IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Jesse Thielke has said he wants to win three Olympic gold medals before he turns 40 years old.
He took a huge step in that direction Saturday night.
The University of Wisconsin athlete, who took a year off following his sophomore season to focus on making Team USA, twice defeated Ildar Hafisov to win the 59 kilogram title at the Greco-Roman U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trails.
Thielke won 10-0 and 8-3.
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Since the U.S. hasn’t qualified for an Olympic spot in the weight class, he’ll have to place high enough in upcoming last-chance events in either Mongolia or Turkey to earn a trip to Rio de Janeiro.
Two-time Olympian Spenser Mango called it a career after losing to Thielke 8-0 in the semifinals.
Mango, ranked second in his class, took off his shoes and placed them on the mat, the universal symbol for retirement in the sport.
Mango had represented the U.S. in every world and Olympic tournament since 2008.