One last chance
Over the past four years, Nick Zumwalt has been one of Dickinson State's most consistent, yet overshadowed, wrestlers. In his final weekend on the mat for the Blue Hawks, the senior said he wants to be more than just steady and reliable. He wants...
Over the past four years, Nick Zumwalt has been one of Dickinson State's most consistent, yet overshadowed, wrestlers.
In his final weekend on the mat for the Blue Hawks, the senior said he wants to be more than just steady and reliable.
He wants to do better than he ever has.
"I just want to place," Zumwalt said. "More than that, I've been wrestling since I was four. I want to be able to wrestle hard and wrestle solid because this is what I'm going to be remembering the rest of my life."
The past three seasons, Zumwalt has reached the NAIA national tournament. And every time, he has fallen just short of the top eight and All-America honors.
Last season as a junior, Zumwalt lost to Ross Mosher of the University of Great Falls, Mont., by a 1-0 decision in one round shy of the wrestleback place rounds. He came up one round short as a freshman too. As a sophomore, he was two rounds away.
Broken down to the simplest explanation, Zumwalt was just four wins away from being a three-time NAIA All-America finisher.
"He's putting everything he has into it, it's not just something he's doing," DSU head coach Thadd O'Donnell said. "He's working very hard at it and he's dedicated to it. We'd definitely like to see him be a top-eight guy. He has the ability to do it and the chance to do it."
The national tournament begins Thursday at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Zumwalt has a 19-14 record this season, spending much of the year at 165 pounds. He was at 157 pounds the previous three seasons.
So what forced him up a weight class?
Well, his wife's cooking wasn't completely responsible, Zumwalt says jokingly.
Zumwalt married his college sweetheart, Michelle, last June.
"I think it's helped, as far as staying focused," Zumwalt said of being married. "I have a pretty organized life."
While O'Donnell has had several wrestlers either married or with families during his tenure as head coach, he said Zumwalt is an example of how to form a balance between wrestling, home life and, of course, school.
While he has never been named All-America on the mat, the psychology major is a NAIA All-America scholar athlete.
"He definitely has a lot of irons in the fire," O'Donnell said. "But he's one of those guys who has done a great job of balancing it and putting his priorities there."
Still, with his career two losses away from being over, Zumwalt said his goal of finishing as high as he can at the national tournament is at the forefront of his mind as he goes into the weekend.
"This year, I'd like to finish with All-American," Zumwalt said. "Otherwise, I haven't made any gains in four years."