Mat Chat with World Trials Challenge Tournament Champion Hayden Zillmer

By Chad Otterness

Hayden Zillmer, a native of Crosby, Minnesota, has qualified to wrestle in the best 2 out of 3 series (Final X – World Team WrestlingTrials) with Olympic Bronze Medalist J’den Cox at 92 KG (202.4 LBS). Hayden recently won the World Trials Challenge Tournament in Rochester, Minnesota, on May 19-20th, 2018. The Final World Trials event will be held in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on June 23, 2018. The winner will qualify for the USA Wrestling World Team, which competes in Budapest, Hungary, from October 20-28th, 2018.

What particular training have you been working on leading up to the World Team Trials Freestyle Tournament?

Training has changed up a little bit. Prior to world team trials I was training both Greco and freestyle. With such a quick turn around from the US Open I focused in on freestyle only.

How different were your opponents as you wrestled through the tournament? Any specific challenges that made you adapt in the finals vs. Deron Winn?

Throughout the tournament I knew I had to take one match at a time. I didn’t know how many opponents would be in my bracket. Leading into the finals I knew Deron Winn was a lot shorter than me and explosive. I knew I couldn’t get caught with my feet in one spot.

How will you plan your training as you prepare to compete against J’den Cox, Olympic Bronze Medalist? Any particular challenges J’den brings to the match?

I feel the preparation won’t change much. The only thing is you know going into the final X you only have one guy to compete against. J’den is very quick and explosive, so I need to be prepared for that.

How has your international training and competition helped you to improve over the past year?

I feel just having the mat time with Foreigners is a big help. They just feel a little different when you wrestle/train against them. I think experiencing that feel definitely helps you develop as a wrestler.

Are you looking to continue to train for both Greco-Roman and freestyle? Are you feeling more comfortable with one style over another as far as competing?

I’m going to continue to train both Greco-Roman and Freestyle. The scheduling for final x and Greco world team trials are scheduled a day apart halfway across the country.

Any short or long-term goals you have with Olympic style wrestling?

My goals are to make both world teams (short-term) and my long term is to win a gold medal! I’m very excited for the opportunities that are presented to me.

Have you thought about coaching at any levels in the near future? MN Storm, high school, college, or club wrestling?

Not at this point. I’ve got my goals set on competing and training! If something were to present itself that allowed me to train, compete and coach, that might be an option.

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