College Wrestling: Zillmer prepped for another NCAA run
About the only thing that hasn't gone Hayden Zillmer's way is the weather. Zillmer, an avid outdoorsman, missed out on his traditional ice fishing excursions this holiday season because of the lack of ice. The North Dakota State University senior...
About the only thing that hasn't gone Hayden Zillmer's way is the weather.
Zillmer, an avid outdoorsman, missed out on his traditional ice fishing excursions this holiday season because of the lack of ice. The North Dakota State University senior took it out on his wrestling opponents as the NCAA's 12th-ranked 184-pounder competed in the Midlands Championships at Evanston, Ill., Tuesday and Wednesday.
Who: Wrestler at North Dakota State University
Weight: 184 pounds
High school: Crosby-Ironton
2015-16 record: 15-2
Ranked: 12th by Intermatwrestle.com, 9th by openmat.com, 6th by flowrestling.org
Video of Zillmer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kF24WQoLhFI
Zillmer fell to the 7th-ranked Sammy Brooks of Iowa in the semifinals. He beat Purdue's Tanner Lynde 20-5 and Buffalo's Joe Ariola 6-2 Tuesday before the Brooks' match.
He battled Andrew Romanchik of Ohio University Wednesday in the consolation bracket.
Zillmer rattled off a 15-2 record in the first part of the season. He's 3-0 in duals for the Bison.
Zillmer's two losses have been by a combined three points. He fell to Willie Miklus of Missouri 3-2 at the 34th-annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Collegiate Wrestling Invite Dec. 4. His second loss came at the same tournament. The senior fell to Mathew Miller of Navy 11-9.
"I dropped a close one and I probably should have been a little more aggressive in the match," said Zillmer. "Then I dropped that one in the wrestlebacks, which put me into the seventh-place match. I got caught on my back for the whole first period and I was down like seven points. I wrestled back and just couldn't get the job done. I ran out of time. Normally, I don't give up six points there and those six points would have given me the match."
Zillmer was named the Western Wrestling Conference Wrestler of the Year after finishing the season with a sixth-place finish in the NCAA Wrestling Championships at 184 pounds. The finish earned the then junior All-American honors.
The former three-time Minnesota State High School League state champion battled back through wrestlebacks after getting upset in the first round. Zillmer rattled off five straight wins in wrestlebacks to get into the medal round.
"I was expecting big things last year and I'm expecting bigger things this year," Zillmer said. "But I'm just taking it one match at a time. I have to win all those little positions. I can't give up a six-point move and put myself in a bad spot. I feel like the expectations are high for me to go out there and get the job done.
"I'm just staying quick, strong and technically and mentally ready. We're going to change things up in the next 10 weeks with our training. Ultimately, I'll want to win a national title."
Zillmer finished his 2014-15 campaign with a 36-7 record and a perfect 13-0 mark in duals. He was a three-time WWC Wrestler of the Week and won his second straight NCAA West Regional/WWC Championship title despite moving from 174 to 184. He also took third at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational with a win over the then top-ranked wrestler in the nation and eventual national champion Gabe Dean of Cornell. He also placed fourth at the Midlands Championships and finished the year with eight falls, four technical falls and three major decisions.
One change for Zillmer and the Bison this year has been their inclusion into the Big 12 Conference. NDSU will compete in the conference championships March 5-6 in Kansas City, Mo.
"Next year we'll dual meet all those teams, but this year we'll just wrestle Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and West Virginia in the conference tournament," Zillmer said. "I think it will be best for the team. With those four teams, we'll be able to qualify more spots in the NCAA tournament. It works out for NDSU as a whole. Hopefully we'll qualify more guys into the NCAA tournament."
Life after college is setting up well for Zillmer. As always the former Crosby-Ironton Ranger has set lofty goals.
"My main goal is the 2020 Olympics," Zillmer. "I'm going to try and make the world teams throughout then until 2020 and see where I'm at then. Just keep training and probably wrestle Greco-Roman."
Along with training, Zillmer hopes to finish his masters in health education. That's fitting for a young man who never stops working or training. He earned a 4.0 grade-point average during the fall semester with one semester left until he graduates.
"I think NDSU has been a great fit for me," Zillmer said. "I like how close it is to home. I like how Fargo is a big town, but it still has that small-town feel. I feel like I really fit in with the guys and the coaching staff. It's been great. I don't think I would change my decision if I had to do it all again."
The Bison wrestling team will get another break in mid-January. Hopefully then Zillmer will get another crack at the walleye to help make his senior year another in a long line of successes.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or email@example.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop .