo)

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Note: This story was first published in WIN Magazine’s Annual Awards Issue, which was printed on May 6. Other award stories in this issue included features on the NWCA’s Mike Moyer (Mike Chapman Impact Award), Michigan’s Sean Bormet (Dan Gable Coach of the Year), Mat Talk Online’s Jason Bryant (Journalist of the Year), Air Force’s Wyatt Hendrickson (Schalles Award), Ryder Rogodzke of Stillwater, Minn. (Junior Schalles) and WIN’s state-by-state high school Wrestlers of the Year. Click here or call 888-305-0606 to subscribe to WIN Magazine.

By Mike Finn

Nick Feldman expects to be redshirted next winter by Ohio State, but can’t wait for his first chance at becoming the Buckeyes’ first NCAA heavyweight champ since Kyle Snyder collected his third national college championship in 2018.

Feldman, who has a similar build and look to the Olympic and World champion, is also ready for the comparisons between Snyder and himself.

“Those are shoes I hope I can fill someday,” said Feldman, the nation’s top high school heavyweight from Malvern Prep in Pennsylvania. “I hope I get to that level because I have really modeled my style after Kyle. I genuinely hope I can be as good as him.”

Based on Feldman’s performance this past year, when he went 38-0, recorded 20 pins and won both the Ironman and the National Preps for a second time, it appears this native of Quarryville, Pa., certainly has the potential to duplicate in college what he first did on the prep level.

For his dominant senior season, Feldman was named the winner of the 2022 WIN Magazine Junior Hodge Trophy, presented by Resilite and WIN Magazine to the nation’s most dominant high school wrestler.

“We’re extremely excited to add Nick Feldman to the list of Junior Dan Hodge Trophy winners as the most dominant wrestler in the country,” said WIN Publisher Bryan Van Kley. “He’s very deserving and the sky is the limit on his potential in college and beyond.

“In addition, he’s a great representative of the sport. His family’s commitment to make the long commute to Malvern Prep shows their level of dedication to Nick’s career and their love for the sport. He’s a very worthy recipient of the Heisman Trophy of high school wrestling.”

Feldman — who also has won Beast of the East and Powerade titles as well as a pair of victories at Flowrestling’s Who’s No. 1 event — has made the one-hour trip for the past four years to Malvern, Pa., which sits east of Feldman’s hometown and 25 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

“My freshman year, a teammate and myself would take a train out of Lancaster City to Malvern,” he recalled. “I would be getting up at 5:30, go to school and practice and get back home at 9:30 in the evening. They were long days and tough for the first two years. I got my driver’s license my junior year, which made it a lot easier. But every second of that trip was worth it.

“Malvern has really helped shape me and really made me the man I’ve become. I’m super grateful for everything Malvern has given me.”

Feldman admits he can be super competitive within a family that includes an older sister and two younger brothers, who also wrestle. Nick credits his father Josh — who became Virginia Tech’s second All-American in 1994 when he finished seventh nationally — for getting him into the sport.

“He took me to my first club practice when I was five years old and I loved it,” said Nick. “I kept saying I want to go back so we kept going to practice for two years before I competed in my first wrestling tournament. I just remember loving it. When my brothers were born, they (eventually) also came into the room and we wrestled at home (when they grew up). It’s kind of a family thing.”

Nick said his father helped me with more than learning moves.

 “He helped me develop mental toughness and telling me what it takes to be a champion,” Nick said. “He was writing me lifting programs when I was 11 years old. He was in the Navy and gone many times. But when he was home, he would always take me to practice and was doing stuff with me.

“When he was on deployment, my mom (Connie) was taking me to the gym and practice. I am really lucky to have parents who are so dedicated to their children.”

Nick also said that mental toughness helped him during the past year, when the pandemic hindered many young wrestlers.

“Last year was tough for a lot of guys,” he said. “I had my goals written down and many tournaments got cancelled. I told myself I had to win these tournaments and be as dominant as possible.

“It was kind of a mindset that I told myself, ‘You need this. You are going to get this.’ That really was turning on the switch for me.”

The young wrestler said it was important to actually write down his goals.

“Anybody can say they want to be a national champ,” he said. “If you write them down and put it where you can see it, you are never going to forget it.”

Feldman hopes to also focus on his freestyle wrestling moving forward. He recently won the 20U championship at the recent U.S. Open in Las Vegas. But, he also could be part of something special at Ohio State where two other 2022 Junior Hodge finalists — Nik Bouzakis of Wyoming Seminary and Jesse Mendes (the 2021 Junior Hodge winner) of Indiana — will also wrestle for the Buckeyes.

“This tells me the Buckeyes are going to be national champs soon,” said Feldman. “There are a lot of great coaches around the country but those Ohio State coaches (like Tom Ryan) are really something else.”

So too is Nick Feldman.