FARGO, N.D.–It’s been three years since North Dakota State University All-American wrestler Hayden Zillmer had tried his hand at Greco-Roman.
Starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 9, in University of Iowa’s Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Zillmer is looking to take things to the next level at the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team Trials.
Zillmer, a 6-foot, 187-pounder from Crosby, Minn. (Crosby-Ironton H.S.), experienced success last weekend at the Last Chance Qualifier in the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He was excited to get back on the mat following the NCAA Wrestling Championships in New York City on March 17-19.
“I was very excited to get back on the mat,” said Zillmer, who was one of 13 wrestlers to qualify in the Greco-Roman 187 pound weight class. “The Last Chance Qualifier was the start of the next step in my wrestling career.”
“I thought I wrestled well,” he said. I know I have a lot of work to do to be where I want to be in the sport.”
Greco-Roman was contested at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and included in every edition of the Summer Olympics held since 1908. This style of wrestling forbids holds below the waist. This restriction results in an emphasis on throws because a wrestler cannot use trips to take an opponent to the ground, or avoid throws by hooking or grabbing the opponent’s legs.
“First contact and staying in good position,” said Zillmer has been his focus in preparing for the weekend during workouts at North Dakota State.
The Minnesota Storm’s Jordan Holm and Jacob Clark, along with Jon Anderson of U.S. Army WCAP are considered the favorites in the 187-pound Greco-Roman weight class by FloWrestling. Zillmer will go up against competition with Olympic and World Team experience.
“My expectations are to win the trials,” said Zillmer. “To do this I need to win every position of every match. I need to focus on capitalizing on these positions as well.”
Zillmer shares the same expectations as former NDSU teammates Justin LaValle (2013-14), who will compete in the 130-pound Greco-Roman division on Saturday, and Kallen Kleinschmidt (2011-13), who qualified in the freestyle 213-pound weight class. Kleinschmidt will wrestle on Sunday.
“It’s awesome to have former teammates competing at this tournament. I think this is good for me, individually, great for NDSU wrestling. Once a Bison, always a Bison,” he said.
The best advice Zillmer received this week.
“Wrestle to the best of your ability and good things will happen.”