Hayden Zillmer

Year: Junior

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College: North Dakota State University

High School: Crosby-Ironton

Sport: Wrestling

Weight class: 184 pounds

Season record: 18-2

Rank: 10th

No. 10. Or is it No. 9?

Could be No. 7, but most likely 10.

Then there is No. 6, too.

That's what Hayden Zillmer is ranked - all five of those. Confused? Don't worry about it. Zillmer isn't.

The 184-pound wrestler for the North Dakota State University Bison is ranked No. 10 by InterMat.com. He is ranked No. 9 by WIN Wrestling Magazine. Amateur Wrestling has him ranked No. 7. TheOpenMat.com likes him at No. 6 and Asics/Flo Rankings landed him in the No. 10 spot.

"Yeah, there are a lot of rankings," said Zillmer. "I might look at them a little bit at the end of the year to see where I placed, but right now they aren't that big of a deal. Personally, I don't look at them, but when I do look at them and I see guys I've wrestled on the top I think I should be up there, too."

Zillmer is a two-time winner of the Western Wrestling Conference Wrestler of the Week honor. He captured his first award Nov. 18 and was honored again Dec. 8. The Crosby-Ironton High School graduate and three-time Minnesota State High School League state champion has bigger honors on his mind.

"The goal is the podium this year and All-American for sure," Zillmer said. "Ultimately it's to win the NCAA. I want to be on top. I see myself toward the top of it all. I see myself beating a lot of the top guys in the NCAA tournament last year. It's all about peaking at the right time."

Last season, Zillmer won the 174-pound NCAA West Regional championship to qualify for the NCAA championships. He boasted a 27-8 overall record helping him land first-team All-WWC performer honors. He also was named to the WWC Coaches' Honor Roll.

"Right now I feel like I'm wrestling pretty good," said Zillmer. "I need to be able to wrestle for seven minutes hard. I need to go out there and expect to win the match. Every time I attack or make something happen I need to expect to score."

Zillmer said he and the rest of the Bison are working on drills that focus on stamina as well as technique. He expects to start fine-tuning his skill set after the Midlands Championships finished Dec. 30.

Zillmer placed fourth at 184 pounds in the event for NDSU's top finish. During Day Two of the event, Zillmer lost to second-ranked Lorenzo Thomas of Penn before eliminating 20th-ranked Nikko Reyes of Illinois. In the third-place match Zillmer lost to eighth-ranked Sam Brooks of Iowa 3-1.

Zillmer finished the 51-team tournament 3-2 to improve his season record to 21-4 overall. It was Zillmer's third time competing in the 52nd annual event. He owns a 14-6 record in those three trips.

"Midlands, I wrestled pretty good," said Zillmer. "I made a few mistakes, but we were just coming off Christmas break. Now is the time where we get ready to peak."

The Bison host five more duals and travel to three more. NDSU will also host the NWCA National Duals Feb. 15 and the NCAA West Regionals March 7.

"I'm very happy with my decision to come to NDSU," said Zillmer. "NDSU is a good school. I really like Fargo. It's also nice when a guy from a smaller school like NDSU can beat up on guys from some bigger-name schools."

Zillmer hopes to do just that March 19-21. Those are the dates of the NCAA Championships in St. Louis.

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.