USA Wrestling Self Proclaimed nerd...

Self Proclaimed nerd, Jesse Thielke, prepares for Greco-Roman Olympic run

By Joe Mehling, USA Wrestling | Jan. 14, 2016, 3:39 p.m. (ET)

Jesse Thielke pummels with Spenser Mango in the finals of the 2015 U.S. Open. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors

Meet Wisconsin native Jesse Thielke, a self-proclaimed nerd that plays Pokémon on his Game Boy, loves old school anime cartoons and beat-boxes along with rap and hip-hop music. He also happens to be one the most promising stars of U.S. Greco-Roman program entering the 2016 season.

“It’s just who I am. I am super proud of it,” said Thielke. “I am a total nerd but I have been pretty deadly when it comes to hand-to-hand combat. Don’t underestimate me.”

The 23-year-old Thielke has his eyes set on the 2016 Olympic Team and has been a fixture at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs as he prepares for the Olympic trials in April. Wrestling Greco at 59kg, he’s aware the challenges ahead of him are steep but knows he has been preparing the right way.

“The OTC has been my home every summer since I was 14 years old,” Thielke said. “I finished up high school out here, I took my AP classes out here and I spent the entire 2012 Olympic year out here when I was 18. I love this place. It has changed a little bit but so have I. I like being here with my coaches who care about me. The altitude makes an incredible difference when we go and compete. I don’t even think about getting tired in my matches. Being able to take that out of consideration gives me a mental edge. That is the only time I feel I can be beaten, when I am too tired and start beating myself. But now that isn’t an issue, I am ready to go find success.”

Relics of success can be found all over the OTC, including the wrestling room, where trophies and pictures of past Olympic champions hang on the wall overlooking the practice mats. Thielke is very aware of the company that he is in every time he steps into that room.

“It’s exciting coming in everyday and seeing this amazing facility and looking at that wall,” Thielke said. “Everyone here better be picturing themselves on that wall when they walk in here or I don’t want any part of them. That’s what we are building this program around.”

His excitement and high energy can not only be seen by his teammates but quite often heard as Thielke jams out with his gold headphones, sometimes even spitting his own beat before taking the mat.

“I love rap and hip-hop music,” Thielke said. “I listen to it before matches and beat-boxing is something that I kind of carried over from that. It’s just a fun hobby. Mix that with my dancing and it’s a deadly combination. There are some videos out there of me breaking it down before a match. Some people think it’s silly but if I am too nervous and tight before a match I perform terribly. I need to be loose and having fun. Otherwise there is no point. It calms my nerves and helps me get in my zone. They better watch out if I am feeling good.”

National Greco-Roman coach Matt Lindland has been working with Thielke since 2013 when he made the U.S. World Team. Lindland knows the potential is there and credits Thielke’s positive attitude and energy along with his technical prowess for his success.

“Jesse is a nutty kid,” Lindland said. “He’s a riot. He has high energy, has a great attitude and he is a hell-of-a fighter. On the mat he is very technical, very smooth. He has incredibly high potential, and could not only be on our team, but be a medalist in Rio. He is aggressive, he likes to attack and create his own openings. He doesn’t wait for the guy to make a mistake; he is the one applying the pressure and creating opportunities for him to score. He is very explosive, so when he does score, he scores violently, he puts guys on their backs. I love to watch Jesse. Technically, he is one of the smoothest athletes here and is seamless in his transitions.”

The word “smooth” has always been a common term used to describe the Thielke name. Jesse’s parents were both All-American gymnasts during their college careers and Thielke credits their work ethic to his success.

“Their routines were just repetitions, repetitions, repetitions and body control until they could do it without thinking about it,” Thielke said. “I am the most dangerous when I can get into that flow where everything is seamless and just silky smooth. @theilke-smooth is my twitter handle for a reason.”

“Jesse is a great athlete,” Lindland said. “He is strong, explosive and fluid, I think he is a great athlete. I don’t think that’s all that makes him good. There are a lot of great athletes out there that aren’t high level wrestlers. He is an aggressive fighter as well. He wants to win.”

Winning is all Thielke thinks about and he is ready to win now. After bouncing back-and-forth between Greco and college wrestling in 2015, he has made the decision to wrestle Greco full-time and go all in on a style that he enjoys more than anything.

“I am very confident in my abilities,” Thielke said. “I know I am and can continue to be one of the best in the world at what I do. For a long time I didn’t believe that, which is silly, but that just comes with growing up and becoming the man I am today. I love to wrestle Greco, it is my favorite thing in the entire world. It is so much fun and I am getting quite good at it. I’m excited to see where this goes.”

“He competed at the World Championships in 2013 but didn’t make the team last year because he was wrestling folkstyle,” Lindland said. “He knows where his strengths are now and that comes with maturity. He knows he can’t do both. He can’t be part time Greco and part time folkstyle. He is all-in now. He is making his own decisions as a man. Earlier, he was listening to that guy and this guy and all these voices telling him what he should do. He got a lot conflicting advice but now he is doing what he wants to do. He is doing what he knows he should be doing.”

Leading up to the trials in April, both Lindland and Thielke know that there is plenty of work to be done and that maturity and discipline are going to play a huge part in his success on the mat.

“Every day the coaches are preaching that when it comes to your diet and training, the choices we make on and off the mat, everything must be professional,” Thielke said. “They have been talking about it since day one when we got here and it has clicked. I have to be disciplined because when I’m not, that’s when I lose to guys. We went and trained hard for a month and something clicked. I am in a good place.”

Totally focused with his sight set on Rio, Thielke is training harder and is more driven than ever to establish himself on the worlds biggest stage this summer.

“I worry about the best of the best, the guys who medal consistently every year,” Thielke said. “Those are the guys I want to beat. Those are the guys I want hit the nastiest duck under on in the Olympic finals. That’s all I think about.”

Whether it is his seamless transitions and “thielke smooth” athleticism on the mat or his nerdy, exciting positive attitude off the mat, Coach Lindland knows the future is bright for Thielke and USA Wrestling.

“There is nothing wrong with nerds,” Lindland said.