By JEREMY HINES
Jeb Prechtel was the first Jasper wrestler to call the school’s new coach, Alex Lee last season. He wanted to see who would be teaching him for the next few years.
So, Prechtel gave Lee a call and asked if they could practice together.
“I kind of wanted to see if I could beat up on him,” Prechtel joked.
The coach and the student wrestled that first day and Lee scored a few takedowns on the young grappler. Prechtel wanted to learn how he got those takedowns and how he could stop them in the future.
“He called me that night and was asking what he was doing wrong and what he needed to do better,” Lee said. “He expects to beat everyone. He doesn’t care if you’re the coach or Jordan Burroughs. He expects to win. I knew right then this was a special wrestler. It bothered him that he didn’t know some things and he stayed up trying to figure them out. Once you tell him, you don’t have to tell him again. He’s is a very good learner.
Prechtel is currently ranked No. 3 in the state at 160 pounds. The senior is undefeated at 30-0. And, almost shockingly, he is coming off of his very first sectional championship last week.
Prechtel is almost the poster child for bad tournament luck throughout his career.
In his freshman season he ran into a very talented Gavinn Alstott in the Southridge sectional final. He fell to Alstott and then, for the next two seasons, he lost to eventual state champion J Conway in the sectional finals.
“Winning a sectional actually felt really good,” Prechtel said. “Having J Conway in sectional the last two years has really be a learning experience for me. I have learned how to take losses early in the post season. Now I’m wrestling with a lot more confidence.”
Prechtel has one goal this year – a state title.
“Jeb is determined,” Lee said. “He works tirelessly. I’m fully confident that he will reach his goal. I really expect to see him wrestling under the lights.”
According to Lee, Prechtel is a student of the sport. He soaks up as much wrestling knowledge as he possibly can and he’s a relentless worker.
Despite his work ethic and hunger for wrestling knowledge, Prechtel had a weakness he didn’t know how to overcome. He almost feared close matches.
“I’ve dealt with a lot of mental battles in my wrestling career,” Prechtel said. “I lost in semistate one year by one point. I was always scared of one-point matches. That was something I’ve tried very hard to overcome. It was a mental block with me.”
So Prechtel talked with his coaches in high school and his coaches at Maurer Coughlin Wrestling Club. He desperately sought answers to how he could overcome his mental block with those one-point matches.
“I told them, I just don’t know how to fix this,” Prechtel said. “I’ve lost my two most important matches of my career by a point. I don’t know how to overcome this.
“So they told me that I’m going to have one point matches. They said I have to go out there and just know that I trained harder than the other guy and I worked harder than he did. I have to have the confidence in those close matches that I am the better wrestler and I am going to win.”
So, this year he’s had that mindset in every match he’s wrestled. He said he treats every match as if it’s the state championship.
“Every match I’m zero and zero and I’m wrestling for a championship,” he said. “This year I have a totally different mindset. It started at the end of the offseason. I’m more confident. In my mind, I know I outwork anyone. I can push myself further than I have before.”
Lee knows that the sky is the limit for Prechtel because of the amount of work he is willing to put in.
“He’s been a captain of this team for three years,” Lee said. “He’s an awesome leader. He leads verbally. He leads by example. He works harder than anyone I have ever coached.”
When he’s not wrestling, Prechtel enjoys hunting, fishing and snow skiing. He plans to wrestle in college and study business management, but he is currently undecided on where he will go.