Ben Janike graduated from Waseca High School in 2002 and from Minnesota State University in 2007. Ben participated one year in track and four years in football and wrestling; earning two varsity letters in football and three in wrestling as a Bluejay.
Ben’s senior year was to lead into something special. He was a starting lineman for the Bluejay football team. The team was expected to win only a couple games; this same group of seniors did not win a game when they were sophomores. With hard work and determination, the Jays went on to win the South Central Conference and had an amazing season; winning their first six games and ending up 8-2 overall. The Bluejays were defeated in the section finals, just one win away from the state tournament. Ben was selected as homecoming king, and word has it that a pickup or float was reserved for the ‘Ben Janike fan club’.
Ben’s senior year is one that all wrestlers dream of. Wrestling at heavyweight, hard work and dedication paid off for him. He went through the regular season undefeated, winning the South Central Conference championship, en route. Ben went on to win the Section 2AA championship, earning a 2nd trip to the state tournaments. He was also a state tournament entrant as a sophomore. This time was the charm, he won all four matches (3 by falls) to win the state title at heavyweight. Ben’s perfect 36-0 season was a first ever undefeated season for a Bluejay record and with his pin over Jason Juliar of Mankato East, Ben Janike became the first ever Minnesota State Champion in wrestling for Waseca. Ben led the team in points scored (184) and pins with 23, a new school record. He was a captain and won the MVP award. Ben was all area wrestler of the year, all-conference, conference champ, section champ and state champ.
Janike’s championship almost never happened. As a sixth, seventh and eighth-grader, Ben never won a match, but he never thought of quitting. Things began to turn around for Ben after qualifying for state in his sophomore year. He missed qualifying as a junior, and vowed to get back to state his senior year and win it. Ben started lifting weights and running 5-10 miles a day. Ben lived 6-7 miles from school and would bike, run or skateboard there every morning to lift weights. He was dedicated and determined to be in better condition than his opponent. As a lighter heavyweight, he was always wrestling opponents much heavier than him. Fit and in shape, Ben was lighter, faster, as strong as or stronger than his opponents. When Ben won the state title, he was at 199 and his opponent was at 260. After Ben won state, he jumped the railing, still in his singlet and ran up through the crowd and hugged his mother crying. His dream came true. Ben did not realize it but the results of his dedication and hard work inspired a lot of younger wrestlers in the likes of the Foley brothers and more. This showed in the success of the wrestling program for years to come. Ben has given talks to youth groups since explaining that he wasn’t always a winner but with hard work, dedication and love for the sport you can be successful.
Janike received a scholarship to MSU-Mankato and got his degree in Human Performance/Sports Medicine. Ben wrestled five years at Mankato and was a two time National Division qualifier. Ben also coached two years at Waseca High School, one year under Blain Nelson and one year under Brad Lechner. Still “a weight- room addict”, Ben is the owner of Kato CrossFit in Mankato.
Ben and his wife Elizabeth have two boys, Jackson and Charlie and live in Mankato.