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Hall of Fame biography: Jake Varner, Distinguished Member

by National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Jake Varner mugJake Varner – Distinguished Member


2012 was a stellar year for Jake Varner. He won an Olympic gold medal at the London games; a gold at the Pan American Games; and a bronze medal at the Ivan Yarygin Memorial International.


He competed in three World Championships, winning a bronze medal in 2011 and finishing ninth in 2009.


He was the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials runner-up behind eventual Olympic champion Kyle Snyder.


At Iowa State University, Jake won national titles at 197 pounds in 2009 and 2010 after finishing second at 184 pounds in 2007 and 2008.


In his final three years of college, he lost only three matches, by a combined total of two points.


At Bakersfield High School, Jake was a two-time high school state champion and four-time state qualifier in one-class California, compiling a career record of 159-10 with 132 falls.


Named Outstanding Wrestler in 2005, he was the only wrestler in California history to pin all six opponents in the state tournament.


He was the California winner of the Hall of Fame’s Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award in 2005.


The summer after graduating high school, he qualified for the 2005 FILA Junior World Freestyle Championships, defeating Jake Herbert, who had finished fourth at the 2005 NCAA Division I Championships. However, he was unable to compete after suffering a broken leg in the team’s first on-site practice.


Jake was a two-time Midlands Tournament champion and a three-time NWCA All-Star Classic champion.


Jake was named Iowa State Male Athlete of the Year twice and was inducted into the Iowa State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2021.


A two-time champion at the Reno Tournament of Champions, he was the Outstanding Wrestler at the 2004 Brute Nationals.


He was an assistant wrestling coach at Penn State University from 2016 to 2021, when he was promoted to head the Penn State Olympic Regional Training Center.


For his exceptional and dominant wrestling career including an Olympic gold medal, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame honors Jake Varner as a Distinguished Member.
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