Aiming to leave his mark on North Dakota State wrestling, senior Hayden Zillmer is working hard to fulfill his duties as both a student and an athlete.
Coming off of a Big 12 Wrestler of the Week award earlier this month, the Crosby, Minn., native currently possesses a dual winning streak of 22 consecutive matches.
Ranked seventh nationally in the 184-weight class, Zillmer is a large contributor to the team’s success as not only a wrestler, but also a leader.
“His overall demeanor is what you look for in a kid,” Bison wrestling head coach Roger Kish said. “He’s just the definition of hard work and everything that goes into being successful. You can’t praise him enough.”
Following two recent matches on the road in which Zillmer recorded two pins, he recognized that he and the team as a whole have room to improve.
With a current record of 24-3, Zillmer said he realizes things get more difficult as the long, grueling season drags out.
“The hardest part is just the middle of the season having to grind it out,” Zillmer said.
With only five regular season matches remaining, winning is key.
If anyone has faith in Zillmer, it’s Kish.
“(Zillmer) is one of those guys who hates losing more than he likes winning,” Kish said. “When you put him on the mat, he’s going to do anything he has to do to win; not only because he likes winning, but because he hates losing.”
Though Zillmer is known throughout the wrestling community for his work on the mat, he is also deserving of credit for his hard work off the mat.
While Zillmer is pinning opponents, cutting weight and battling through practices, he also devotes time to studying. The health and physical education major has a 4.0 GPA.
“What makes him stand out is some success on the mat and that much more in the classroom as well,” Kish said about Zillmer’s studies.
Due to the time commitments that wrestling presents, Zillmer said he is grateful for the opportunities he has received as a student-athlete at NDSU.
“It’s given me the opportunity to go to college and compete without having to get a job,” he explained. “Hopefully, after school it will continue to give me plenty of opportunities with coaching.”
While successful so far, Zillmer said he’s focused on the future.
“Team-wise, hopefully we can win a few more duels,” he said. “Individually, hopefully I can win the conference and win a national title.”
And Zillmer should have no problem keeping up his winning ways if he sticks to his usual thought process.
“I think it’s more mental than anything,” Zillmer said. “Just preparing myself for each match and knowing that good things will come.”