Two losses ended sophomore heavyweight Jake Kettler’s long trip to the NCAA tournament.

In the preliminary round Kettler lost to Indiana University’s Adam Chalfant. This moved him to the consolation bracket, which pitted him against Dan Scherer from Stanford University.

“It was tough. I had a plan and stuck to it mostly but I just had some lapses,” said Kettler about his first round loss. “I was wrestling hard. It wasn’t a lack of effort. It just came down to me not knowing some positions and some little mistakes, which ended up having a big impact on the match.”

Kettler has come a long way this year, along with the Mason team as a whole. However, he was the only member of the team that qualified for the NCAA. On March 13, while most students were relaxing over their spring break, Kettler was getting anxious about his qualification.

“I planned on qualifying from once I started college wrestling, and I was certain I was going to get in because I’ve put in a lot of work. But it was stressful not knowing,” Kettler said. “I have been here for three years as a spectator and now I’ve been seeing a lot of familiar faces and old teammates as a competitor.”

The scheduling of matches gave Kettler several hours of time to prepare physically and mentally.

He even had time to stop back at the hotel for rest and food before what would be his final match.

“I have watched some video with him to get familiar, but we don’t want him to think too much,” said coach Joe Russell. “I need to get him ready to wrestle as hard as he can but also let him just do his thing.”

As the strongest wrestler in the program, and the sole member to qualify for the NCAA, Russell has spent a lot of time learning how to ensure Kettler performs his best.



“He [Russell] is a great guy to have in the corner. He ensures that my needs are met and keeps me relaxed and focused.” Kettler said.

After losing his first match 8–3, Kettler was in a do or die situation and was beaten by Scherer in a final score of 4–1.

While the championship quest yielded no results, just getting to the NCAA has been good for Kettler and the Mason program as a whole.

“[I] saw and learned a lot here, and it will be good to share with the the rest of the team, especially in planning to come back here next year,” Russell said. “He’s done a good job but came up short.”

The NCAA was not the biggest stage for Kettler. He has a strong record preceding his time at Mason when he wrestled at the University of Minnesota and qualified for the U.S. Olympics trials.

After taking the remainder of his weekend off Kettler plans to get back into the gym and start training for the US open coming up in April.

“I have learned a lot this year and the past three weeks have been some of the best wrestling I have ever done but I still need to work on some things and take a lot of time to figure stuff out,” Kettler said.

As this year is not a summer Olympics year he plans on attending the world championship tryouts in June. He is very committed to getting himself to be as strong as possible for next year’s college season.

“While it would have been nice to have the other nine guys here with me to get better, I have to focus on myself. I got to be a little bit selfish,” Kettler said.

The losses came down to preparedness and attention to detail, a lesson that both Russell and Kettler will ensure their team learns from.

“There are no tricks or anything. It just just comes down to working hard,” Kettler said.

The year, as a whole, had some ups and downs for Mason wrestling. The challenges they have faced are no longer obstacles to overcome but stepping stones of progress.

Getting shut out at the NCAA, a tough schedule against top tier teams and a small budget have made Russel and the Patriots stronger.

“Really, I am just very excited about looking forward to next year,” Kettler said.