Joel O’Brien is a 1993 graduate of Waseca High School and a 1997 graduate of St. Thomas University.
In high school Joel earned seven letters, two in football, two in baseball and three in wrestling. He was a three sport captain in those sports his senior year.
The O’Brien name is synonymous with Waseca wrestling; Joel is one of seven brothers who wrestled for Waseca. He joins older brother Jason who was inducted to Waseca’s Hall of Fame last year.
Joel earned numerous awards during his high school wrestling career. He was selected to the Waseca County News All Area Wrestling team, Area Athlete of the Week, Area Wrestling Athlete of the Year and received two MVP Awards. As a junior, Joel was a South Central Champion, a Sub-Section Champion, and placed 5th at the state tournament.
His senior year, he was recognized by the Guillotine as an Academic All-State Wrestler, a member of the Guillotine’s “70” club, and a member of Bluejay 30-win club the last two years. Joel led his team in takedowns, near falls, fastest pin, and set a school record for most wins with 32. He had a 32-5 win-loss record and a career record of 84-14-2. He won the sub-section championship and placed second at the conference and section meets. Joel capped off his brilliant three year wrestling career with a second place medal at the Minnesota State Tournament.
He was nominated for the Minnesota/Wisconsin All Star Classic and was the third Bluejay wrestler to be named to the All State Team joining his brother Jason (1987) and Brad Lechner (1985).
Following graduation from Waseca High School, Joel wrestled and lettered four years at St. Thomas University where he had an outstanding career.
At St. Thomas, Joel was a three- time MIAC champion, winning titles as a sophomore, junior and senior. He was named MVP in his ‘93-‘94 season.
Joel qualified for the NCAA Division lll national tournament all four years at St. Thomas. He was a two-time NCAA National finalist, placing second his junior year. His senior year, Joel had a 34 match win streak halted with a 3-2 loss in the NCAA finals to place second. Joel ended his collegiate wrestling career with 123 wins and was also named as a Division lll All-American in his junior and senior year.
Joel coached for the St. Paul wrestling club for three years. He works for Fairway Dairy & Ingredients in St. Paul. Joel and his wife, Jennifer, live in St. Paul and have a three- year old daughter Lauren.