Aug. 14, 2009
The Oklahoma wrestling team is gearing up for another season with voluntary workouts in August. SoonerSports.com caught up with junior Nathan Fernandez on how he spent his summer, his evaluations of last season and expectations of the upcoming year.
The Lawton, Okla., product produced a 21-12 record last season, highlighted by a victory over the No. 10 seed Ryan Flores of Columbia at the NCAAs last March. Fernandez is aiming to start at heavyweight for his third straight year in a Sooner singlet.
How did you spend your free time this summer?
“This summer I took two classes and worked camp. I worked out as much as I could, just tried to get in the room and wrestle. I worked the OU camps in June and July. As far as school goes, I am on track to graduate next May with a degree in Human Relations."
Are you ready for school to start in a couple of weeks?
"Yes, I am ready for school to start back up. I am ready to get back into a routine. I have been a little bored lately."
What did you focus on to improve this summer?
"I have been trying to improve my top and bottom work, specifically the top. I wanted to really concentrate on getting better riding people. I lifted a couple times a week but mostly I went in and wrestled."
Last season you went 21-12 and advanced to the NCAA Championships. Looking back, how do you evaluate your sophomore season?
"I think I did pretty well, but I know I could have done a lot better. There were a lot of matches that I was close to winning that I didn’t win. I think being able to ride people more effectively will help a lot, as well as staying in good position. Having now qualified for the NCAA championships, it makes you want to go back. I know I can do better if I go back so I have to work hard to get there."
You are an upper-classmen this season, how much of a leadership role will you play on this team?
"I am not a big vocal leader, I just try to lead by example and do what I need to do and not make mistakes. We have a lot of freshmen so just doing the right things and working hard is something they need to see."
What are you personal, team goals for this season?
"I want to win my Big 12 matches and be Big 12 champion. Hopefully, be a national champion. That is always the ultimate goal to be on the podium. As far as the team, if our team wins some Big 12 duals it will prepare us to be most successful on a national level. I think we will."
Talk about what new OU assistant Sammie Henson adds to the program.
"He has brought a new level of intensity and we are all working harder and being pushed more than we have ever been pushed. We are all really looking forward to this year."
The 2009 recruiting class was ranked consensus top three in the country which means quality depth and competition in each weight class. How does that competition help to push everyone?
"The freshmen are all looking good. They are coming in and working hard, they are going to be tough. That competition to start makes a big difference. If you have someone trying to work to take your spot it makes you step up your game to keep your starting spot. It makes everyone better."
What would Sooner fans be most surprised to learn about you?
I like to play Halo III and UFC on X-Box 360. I also go noodling, it’s fun. We go back home to Lake Ellsworth by Lawton. It is fun catching big fish and it is a nice excuse to get away and relax.
How is the team enjoying the new facilities?
They are awesome. It is good to be able to go in and lift whenever you need to or go to the steam room whenever you want. The team room is nice to come in and sit on the couches and watch TV, chill out before and after class.
How excited are you and the team about hosting the 2010 Big 12 Championships here at home in Norman?
"Yea we are excited. it will be great and more relaxing for our guys to compete. It will be great to have more of our fans out to cheer us on."