Though the season for all NCAA athletes has been cut short, it hasn’t diminished the efforts of Three Lakes High School graduate Jared Zwettler who’s coming off one of the better freshman seasons in recent history at UW-La Crosse.

Coach Nathan Petesch, who sees Zwettler year-round as a member of the coaching staff for both the track and field squad and cross-country team, has welcomed Zwettler, saying his addition to the team has been a seamless fit.

“He is a leader, and an influence of genuine character,” Petesch said. “Jared brought an unusual amount of focus, maturity, and dedication with him as a freshman. At a time when others usually make mistakes, Jared instead used his freshman year to simply continue the good work he was doing as a high school senior at Three Lakes. He has clearly had some exceptionally good influences in his life to help shape his work ethic and personality.”

This spring, Zwettler has been one of the top competitors in the mile run for the Eagles. At the UW-Stout Open this past January, Zwettler posted a time of 4:26.28 which was just five seconds off the winning time and good enough for fifth place overall.

In his next invite at Mankato, he posted a season-best effort of 4:25.06 which was good for sixth place overall, helping his team to a second-place finish.

Petesch said what has made Zwettler a positive teammate and influence competitively as well is his internal drive.

“Jared wants to get the best out of himself and is intentional about that process,” he said. “He has been wonderful to work with, and gives me a ton of confidence in the future leadership of the team. I would take a whole team full of Zwettlers.”

Derek Stanley, who also coaches Zwettler as the head cross-country coach at UW-La Crosse, and also as an assistant on the track and field team, said the Three Lakes graduate has been a breath of fresh air for both the team and him.

“Jared has been the addition to the team that we were hoping for,” Stanley said. “As a recruit, we were excited about his potential and the positive attitude you simply cannot miss interacting with him. He has developed well during his time at UW-La Crosse and I attribute that development to his work ethic and positivity.”

Stanley said each freshman goes through the adaptation to the college setting whether it be new class schedule, new coach/teammates, dorm life, etc. But even with those challenges Zwettler has navigated them well and it has shaped him even stronger.

“The challenges can sometimes affect running performance, but this has not been the case with Jared,” he said. “I attribute that mostly to his positivity. He is always ready to give what he has for the team.”

Both on the track and during the cross-country season last fall, Stanley said he’s seen Zwettler’s running ability improve, mainly at the longer distances.

“To me that indicates his path of development is right where it should be,” Stanley said. “He dropped significant time from his personal best at the 3,000/3,200-meter distance, and also ran the fastest mile of his career during the indoor season.

“He was poised to continue that development before the season was cut short. Now we will shift his focus back to the cross-country season as he will be a key player on our team this fall.”