Hayden Zillmer has a simple philosophy: Just wrestle.
It's how the Crosby-Ironton Ranger deals with being a defending state champion and No. 1 ranked 112-pounder in Class 1A.
Although he's wrestling up at 119, Zillmer said he'll probably drop down to 112 come tournament time, if not before.
It was at the 119-pound weight class that Zillmer captured his third straight Big Bear tournament Dec. 19.
The junior pinned Roseau's Jarek Ludwick in 45 seconds to open the tournament. He scored a technical fall against Alex Johnson of Fergus Falls, pinned Crookston's Wyett Hanson in 18 seconds and pinned United North Central's Jake Malone in 3:13 to reach the finals.
There he faced a familiar foe in Hibbing's Mike Fuenfinger.
"We wrestled all summer together and practiced all summer together," said Zillmer. "I just knew I had to keep my hands low against him."
Zillmer scored a 2-1 decision to remain unbeaten this season.
Despite being the defending 103-pound state champion, Zillmer hasn't rested since the high school season ended last March.
"His biggest strength is his work ethic," said Rangers head coach Champ Hesch. "He's crazy. He didn't do much different as far as training this summer. He wrestled a lot of national events. The big event in Fargo he didn't place in and I think that might have been good. It just gave him more drive. It made him work that much harder.
"He's a crazy kid to be around. You have to stop him from training because he overdoes it. I have to shut him down sometimes."
Zillmer said he had a good summer, but wasn't as successful as in years past. He was sick entering the Fargo Nationals but that hasn't effected him. He still takes the same approach to each match.
"I just wrestle and have fun," he said. "That's my goal this year. Wrestle, have fun and win as many tournaments as I can."
Weight: 119 pounds
Key stat: Won the Big Bear tournament at Cass Lake-Bena
Despite having one year of high school eligibility remaining, Zillmer has amassed a wealth of experience, so much so that Hesch had to change the way he coaches Zillmer during a match.
"He doesn't say much when he's coaching me," said Zillmer. "He just hangs back. He always tells me all the coaching is done in the practice room, not on the mat.
"This year I'm just going out and scoring as many points as I can in the first and second periods. Then I look at the score and see what I have to do to win in the third."
Not many of Zillmer's matches have reached the third, but the strategy must be working. Zillmer is still ranked No. 1 and hasn't lost since his freshmen year.
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Nick Sundholm, Aitkin, scored 20 points against Barnum.
Jordan Riewer, Staples-Motley, had 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against Wadena-Deer Creek.
Dan Kornbaum, Little Falls, scored 34 points against Alexandria and 21 against Fergus Falls.
Zack Meidinger, Verndale, scored 22 points against Eagle Valley.
Nathan Holm, Pine River-Backus, scored 22 points against Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.
Brock Tesdahl, Crosby-Ironton, scored 21 points against Hermantown.
Wrestling: Frank Wilczek, Little Falls, won the 112-pound title at the Big Bear tournament.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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