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Jake Deitchler

Deitchler wrestled in Summer Olympics in Beijing, won first medal in an international meet

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Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Jake Deitchler expected to wrestle in the Olympics some day.

Deitchler's dream came true a few years early.

The 18-year-old, who won three state Class AAA high school titles for Anoka, became only the third high school athlete to make the United States Olympic wrestling team by winning the 145.5-pound Greco-Roman title at the U.S. Olympic trials in Las Vegas in June.

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Jake is the son of Park Rapids graduates Jason and Racheal Deitchler and the grandson of Lewy and Denise Deitchler of Osage and Ron and Gloria Pettersen of Park Rapids.

"Wrestling in the Olympics has always been Jake's goal. I knew it would happen some day. I didn't think it would happen at 18 years old," said Jason Deitchler, who won the state Class A heavyweight title as a senior at Park Rapids in 1988. "We figured he might have a chance to make it in 2012. Jake has such a passion for wrestling. He can accomplish anything he wants, but it was still a shock that he made it. It was a lot of fun. Everybody who knows him around Park Rapids is excited."

Deitchler's dream of winning an Olympic gold medal will have to wait four years.

Things didn't go according to Deitchler's plans at the Summer Olympics in Beijing.

In his first match on Aug. 13, Deitchler lost 6-0, 3-3 to Kanatbek Begaliev of Kyrgyzstan.

Deitchler received another match when Begaliev reached the championship match. Begaliev would end up winning the silver medal.

Unfortunately, the 18-year-old American couldn't capitalize on his second opportunity as Armen Vardanyan of Ukraine prevailed 1-1, 1-3, 1-1 to advance and end Deitchler's shot at winning an Olympic medal. Vardanyan advanced through the bracket to capture a bronze medal.

"It was a little tough to take," said Jason Deitchler. "Jake knew he could wrestle at that level. He was right there. Jake didn't wrestle bad. He just lost a couple of close ones to more experienced wrestlers."

In Greco-Roman wrestling, each match consists of three three-minute periods. Begaliev needed just 3:24 to defeat Deitchler in the first round.

A hip toss gave Begaliev a 3-0 lead and an arm throw made it 6-0 to give Begaliev the win in the first period by technical fall just 24 seconds into the match.

In the second period, Deitchler went up 3-0 with a point for defense and two points for a front headlock turn. Deitchler was in position to force a third period when Begaliev responded to tie the match at 3-3 with a reversal and exposure in the final 13 seconds. Since Begaliev scored the final point, he was declared the winner in the second period and the match.

In his second match on Aug. 13, Deitchler outscored his opponent but didn't win the match.

To start each period, the referee pulls a ball out of a bag to determine who starts the period on top. Vardanyan gained the advantage in all three periods.

Vardanyan won the first period 1-1 by defending on the bottom last. In the second period, Deitchler blocked a throw attempt and scored a two-point reversal with exposure for a 3-1 win. The third period finished the same as the first period as Vardanyan defended last to score the final point and receive the win.

That loss gave Deitchler 12th place in his division.

"He came here expecting to win. He didn't come here to participate. He came here expecting to win," said Deitchler's coach Brandon Paulson following the tournament. "It's disappointing to come here and see him not get what he wanted. I'm not disappointed in him at all. He prepared as best as he possibly could. He was ready to go. He did everything that he was supposed to do. He tried his best and that's all you can ask for. He gave 100 percent effort."

"It hurts really bad. I worked really hard to prepare for this tournament. I came here to win a medal. It definitely hurts," said Jake Deitchler during his press conference after his matches. "I'll move on from this and grow from it. It will motivate me to work harder. I'll continue to work hard and get better and hopefully I'll get another shot in London in 2012. When London rolls around, I'll be ready."

Family proud of effort

Even though Deitchler lost both his matches in Beijing, his family couldn't have been prouder of the effort.

Accompanying Jake to Beijing were his parents, Jason and Racheal; his sisters, Abigail and Angelina; his grandparents, Lewy and Denise of Osage and Virgil Fairbanks of Mahnomen; his aunt and uncle, Michelle and Kelly Kimball of Park Rapids; and another aunt, Pam Fairbanks of Ponsford.

Following the 20-hour flight to China, that group watched Jake wrestle before spending the rest of the weeklong vacation sightseeing in Beijing.

"It was a wonderful trip. I really enjoyed it," said Lewy Deitchler. "Jake did a really good job representing the United States. He lost by a little bit in both matches. It was quite an honor watching him wrestle in the Olympics. Not a lot of people get a chance to do that."

"It was a great trip. It was fun being there with the family. We had a wonderful time," said Denise Deitchler. "The awe of seeing Jake in that auditorium with the best wrestlers in the world is something I'll always remember.

"Having Jake wrestle in the Olympics has been a dream for all of us," said Jason Deitchler. "We had a good time. I didn't relax for the first four days. After Jake was done wrestling I had three days to relax and enjoy our vacation. It was a nice time."

Next goal: Gold in London

Before he qualified for the Olympics, Deitchler had planned on wrestling for the University of Minnesota.

After holding his own with two of the best wrestlers in the world in Beijing, Deitchler has decided to train with the U.S. Olympic team full time in Colorado Springs and prepare for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

"Jake has decided to wrestle and train full time with the Olympic team," said Jason Deitchler. "He's going to move up to 163 pounds. There are a lot of tough guys at that weight, but he's up for the task. I expect him to do well."

"Now we have to start saving up for London," said Denise Deitchler. "Jake will be wrestling against the best competition in the world. Jake is only going to get better with age. He has a lot of good years ahead of him."

"Hopefully four years from now we're getting ready to go again," said Lewy Deitchler. "Jake has a lot of determination. In 2012 he's going to go for the gold."

"His dream is to be the best in the world and win a gold medal in London," said Jason Deitchler. "If he trains hard over the next four years, I think he'll win it."

Deitchler is well on his way to fulfilling his main goal of an Olympic gold medal.

At Sweden's Haparanda Cup in November, Deitchler finished third in the 74-kilogram Greco-Roman division. That bronze medal was Deitchler's first medal in an international competition.

Deitchler plans to enter tournaments in Iran, Cuba and Turkey over the next few months.

Deitchler earned Olympic berth

Deitchler needed four come-from-behind victories at the Thomas and Mack Center to earn his Olympic berth.

In his first match, Deitchler defeated Shannon Slack 1-5, 4-1, 8-1. In the semifinals, Deitchler rallied to defeat 24-year-old Harry Lester 0-5, 5-2, 5-3. Lester, a two-time world bronze medalist, was favored to win a medal at the Olympics this year. Lester retired from wrestling following the U.S. Olympic trials.

Deitchler capped off his tournament run by defeating 32-year-old Faruk Sahin in the best-of-three finals. Deitchler won the first match 0-5, 7-4, 1-1 and claimed the Olympic berth with a 2-3, 7-5, 3-0 victory in the second match. Deitchler trailed 5-0 in the second period of the second match before scoring 7 straight points to spark the win.

"Harry Lester, I thought, could win a gold medal for us in Beijing, for sure. He's that good," U.S. Greco-Roman coach Steve Fraser told the Associated Press. "He (Deitchler) did it on his conditioning, he outwrestled everybody, he was in everybody's face. He got Harry Lester tired, he got Faruk Sahin tired. That's how you beat a guy who has better skills, you take him out of his game and get him tired."

"We knew he had a shot if he wrestled the way he can," said Jason Deitchler. "The guys there are good and have more experience. But they weren't used to Jake's pace. He's young and aggressive and he has a huge heart. He got beat in every first period, but he won every second and third period. He gave it everything he had."

Having success on the mats is nothing new for Deitchler.

After going 15-17 as a seventh grader, Deitchler compiled a 31-14 record and finished sixth at 112 pounds at the state Class AAA tournament as an eighth grader. As a freshman, Deitchler went 32-6 and placed fifth at 125 pounds at the state Class AAA tournament.

His final three years in high school resulted in three state titles and a 123-1 record.

Deitchler went 45-1 and won his first state title at 140 pounds as a sophomore and followed with a 40-0 record and a state title at 145 as a junior. Deitchler capped off his high school career with a 38-0 record and the state title at 152 pounds. Deitchler ended his high school career with 111 consecutive victories and a school-record 201 victories.

Deitchler, who was the Greco-Roman Junior National Champion in 2007, prepared for earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic team with a runner-up showing at the U.S. Nationals.

That gave Deitchler a shot at wrestling in the Olympic trials. And the 18-year-old took advantage to become the first high school wrestler to make the U.S. Olympic team since Mike Farina Greco-Roman in 1976. The only other high school wrestler to make the U.S. Olympic team was Jimmy Carr in freestyle in 1972.

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