ST. LOUIS, Mo.—North Dakota State University 184-pounder Hayden Zillmer placed sixth and 174 Kurtis Julson finished eighth as each earned All-American honors during session five of the 2015 NCAA Wrestling Championships on Saturday, March 21, before 18,797 spectators at the Scottrade Center. It is the first time in wrestling program history NDSU has had two Division I All-Americans in the same year.
Julson and Zillmer join an elite NDSU Division I All-American group that includes Bill Demaray (1977, 7th 177 pounds), Lee Petersen (1973, 4th 142; 1974, 7th 142), Brad Rheingans (1975, 4th 190), Mike Langlais (1984, 6th 150), Pat Johannes (1988, 7th 177), Trent Sprenkle (2013, 5th 125) and Steven Monk (2014, 3rd 165).
Leading into tonight’s championship matches, North Dakota State with 19.5 points is No. 23 in the team standings. Ohio State is first with 94 points, Iowa second at 84 and Edinboro third with 75.5 points.
“It’s impressive. We wanted to finish on a higher note this afternoon, but it’s a long tournament. Kurtis (Julson) and Hayden (Zillmer) competed hard and competed well. We’re extremely proud of these young men. They have nothing to hang their heads about, that’s for sure,” said NDSU head coach Roger Kish.
“It’s fun. We receive a lot of support from our fan base, our community… our administration has been fantastic. It’s been an all-around great thing for our program, watching it grow and develop. With a man like Bucky Maughan, who established the foundation of the program, allowing us to come in and build on it has been a phenomenal thing.”
Zillmer, a junior from Crosby, Minn. (Crosby-Ironton H.S.), dropped a 4-2 decision to Edinboro University’s No. 13-seeded Victor Avery in his first match Saturday. After a scoreless first period, Zillmer picked up an escape 11-seconds into the second and 1-0 lead for the only scoring.
Avery gained an escape and then recorded a takedown at the 1:33 mark of the third period. Zillmer couldn’t break free until the Edinboro wrestler had built 1:20 of riding time.
Zillmer once again faced Ohio State’s Kenny Courts, ironically his first round foe. The wrestlers were scoreless after the first period. Courts recorded his first of two takedowns midway in the second period for a 2-1 lead. Zillmer escaped to tie the match at 2-2.
Both were in the up position in third. Courts came up with his second takedown with 32-seconds left and kept Zillmer at bay for the win.
“We didn’t get to where we wanted (with Hayden). We have a lot of things we need to work on. He knows there is a lot of detail in his wrestling we have to fix and things that can be improved on in big ways. If we do that, I’m confident we’re going to be able to come back here a year from now and really do some great things,” said Kish.
Zillmer finishes the season with a 38-6 record. He went 5-3 at the 2015 NCAA Championships and improved to 5-5 in two appearances.
“Kurtis (Julson) is an example of a young man who buys into the system, works hard every single day. Hard work pays off and that’s what he has shown these guys. He’s definitely going to leave his mark on NDSU wrestling,” said Kish.
Julson, a senior from Inver Grove Heights, Minn. (Simley H.S.), lost 3-2 in the seventh place match to Virignia Tech’s Zach Epperly in their second meeting of the tournament.
Following a scoreless first period, Julson picked up an escape and 1-0 lead after two. Epperly scored an escape 14-seconds into the third, and 10-seconds later grabbed a takedown and 3-1 lead. Julson did get loose, but Epperly fought off three scoring attempts by the Bison senior.
Julson finished the season with a 23-12 overall record. He went 4-3 at the 2015 NCAA Championships and improved to 6-5 in a pair of national appearances.
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