Golden Moment

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LAS graduate Jake Varner earns gold at London Olympics

Varner controls his opponent in the semifinals

Former Iowa State Cyclone wrestler and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences alumnus Jake Varner is an Olympic gold medalist.

In London, he won the 2012 gold medal in men’s freestyle wrestling at 96 kg./211.5 pounds on Aug. 12 with a 1-0, 1-0 win over Ukraine’s Valerii Andiitsev.

Varner follows his 2011 World bronze-medal finish with his first Olympic medal. He is the sixth Iowa State wrestler to earn an Olympic gold medal. A native of Bakersfield, Calif., Varner graduated in 2009 with an interdisciplinary studies major in criminal justice.

"Every time I step on the mat I expect to win," Varner told Craig Sesker of USA Wrestling after the gold medal match. "This is exciting. I came in here with a goal of winning a gold medal, and I did my job for our team. I’m just enjoying the moment right now."

Varner won two NCAA wrestling titles and was a four-time NCAA Division I All-America during his Cyclone career.

"Jake was a pleasure to work with," said Mark Hagley, academic adviser for sociology and criminal justice and Varner’s former adviser in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "He was always very polite and respectful during our interactions."

Hagley added that Varner did a good job balancing academics and athletics. "I’m always impressed any time a student athlete graduates just because of their crazy schedules and the incredible time constraints they have for studying. I will say that I’m very happy for him."