At this time last year, Steve Zimmerman was wrestling at St. Rita high school in Chicago, winning the state title at 152 pounds as a senior.
The transition to collegiate wrestling has not fazed Zimmerman just yet. The freshman earned two major decisions and two falls on his way to the 149 pound title at the Pointer Open Saturday in Stevens Point, Wis.
Overall, the Huskies won three individual titles at the event, with Vince Castillo winning at 141 pounds and Bryan Deutsch winning at 157.
â€œWe had three guys win that havenâ€™t won college tournaments yet,â€ said NIU head coach Dave Grant. â€œWe had half our team in the finals.â€
At 141, Castillo pinned fellow Huskie Dan Ruettiger in the finals for his first victory in a collegiate tournament.
Deutsch lost his wrestle-off to freshman John Odeen, but did not run into him at the Pointer Open as Odeen lost in the second round.
â€œHeâ€™s got an uncanny style, heâ€™s pretty strong,â€ Grant said of Deutsch. â€œHe has the ability to put people on their back.â€
By virtue of Odeen winning the wrestle-off and Detusch finishing higher in the teamâ€™s first tournament of the year, the two will have another wrestle-off this week to determine who will start the year in the teamâ€™s main lineup.
Two NIU wrestlers were able to finish second at the tournament, with sophomore Tristen DeShazer at 141 and freshman Dakota Greenhaw at heavyweight.
It was a long Saturday afternoon for Grant and the rest of the Huskie wrestling team. The team weighed in at 7 a.m. and the tournament didnâ€™t end until 11 p.m.
â€œWe took no breaks,â€ Grant said. â€œIt takes a day just to get back to normal. Itâ€™s one of those weekends where youâ€™re just happy itâ€™s Monday.â€
The Huskies compete in their first dual meet next Saturday at the Boilermaker Duals in West Lafayette, Ind. NIU will take on Campbellsville, Purdue and Tennessee-Chattanooga.