NDSU All American Hayden Zillmer was the last man into the 97 KG Freestyle World Team Trials bracket. In fact, he only entered the last chance Freestyle qualifier after his Greco Roman World Team goal came up just short. After finishing second at the Greco World Team Trials in Las Vegas and with only a few weeks of Freestyle practice under his belt, Zillmer won the last chance Freestyle qualifier in Rochester last May and made the trek to Lincoln, NE. Now, after a fantastic Freestyle trials third place run in which his only loss came to mini tournament champion Kyven Gadsen, Zillmer is the only wrestler in the United States that can boast a spot on both the Greco Roman and Freestyle National Teams. Zillmer is the first United States wrestler to make both teams (by finishing in the top three of both World Team Trials) since Sam Hazewinkel did so in 2014.
Finishing in the top three at the trials is important because of the perks that being on the national team offers. A training stipend, international trips and training camps paid for by USA Wrestling, and paid health insurance are all perks offered members of each National Team. Making both teams means there will be loads of opportunities for Zillmer to get better at little to no cost over the course of the next year.
After winning a first round bout by technical fall over Nikko Reyes of the Valley Regional Training Center, Zillmer took his lone loss 12-1 to Kyven Gadson of the Sunkist Kids. From there, Zillmer ran together five consolation wins in a row, including tight victories over Burak brothers Nathan and Micah, to finish third in the country.
For Zillmer, making the Freestyle National Team likely won’t change the Greco Roman focus he has had since making his first national team right out of college in 2016.
“I haven’t really thought about (the future) yet, but I will most likely continue along the Greco path,” Zillmer stated Sunday after the tournament.