Flint Carman-Ainsworth state champion Jake Weissend eager to begin college wrestling career at Olivet
Oct 15, 2012
Originally published in the Flint Journal Oct. 14, 2012
By Mark Spezia
FLINT, MI—Jake Weissend’s family has played too instrumental a role in his wrestling for him to continue his career far away from them.
Weissend, who last March became Carman-Ainsworth’s first state champion in 11 years, wanted to wrestle for a small-school powerhouse, and that’s what made Olivet College the perfect choice.
The Comets have consistently been one of the top NCAA Division 3 programs, sending five wrestlers to the national championships last season. The college, located in Olivet, between Lansing and Battle Creek, is less than 90 miles from Weissend’s home.
“I was really looking for a smaller campus where wrestling is one of the top sports,” Weissend, who went 58-0 as a senior. “I really liked Olivet’s campus and it’s nice that it’s so close to home, too. The coaching staff has been great. They are really focused on winning a national championship and have helped me so much already.”
However, it took a long Midwest road trip for Weissend to make a final decision.
Weissend and his father, Carman-Ainsworth wrestling coach Tom Weissend, visited 11-time Division 3 national champion Augsburg College in Minneapolis, then swung down to another Division 3 power, Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.
On the way back, the Weissends visited Olivet a second time and the search was over.
“I walked around the campus at Augsburg and really loved the wrestling program, but I just was not sure the area was right for me,” Jake said. “The Luther coaches were amazing and the school was nice and on the way back to Michigan, I was thinking it was between Luther and Olivet. Then, when we got to Olivet, I just fell in love with the place and realized it is where I need to be.”
Tom Weissend could hardly be more pleased with his son’s decision.
“I could tell Jake really felt at home at Olivet and really comfortable with the coaching staff,” he said. “I really liked the fact that the head coach (Brandon Brissette) told him that he wanted to win a national championship with Michigan wrestlers and the coach really helped him as far as what Jake needed to do to prepare for college and, hey, if he wants to come home for a weekend, he’ll be here in about 90 minutes.”
Under Brissette, the Comets went 18-5 last season and sent five wrestlers to the national championships. The staff also includes former New Lothrop assistant Kyle Wiesenberger.
“The coaches are just great guys, who do everything to help you improve on the mat and life in general,” Jake Weissend said. “They have helped work on things like getting out of trouble when I am on the bottom in a match, because that has not been one of my strengths. They have helped me as far as strength training and other things.”
With wrestling such a part of his family’s fabric, it seems only natural Weissend took up the sport at a young age. In fact, his uncle Mike Weissend was coaching the Cavaliers’ varsity team when Jake was introduced to the sport.
“When I was about five years old, my dad took me to a Carman-Ainsworth practice and I really loved the sport after trying it,” said Jake, whose uncle Robert Weissend is also part of the Cavaliers’ coaching staff. “It did take me some time to become good at it, but I knew wrestling would pay off for me if I just stuck with it.”
The sport has indeed been good to Weissend.
A three-time state qualifier and two-time state medalist, Weissend capped his senior season with a perfect record and the Division 1, 145-pound state championship. He was a third-team All-State Dream Team pick by michigangrappler.com and went 2-2 at the Senior National Championships in April.
Weissend finished his prep career with a school-record 212 wins and just 21 losses.
“Jake is just a tenacious wrestler who hates to lose and we love guys like that,” Brissette said. “He is tough to score on and should have a solid college career. It’s a great thing for our program whenever we can land an unbeaten state champion. He will compete for a starting spot at 149 pounds.”
That will be no easy task considering that junior Gage Pederson, Olivet’s returning starter, qualified for the Division 3 national tournament last year and there are six others at that weight on the roster.
“Cracking the starting lineup will be tough because of all the solid guys they have at that weight, but just competing for a starting role should get me some matches,” Weissend said. “That’s really what I am looking for my first year, testing myself in college matches. I hope to become an All-American and help the team to a national title.”