USA Wrestling Brian Keck, 48, Nati...

Brian Keck, 48, National Team athlete, coach and wrestling event organizer, passed away in Mexico

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Nov. 26, 2019, 12:54 p.m. (ET)

Event director Brian Keck awards the Outstanding Wrestler Award from the 2016 USA Wrestling Preseason Nationals to Real Woods of Illinois. Photo courtesy of Brian Keck.

USA Wrestling has received the sad news that Brian Keck, 48, of San Diego, Calif., a U.S. National Team athlete and the event director of the USA Wrestling Preseason Nationals, passed away while in Mexico.

“The news last night of Brian Keck’s untimely passing sends a shock wave through our community. Brian was an incredible ambassador for USA Wrestling and the entire sport. His tireless contributions, first as a fierce athlete and later as a top administrator, will be sorely missed. Known by many as just the ‘Kecker,’ his kind spirit, quick wit and passionate love for our sport will leave a lasting legacy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Keck family and the thousands of young wrestlers that he impacted,” said USA Wrestling Executive Director Rich Bender.

A native of Parma, Ohio, he was an Ohio state champion for Padua Franciscan High School. Keck won a Junior College national title for Cuyuhoga CC and went on to Bloomsburg, where he was a two-time NCAA qualifier for the Huskies. Keck competed for a decade as a Senior-level athlete in both Greco-Roman and freestyle, spending many years as a U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athlete.

Keck was just one of two athletes to qualify for the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in both freestyle and Greco-Roman. He compete in the Olympic Trials in 1996, 2000 and 2004. He qualified for the U.S. Freestyle National Team in 2003-04, when he placed third in the 2003 Freestyle World Team Trials. Keck placed nine times at the U.S. Open, with placements in both men’s freestyle and Greco-Roman.

Internationally, Keck was a 2003 Pan American Championships champion in men’s freestyle, and added a bronze medal at the 2004 Pan American Championships. He also won international medals in Iran, Finland, Sweden and the United States.

He has served as an assistant coach for Cleveland State, and the wrestling coach for Xtreme Couture, an MMA gym owned by wrestling and MMA legend Randy Couture. He was also with Alliance MMA, where he trained MMA fighters.

One of Brian Keck’s biggest contributions to wrestling was as an event organizer. He has served more than a decade as the event director of the USA Wrestling Preseason Nationals, a major early season national folkstyle wrestling event for athletes of all ages. The USA Wrestling Preseason Nationals was initially held in Cedar Falls, Iowa, then has moved to Des Moines, Iowa. This event has grown over the years in size and prestige. Keck also directed a number of other wrestling competitions.

One of the wrestling competitions Keck has directed, the Turkey Nationals in Des Moines, Iowa, will go on as planned this weekend on December 1. Kayla Spurley will serve as the event director. The event website is

Tributes to Keck are appearing on social media around the United States. His alma mater Bloomsburg’s wrestling Twitter site posted, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Keck family as we mourn with the loss of Brian Keck. Brian was a 2x NCAA Qualifier for the Huskies and a 1995 graduate of Bloomsburg University. Brian's great personality and contributions in the wrestling community will be greatly missed.”

USA Wrestling does not have an additional information about the details of Brian Keck’s passing, nor information on memorial services.

A Go-Fund-Me site has been created, to assist his brother James Keck in returning Brian to the United States from Mexico for his arrangements.