By Frank Rajkowski, SJU
COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. – Jacob Scherber grew up around wrestling.
His father Jason is a 1995 Saint John’s University graduate who qualified for the NCAA Division III national meet three times during his collegiate career. He then went on to serve as the head coach at Delano (Minn.) High School, as well as a coach at the youth level in nearby Buffalo.
“He’s always been my guide,” said Jacob Scherber, who followed in his father’s footsteps by enrolling at Saint John’s as a freshman in the fall of 2018.
“He helped instill in me a mentality of always working hard, and trying to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.
“Seeing everything he was able to accomplish has always been motivational for me. It’s given me something to shoot for.”
And, indeed, Scherber has managed to pile up some impressive achievements of his own.
He compiled a record of 144-39 at Buffalo High School, ranking him second all-time on the school’s career victories list. He qualified for the Class 3A state tournament three times, earning runner-up honors at 195 pounds as a senior.
He’s continued that success at Saint John’s, where last season he finished with a record of 22-18 – tying with senior Noah Becker for the team lead in wins.
“He out-works his opponents every match,” Johnnie head coach Kevin Schiltz said. “You won’t find a more dedicated or tough-nosed kid than he is. He’s a very self-directed individual in every area of his life – from wrestling to school to training and working out.
“He puts everything he has into whatever he’s doing.”
Though just a junior, Scherber is now one of his team’s most experienced wrestlers and is being called on as a team leader in a season filled with uncertainty as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
It was announced last week that the team (along with all other winter sports at CSB and SJU) would indeed finally begin competition. As things stand now, the Johnnies are scheduled to open the season with a dual meet against Augsburg at 3 p.m. on Jan. 30 at Sexton Arena.
It’s one of only three dual meets currently scheduled (Feb. 6 vs. Concordia and Feb. 11 at Augsburg), and it’s still not clear if enough teams nationally will decide to proceed in order to allow for Division III regional and national competition.
“It just feels good to have any competition to look forward to,” Scherber said.
“Everything has been up in the air (due to the pandemic) and it wasn’t clear if we’d have a season or not. We still don’t know exactly how the season is going to look. But all we can do is show up each day ready to compete.
“We have to be prepared for whatever comes next.”
Being prepared in something of a trademark for Scherber – both on and off the mat.
The biology major maintains a GPA of 3.96 and is on pace to graduate in May, meaning he would complete work on his degree in just three years.
“It helped that I came into Saint John’s with a number of college credits already,” said Scherber, who has not completely ruled out returning to SJU for another year of eligibility, but is also looking at taking a gap year and strengthening his résumé before attending graduate school with an eye toward becoming a physical therapist.
“Not all of the credits lined up with my major. But it did give me a pretty good head start. Then from the beginning, I decided I was going to take 18 credits each semester. So that higher workload became the norm. It’s just something I’ve gotten used to.”
In addition to his academic success, Scherber is a member of the Johnnie Brothers men’s spirituality group, and has served as a member of the Saint John’s Student Senate and Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
He is also planning a June wedding to fiancé Shelby Stoll, his high school sweetheart.
“I just try to focus on one thing at a time,” he said. “When it’s time for school, I’m focused on that. When it’s time for wrestling, I’m focused on that. In some ways, I really compartmentalize a lot of aspects in my life.
“But whatever I’m doing, I try to give it my best effort.”
Check out Johnnies Wrestling at gojohnnies.com.