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Zabriskie Finds a Way to Win

Courtesy: cyclones.com

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AMES, Iowa – Iowa State’s David Zabriskie doesn’t like getting pushed around. Cyclone fans have agonizingly shifted in their seats all season attempting to will “Big Z” to victory in his many close matches. It’s very rare the relatively diminutive Cyclone heavyweight is on the losing end of a wrestling match. Zabriskie has worked and grinded his way to the No. 1-overall ranking this season, while standing in the physical shadow of many of his larger opponents.

“I still get a lot of big guys that are huge compared to me,” Zabriskie said. “I really don’t even see it anymore. I’m pretty much used to it. At this point, I’m almost positive guys are going to be larger in size than me, so it doesn’t bother me when there’s a huge guy out there. I’m still going to wrestle him the same way.”

While being outmatched in size by nearly 50 pounds in some cases, the 6-0, 230-pound Zabriskie still finds ways to outpace all of his competition. He currently leads the ISU team in career victories with an 87-18 all-time mark. Shortly into his senior season, Zabriskie will likely join the 100-win club at Iowa State, where some of the biggest names in all of collegiate wrestling history reside.

“Big Z” stands at 30-2 in his junior campaign heading into next week’s NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Mo. Zabriskie isn’t letting either loss or anything else hang over his head this season.

“I had those two losses,” Zabriskie said. “Those were at least a month or so ago. They helped put things in perspective. They both helped me realize a couple of things I needed to work on. I need to believe in myself and I need to get more points.”

Zabriskie just won his second Big 12 Conference heavyweight title and will be taking that momentum with him to the Scottrade Center in St. Louis next week. ISU’s heavyweight is helping lead the charge alongside all nine of his teammates. The Cyclones are the only team in Division I to send all of its varsity competitors to the NCAA Championships.

“When we get down there it’s just like every other meet that we’re at,” Zabriskie said. “Our whole team is there so it’s not like there’s anybody or anything missing. It certainly feels just like any other meet and that’s pretty important for scoring points. You get ten guys down there scoring points for you; that’s huge. There are other teams there that only have six, seven, eight, maybe nine guys so that’s pretty good.”

After earning All-America status last season, nothing has seemed to slow down Zabriskie’s rise to the top of the heavyweight pile. The tough competition in the Big 12 hasn’t hampered Zabriskie. The top three heavyweights in the nation call the Big 12 Conference home, but Zabriskie has turned away both Mark Ellis of Missouri and Oklahoma State’s Jared Rosholt this season.

“Coach and I have planned out a couple of things that I’ve been able to work on,” Zabriskie said. “Just picking up tiny things that kind of improved my style out has helped quite a bit. Certainly my competition is probably one of my tougher schedules that I’ve had. Over the last two or three years it has seemed just about every time I was going out there, I wrestled a ranked opponent of some sort. That helps with the difficulty of the schedule.”

Way back when the Branchville, N.J. native first became a wrestler, the intent was the have fun. Zabriskie hasn’t lost sight of that ideal as he heads into the most important meet of the season.

“I don’t put a whole lot of pressure on myself,” Zabriskie said. “I just try to be as easy going and as stress free as I possibly can. I don’t get myself extremely worked up over any competition so that makes it fun. It makes it easier too. The season goes well when everything’s relaxed and you’re not constantly putting pressure on yourself that you don’t need.”

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