CEDAR FALLS, Iowa–North Dakota State University All-American Hayden Zillmer secured a place at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials by winning the Greco-Roman 85 kg/187 pound weight class at a Last Chance Olympic Trials Qualifier at the UNI-Dome on Friday, April 1. The U.S. Olympic Team Trials are set for Iowa City on April 9-10 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena
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Trailing by one point late in the second period, Zillmer representing the Minnesota Storm, scored a late four-point takedown to claim the 85 kg/187 pound gold medal over fourth-place finisher at the 2015 U.S. Open, Khymbakhy Johnson (New York AC/NMU), 6-3.
“Just another match, another tournament, another step to my goal,” Zillmer told Richard Immel of USA Wrestling following the match.
“I haven’t wrestled Greco in three years and we decided on Tuesday I was coming, so we had Tuesday and Wednesday to train and my game plan for the whole tournament was, I just got to get everybody tired. If I’m down I’m going to score at the end and in the finals that’s what happened.”
Zillmer, who is from Crosby, Minn. (Crosby-Ironton H.S.) finished just short of a second All-American honor two weeks ago at the NCAA Division I Championships in New York City as a senior for the Bison. The three-time NCAA Qualifier finished the season with a 32-6 record and career mark of 105-29 to rank seventh all-time at NDSU.
Former North Dakota State wrestler and West Fargo native Justin LaValle won the 59 kg/130 pound weight class. LaValle, a 2012 NCAA qualifier for Old Dominion, was able to take a 4-0 first-period lead over Taylor LaMont (Champions WC). The two traded second-period takedowns creating moments of drama late, but LaValle ultimately secured the win, 6-4.
“It feels awesome. Just been working all year for this,” LaValle said. “I came up one match short, pretty much, at the Open. Lost in the round of 12 to Kalil who’s a great wrestler and one match at Schultz away. I took fourth and needed third, so this is good. It feels good.”
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