Hayden freshman takes third-place state wrestling title with sprinkles on top
DENVER — Hayden High School freshman Dylan Zimmerman will have one large cup of cookies and cream Dippin’ Dots.
Don’t forget the sprinkles on top.
“I tease him when he loses,” Dylan’s father, Mark Zimmerman said. “When he calms down, I say, ‘You don’t get no sprinkles today because only winners get sprinkles.’”
Dylan fell to Rye sophomore Michael Atencio by a 6-1 decision in the state semifinal Friday, Feb. 22, putting him in the semifinals of the consolation bracket Saturday.
Dylan pinned Rocky Ford junior Michael Maldonado in 4 minutes, 44 seconds, earning a spot in the consolation finals, a match for third place.
The Zimmerman family have wrestling down to every intricate detail. The sport is a tradition that’s been passed down from generation to generation, cousin to cousin.
Each match is like a masterpiece. Mark will give his son a back rub, working his way to the shoulders. He stretches out Dylan’s shoulders, then helps him stretch his legs.
“I give him a little talking to, and my talking is different every single time,” Mark said. “And that’s all I can do. And then, I leave him alone, and he’ll run wind sprints, and then Drake will wrestle with him. We like to give him 10 minutes alone. He’ll listen to his music, and I can tell by the look in his face, if he looks mad, he’s going to wrestle really good. If he doesn’t have that look on his face, I get scared.”
Just before Dylan wrestles, Mark grabs him by the head to give him one last thought. He doesn’t tell anyone what he says: it’s a family secret.
“We like to be competitive and strong,” Dylan said. “We like to fight for what we like. It’s the best sport out there.”
Dylan won his consolation final match over John Mall junior Chris Mckenna on sheer lung capacity.
The freshman has stayed consistent all tournament: fast, aggressive and relentless. He’s the first to lunge at each opponent and doesn’t waste time on the mat, consistently morphing different positions without stopping.
“My feet for my third place match was probably my specialty,” Dylan said. “I took the kid down three different times, and at first, I put him down on his back and got two points for it. My conditioning is the one thing I know I can control. I can’t control what the ref does. I can partially control what the kid does, but my conditioning and my endurance, I can control all that.”
Mckenna was drowning in the match, and Dylan kept pushing him further under water. Anytime the two wrestled out of bounds and were forced to reposition, Dylan jogged back to the middle of the mat like he was just getting warmed up, but Mckenna reluctantly dropped to his hands and knees to get in position.
Dylan won by an 8-2 decision, hardly breathing as he leapt into his father’s embrace.
The lifting before school, after-practice wind sprints, jumping rope, push-ups and wrestling with his dad and brother Drake all paid off. Dylan took third at his first high school state tournament.
“My cousin Ty Weber, a three-time state champion for Moffat County, his freshman year he took fifth,” Dylan said. “I always compare myself to him. If I can take 3rd my freshman year, then I can get first next year.”
Dylan has maintained a strict diet throughout his wrestling season, wrestling in the 113-pound weight class.
Today, he’s ready to enjoy a steak at Texas Roadhouse with a large lemonade before he returns that evening to watch his teammate in the finals with a cup of Dippin’ Dots.
For years, Dylan has watched the high school state wrestling competitions, and this weekend, he lived his dream of beginning his quest for four-straight appearances by surpassing his expectations.
“I had two goals: make it to the semifinals and to come home over the mountain with a medal,” Dylan said. “If I got those two goals, it’s just gravy.”
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