100 WINS ISN’T ENOUGH

THOMAS ELNESS

tkelness12@ole.augie.edu

 

Not many coaches can boast of the many wins and success the way Jason Reitmeier can.  In his tenth year as head wrestling coach at Augustana, Reitmeier has tallied up over 100 wins, but you won’t hear it from him.

“None of us really knew he was close to 100 wins until over break [when] our assistant coach said something,” senior Nate Herda said.

“I think that is a testament to his desire for us to become the best people we can be.  His coaching brings out the best in us and the wins pile up,” Herda said.

Reitmeier hit the 100-win mark against Minot State in the final match at the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals in Springfield, Ill. on Jan. 12. Since then, Augustana has notched two more wins over Southwest Minnesota State University (19-18) and Augsburg (23-13).

102 wins and counting gives Reitmeier the second most wins in Augustana history, behind Paul Kendle.  However, Reitmeier has the best winning percentage in the program’s 50-year history at .675 percent.

“I’m honored to have been a part in quite a bit of those wins these last four years,” Herda said.

Reitmeier’s teams have recorded seven top-ten finishes at the NCAA Division II Championships in his first nine seasons.  He has produced 42 All-Americans and earned two national championship runner-up medals.

A ’97 Augustana alumnus and a national champion himself, Reitmeier credits the program’s success to his athletes.

“The first thing is getting the right student-athletes and we’ve done a fair job of that… These guys work extremely hard,” Reitmeier said. “Wrestlers are a different breed; they’re extremists.  They take everything to the next level not only on the mat, but also in the classroom.  They know what they need to do.”

The intensity of collegiate wrestling is a constant balancing act, especially running a winning program.

“It’s a lot of time,” Reitmeier said. “We have early morning workouts, we have some downtime in the afternoon before practice, and the recruiting, weekends… lots of weekends… lot of nights.  That’s all athletics.  Coaches are all like that. They have to learn when they can find when they can spend time with their family and know the priorities.”

Reitmeier doesn’t talk about his success without dishing out credit to people around him.  He credits Kraig Presler, the preceding coach who took Reitmeier under his wing.  Presler began coaching in the ’89-’90 season before handing over the reins for the ’03-’04 season.

“I owe a ton to Kraig.  He’s been a mentor to me not only wrestling wise, but coaching wise.  He’s a person who has taught me things that are a little more important than wrestling,” Reitmeier said.

“Wrestling is a high priority, but there are things that are more important to me.”

Even after 102 wins, Reitmeier doesn’t brag about his coaching. No one knows how many more wins Reitmeier will rack up at Augustana.

Fans will have to count for themselves, though, because he’ll be the last to tell you.