Throwback to the 2008 Olympics when a high school kid made the Olympic Team!
I was recently cleaning up my old computer and ran into this blog/email. In 2008 coach Jake Deitchler made the Olympic Team 2 weeks after graduating from high school. I originally started writing an email to family and friends back home, which turned into a blog for The Guillotine.
I am leaving this morning for the Olympic Trials, so I went back to read these blogs. Hopefully, can give some of our MN Storm wrestlers some inspiration for the trials, and give some of our young PINnacle wrestlers a look at something they were too young to remember. Amazing as I re-read this blog how circumstances change, but my coaching philosophy has stayed the same.
Sorry for the formatting, had to pull these together from a couple different sources.
Olympic Update from Brandon Paulson
Brandon Paulson is the persoanl coach of Jake Deitchler. Paulson was an Olympic silver medalist at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
2008 Olympic Blog
"Get him tired, score points, have fun!"
Halfway through my 23 hour trip to Beijing I decided I would write a blog about my experiences so the great wrestling people of Minnesota could have a sense of what is going on at the 2008 Olympic Games. Of course, it would be better if Jake Deitchler himself would be writing this blog, but he needs to keep his distractions to a minimum. So you will have to settle for me.
What a whirlwind of a summer! Thinking back 3.5 years ago I would have never thought I would be back at the Olympics coaching a kid right out my high school. Heck, 4 months ago I wouldn't have believed it. For me, it all started after the Senior Nationals in Vegas in April. It wasn't even when Jake made the finals and came close to winning. It started at a practice at Bierman Field Athletic Building. Dan Chandler and I were talking about seeds for the upcoming Olympic Trials and whether it would be better to be on Harry Lester's side of the bracket, or the other side. Dan said to me, "Those guys at that weight aren't going to beat Harry, if anybody can beat him it will be Jake. A high energy wrestler that doesn't know how to quit, and can stay with him for a period or two can sneak one win off of Harry." Up to that point Harry Lester was unbeatable in my mind. He was THE GOLD MEDAL favorite in my eyes. Jake and I had watched many of his matches over the past two years and there was nobody better. But, What if? What if he wrestles him in the morning before some guys are ready to wrestle? What if you figure out a way to beat him at his own game? How easy would it be to look past a high school kid? I started to believe. Which means I needed to figure out how to make it happen. So Jake and I and Dan went to work. I studied tapes for a few days and didn't see too many weaknesses. But, I saw his strengths. Don't let him wrestle in his strengths and you find a weakness. Jake has always believed in himself, so it wouldn't be a tough sell to make him believe he can win. One of the first things I taught him was "Every time you step on the mat, you MUST BELIEVE that you are the best in the World" Not think, BELIEVE. Jake worked his butt off, and never questioned what Dan and I had him doing.
His training reminded me of something my former high school rival, Brandon Howe, said during Jake's sophomore year in high school, before he was the Jake we know now. Brandon Howe said," I really like watching your kid from Anoka" I responded "He's athletic, a great kid, trains his butt off, and listens to everything I say" and Brandon Howe responded "So he is basically everything you want in a wrestler" That says it best to me.
On to the Olympic Trials and Jake decided he wanted to make weight early in the morning so he could go watch the Olympic Trials. To make weight 7 hours early might sound crazy to anybody that has cut weight before, but he just loves wrestling that much. I think watching the trials that day helped him succeed the next day.
The next day was a magical one. What a lot of people don't realize is that Jake was 15 seconds away from losing his first match of the day. But in typical Deitchler fashion he scored a 3 point throw in the second period and breezed through the third.
Then came the match with one of his idols, Harry Lester. Our motto during training, and for the weekend was "Get the guy tired, score points, and have fun" I reminded him of this throughout his warm-up. I actually tried to keep his head away from his match and into watching other peoples matches. Right before his match was the semi-final on the other side, and Jake was so into watching that match that he didn't get as nervous about his own. "Let's have some fun" I yelled as he went out to the mat. In the first period Harry dominated Jake, but Jake continued to fight, especially on his feet. We felt Jake had to fight on his feet, which is something the Europeans don't always do. After losing the first, Jake stayed confident knowing the second and third was where he could win it. After every period at the trials Dan and I always stayed positive(even though he lost every first period). Telling him, "This is exactly where you want to be" Harry was leading in the second period with about 15 seconds left and I remember thinking "4-0, 3-2 isn't a bad loss against the best in the world" That is the last time I will doubt him. Jake then hit a beautiful front headlock that we taught him earlier that week and scored three points to win the period. Harry came out storming in the third, but Jake did exactly what Dan and I told him "You must move side to side, not straight forward" Harry spent a lot of energy on his feet, and had a lead going into the clinch position. Going into the last 30 seconds on top, Jake needed to score to win. "Score Points". I can still remember when Jake threw him for 3 points. I was jumping up and down on my recently surgically repaired knee(which I heard about later from wife who is also my P.T.) I think I screamed the whole way back to press row. I remember the press looking at me weird and one of them asked "What are you so happy about" My response was "Are you kidding? Did you see that? That was an 18 yr old beating the best guy in the world." I thought to myself "why aren't you excited?"
I really didn't have doubts that he would win in the finals, even though he was wrestling a great wrestler in Faruk Sahin. Jake gets better as the tournament goes on and I figured that even if he lost the first one he could get Faruk tired enough to win the next two. I will forever remember when Jake turned him for two to win the third period of the second match. For some reason, I had the same feeling as when I made it myself in 1996. I think it is the same feeling Kirby Puckett had as he ran around the bases in game 6 of the World Series after hitting the home run and pumping his fist yelling "YES, YES!"
I don't think a lot of understand how hard it is to accomplish what Jake did. He is the youngest American in over 30 years! 30 years ago we had ten weights and Greco in the US wasn't even close to as good as it is now. The US was the World Champions in Greco Roman wrestling in 2007, and this kid right out of high school had to go through some extremely tough wrestlers, including one of the best in the world. There are guys that train years and years and don't get a sniff of the Olympics. After '96 I trained 8 more years(with one year off in '97) and ended up second at the Olympic Trials twice. To me it is still unbelievable!
I said after losing the trials in 2004 that God has a plan for me. I beleive his plan was for me to train Jake.
A lot has changed since then, and the summer didn't turn out to what I thought it would be. I thought I would be in Istanbul, Turkey trying to coach Jake to a Junior World Title. Instead, I am in the plane on the way to
THE OLYMPIC GAMES!
Jakes training went very well the last 10 days in Minnesota. We worked on his current weakness, the first period of every match, and the first match of the day. It was a little frustrating for Jake to not be able to get his training partners tired(because I had them switch off on him or gave them enough time to rest in between periods). But, he realized he needed work on this area.
I will try to keep you updated on my experiences, and hopefully some of Jakes. The travel so far has been a little hectic. My flight was late to San Francisco and I had to run to the gate to get on the plane to Beijing. They held the door for me, as I was the last one on. Thank God I didn't have to stay in San Francisco for the day and night. On my plane is the U.S. mens Volleyball team, they are really tall. Also on the plane is the US Womens Soccer team, they all look really young, but it might be me being old. I am not sure how many hours this flight is, but whenever they say "The fifth movie of the flight will be Kung Fu Panda, and we will continue to repeat the movies until the flight is over" More than five movies isn't good! I watched about 3 hours of video for scouting his opponents. There is 19 tough dudes in his weight. But, nobody is unbeatable. I can't wait to get to Beijing and get the Super Freak ready to roll.
August 9th, 2008
The Olympic Games have started! Holy cow was that an awesome display last night. Good luck to London in 2012 trying to top that. I went with a few guys to a restaurant and watched with 150 other people from countries all around the world. Whenever a new team walked into the opening ceremonies, a group of people would shout and cheer. It was pretty cool.
Jake is having a great time, but is focused on competing at his highest level. He is looking GREAT! The improvements he makes in short periods of time is nothing short of amazing. I would say that he is 20% better than he was at the Olympic Trials. his mental attitude, and physical skills continue to improve. His training partner, Mark Rial, says that he isn't the same wrestler as he was two weeks ago.
He is having a great time in the village. Suprisingly (sarcasm) he talks to everybody he sees. Before the opening ceremonies last night he got a picture with The President of the United States. President Bush took a picture with every American team, that is pretty impressive. We went to the Great Wall of China, one of the 7 wonders of the world. Did you know that 1,000,000 people died building the great wall? The coolest part was taking a toboggon down. It is like a one man bobsled(skulls). Those things could move.
Now it is time for him to cut weight. That is something I don't miss. He is having a great attitude about it, and will get it done. Any prayers for strength during this difficult time would be great. This will be Jakes last time at 145.5, and he is looking forward to getting big.
As for myself, I am having a good time. Here they have live Olympic feeds of every event that is going on. It is awesome. I watched earlier the mens gymnastic team. They were awesome. I can't believe some of the things they do out there. I am going to try to get some tickets to the volleyball tonight. GO USA!!
I am getting pretty nervous. Did I forget anything? How is his weight? Did he train perfectly? etc... As an athlete, I trained as hard as I could, as smart as I could and had confidense in myself because of it. Hopefully, I did all the right things for Jake. I am going to spend the next three days with Jake and helping him get his weight off. My knee is hurting a little bit. I decided that three months was enough recovery from my acl reconstruction. This is the Olympics after all. My knee doesn't really agree with my assessment.
Hope all is well back in Minnesota. Win, Lose, or Draw, Jake has prepared that best that we know how and will have no regrets. It is now in God's hands.
August 10th, 2008
Hello again from the Olympics,
Crunch time! Jake had his last two mat practices in the past two days. I thought he may be starting to feel the effects of cutting weight. But that was not the case. I was sitting on the mat and I feel somebody hit me in the back. There is Jake, big smile on his face, hopping around. "I met this cool girl on the way over to the training site, she is a diver, and on and on and on." Needless to say, he was in great spirits and was his usual talkative self.
This past year I have implemented what we call "play wrestling" into his practices. Play wrestling is a low intensity wrestling somewhere between drilling (practicing technique) and hard wrestling. You open up to new positions, and try scoring and "playing around". It is perfect for this time when he really just needs to have some fun, and get weight off. Today Jake was on the mat a little bit and we played some soccer. Tyson Gay (one of the favorites in the 100 meter) stopped by and watched some practice, he was pretty amazed at what we do.
Jake's weight is a little higher than I wanted it to be, but he was still feeling good. I went over to the Olympic village with him to hang out and keep his mind off of wrestling and get him ready for another workout. I ran into Lindsey Davenport, whom I have watched a hundred times at Wimbledon or the U.S. Open. She had to pull out of the Olympics because of an injury, so I don't think she was in good spirits. We stopped by the rec area so we could have some friendly competition. I realize people are looking at us strange because we are getting into air hockey like most haven't seen. Unfortunately, Jake beat me in air hockey, but I crushed him in his favorite game, foosball.
We went to the workout area of the Olympic Village and it was unbelievable. It was not only huge, but had some machines I didn't know existed. It was packed with athletes from all over the world. Including the Russian Greco-Roman wrestling coaches, Islam Dugushiev – four-time World Champ, Mnazakan Iskandarian – five-time World Champ, and Georgi Kagoushivili – five-time World Champ. Thirteen World titles between the three of them. Ridiculous!
All the coaches and wrestlers on the team have told me how enjoyable it has been to be with Jake during this time at the Olympic Games. He is a very positive person to be around, and it rubs off on everybody else.
Crunch time for cutting weight tomorrow. This is the painful day before weigh-ins that wrestlers dread. He has worked really hard to keep his weight in control so he can wrestle at his optimum level. I am really feeling good about his chances for this tournament. If he gets past the first round, WATCH OUT! We have worked specifically on wrestling at his best in the first period, and in his first match. I am confident that this will help him start out fast.
By the way, did anyone see my little superstar mentioned in the NY TIMES, no not Jake, but Eli. The NY Times came with us to the Great Wall of China and I told him about my bedtime stories about the Great Wall of China and the warriors that fought there. Here is a link: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/08/sports/olympics/08wrestlers.html?ref=olympics
Another link to check out is the pictures from the Opening Ceremonies: http://www.themat.com/specialevents/2008/olympics/default.php
August 12th, 2008
Now it is time for some fun!
Weigh-ins are over and Jake is fat and happy. The last few days with Jake were pretty quiet, which didn't bug me too much. With him getting his weight down he wasn't so talkative. By one hour after weigh-ins, I couldn't shut him up. I told him I liked it better when he was cutting weight.
We went down to eat and watch the finals at 55kg and 60kg. The 55kg (the toughest weight in the world of course) match was awesome. The Russian wore down the Azerbajanian and won in two periods. Jake was pretty pumped after watching the finals and can't wait to get out on the mat. He feels great and is ready to go. I hope he gets a chance to show how exciting wrestling can be. He wrestles a guy from Krygestan (sp?). The guy he wrestles placed second in the world in 2006. This means nothing to Jake, he isn't scared of anybody. Every guy at the Olympics is a stud, and every guy can get beat.
Here is a couple links to look at about his bracket, and the schedule for his wrestling: http://www.nbcolympics.com/wrestling/resultsandschedules/day=5/index.html this is the schedule. Jake will be the first match in the round of 16 and will wrestle at approximately 9:50 AM in China, which is 8:50 PM on Tuesday night in the US. You can watch it live on the internet atwww.nbcolympics.com. Bracket: http://www.themat.com/specialevents/2008/olympics/brackets/GR66.htm.
Today we were just getting done with a workout, and walking out to the bus, when the USA basketball bus arrived (they are training at the same facility). These guys are TALL! (no short jokes please) Jake had just made scratch weight and I think some of the guys were scared of him. I think I was more impressed in the weight room yesterday with the Russian coaches and there 14 combined World Gold Medals. I don't think Jake could name more than three or four of the USA basketball team, but he could tell you what kind of shoes every 2004 Olympic wrestler wore. Yes, he has a serious shoe issue, and yes, we both have serious wrestling addictions as well.
Get him tired, score points, and HAVE FUN! Time to put the beat down.
"Today is the day that Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."
August 19, 2008
My wife and father have insisted that people actually care what I have to say and that I should write an Olympic recap for family, friends, and the wrestling community. This one is a little long winded, so read at your own risk.
It was great to be back and see Shelly, Eli, Sydney, and Abby. Shelly sacrifices so much to let me coach Jake. I am lucky she loves him like a son, and realizes I have a passion for wrestling and coaching. I have the best wife in the world, don't try to argue with me.
I had a great experience at the Olympic Games. It has been something I have been enamored with my whole life. There is nothing like it. I had goosebumps watching each and every medal match. The joy that these guys were feeling resonated throughout the gym. I didn't care if it was Russia, France, Georgia, or Cuba, I was happy for all of the champions because I know how hard and long these guys had worked to get to this specific moment. It really brings back great memories that I still have from Atlanta, I will never forget these memories.
I just got done watching Henry Cejudo win an Olympic Gold Medal. I caught myself yelling and screaming encouragement at my television screen. My son woke up and gave me some strange looks until he saw wrestling was on and joined in for screaming for "Cehooodo". It was awesome. My family is a little crazy about the Olympics, wrestling, and gymnastics.
Before I get to Jakes wrestling and his decision on his future I will tell another funny story from the games. This is one I heard from Jake. Last time I wrote, Jake had just left my room after making weight and eating until he couldn't walk. He headed back to the Olympic Village to get one more meal and then get to his bed and get to sleep. The village has a bunch of 10 story apartment-looking complexes where the athletes stay. Jake was staying on the 9th floor and he realized on the way up that he didn't have his keys. So he went to the coaches door and started pounding on the door. Nobody answered right away, so he peaked in and the gymnasts Alicia Sacramone and Nastia Luiken were walking toward him. He closed the door real quick, and they opened the door "Hey, what did you need, whats going on?" He shamefully explained that his dorm was right next door, and he went to the wrong dorm. The gymnast had to compete the next morning, I hope he didn't interuppt a team meeting. I think cutting weight makes you lose a few brain cells.
I hate losing
The only thing I dislike more than losing is talking about losing. I know it is not a Christian thing to say or do, so I have to pray for forgiveness. Seriously. I don't know what it is, but since I was little I have something inside of me that drives me to succeed. Jake has this same drive and it has made for some interesting wrestling practices, foosball matches, soccer matches, and sauna sit offs(I win most of these things but I am still having trouble getting over my loss in air hockey).
Maybe writing about it will be easier, so here goes.
I am very proud of Jake. He did everything I asked of him in preparation, and gave all of his heart out there on the mat. Because of this, I have failed him in some way.
Many people have been confused with the scoring, wrestling and non-wrestling alike, so i figure I should explain it. If nobody has scored any points on the feet they take out a ball (red and blue are in the bag) and whomever ball color comes out goes on top first, and bottom last. If a wrestler doesn't get scored on from bottom he receives 1 point for his defense and the last person to score(in a tie) wins the period. So, if you are blue and a blue ball is grabbed, you will win the period if nobody scores a point because you are on bottom last.
Hopefully that helps. Now as far as my point of view of Jake's matches;
He started off slow, again. I actually expected that and wasn't too worried. He came back to the corner with his head down and i tapped his chin up and said "same thing as the match at the Trials, now come back and score some points" After one minute on the feet and nobody scored, they had to grab a ball out of the bag. I might have been the only one from America that wanted the other guys color to pop up. Jake has showed that if he has to score to win, he will. He was put in the position at the Olympic trials to be on top last and it worked out well . It worked again on this match as he turned his opponent from krygestan. I had visions of Olympic Gold as he turned his opponent. It looked like a replica of his matches at the Olympic Trials. Unfortunately, he made a mistake and tried to hold on and his opponent reversed him and turned him for two to tie it up and win the second period and the match. As I stated in my first email, if he wins his first match he will be dangerous. I truly believe that if Jake wins that match he could have been on top of the podium. In fact, if he wins that match I would have been suprised if he didn't come away with a medal.
Jake received the chance to wrestle back for a bronze medal after his opponent made the finals. His next opponenet, Armen Vardanyan, defeated defending Olympic and World Champion Farid Mansurov, in the first round of the tournament and then was defeated by the guy from Krygestan. Jake out-wrestled Armen and had him exactly where he wanted him. Many people have expressed outrage, and expressed that it is lucky that his opponents color was choosen from the bag each time. Luck has nothing to do with it. You score points, you win matches. Ask all of the Olympic champions, they scored points, they won. I remember in the third period and his opponents color was picked, Jake looked at me and I yelled,"that's what we want" and he nodded. He wants the last shot on top, he won't be denied in that position again. I made a mistake and didn't yell loud enough to go for the low reverse lift, because I knew the high reverse would slip off (it was very humid in China). I should have went over that point more before hand. He didn't score and the Ukrainian went on to win a Bronze medal. Jake out-wrestled him, and is the better wrestler. He is right there with the best in the world.
I was sitting with Jake the next day watching the finals. The final at 84 kg was a relatively unknown guy from Italy, who came out of a terribly tough bracket, and a wrestler from Hungary. The first two periods were won 1-1 with the guy whose ball was picked won. Before they went to grab the ball from the bag (because nobody scored on the feet again), I said to Jake and others we were sitting with "The person on top last will win, the person whose color is picked will lose" Sure enough, the Italian's color was not picked, but lifted his opponent to win the match as he was the last one on top. Champions will score points to win. Luck has nothing to do with it. The color of the ball didn't matter to any of the champions. It may help you win one match, but it won't win you a World/Olympic Championship. I know people don't like the new rules, but it certainly gives each guy a chance to win.
The Greco team wrestled with a lot of heart, but only came away with one medal. Adam Wheeler achieved a life long dream by winning a bronze medal. We will do better next time. I feel for my former teammate, Brad Vering, who may have wrestled his last match. I know how hard it is to go out in heartbreak.
Jake has decided to wrestle Greco full time. This isn't a decision that was made overnight. This has been in his heart for a long time. I originally fought for him to go to the University of Minnesota and wrestle collegiate style. I believed that would be best. But, that is not what is in Jake's heart and dreams and I am going to support him 100%. Jake's goals are to be an Olympic/World Champion and be the best Greco Roman wrestler ever. To accomplish these goals, wrestling Greco full time is the only choice. It is hard for Americans to understand that his first goal isn't to be a NCAA champion. This doesn't interest him, doesn't drive him. He was going to go to the U to please his friends, me, and family. But, he is going to follow his dreams. Isn't that what sport is all about? Jake would love to live in Minnesota, get a college scholarship, and wrestle Greco. But this isn't a possibility. At the Olympic Training Center he will get his tuition, room, and board paid for and be able to do what he LOVES. He has went through the positives and negatives, but always comes up with the same decision. Some of his best friends go to the U of M, hopefully they understand his decision. I know his true friends will. Nothing is ever guaranteed, you can only do everything in your power to put yourself in the best position to accomplish your dreams. Jake has the possibility to accomplish great things. Hopefully, the Minnesota Storm wrestling club, and the minnesota wrestling community will stick by him. I believe God has a plan for everybody, and this is his plan.
For little wrestlers "Believe in yourself, be the best conditioned, score points, and above all, have fun and enjoy the fight"
Hope to see you all in London in 2012, and hopefully Chicago in 2016 (as Jake and Abby walk together in the opening ceremonies)