BELGRADE, Serbia - Gopher Wrestling Club athlete Hayden Zillmer's first World Championships came to a close on Thursday morning as Zillmer fell short of the podium to place 7th in the 125-kilogram bracket.
Zillmer impressed in the tournament by going 2-1 on the day, but fell in the quarterfinals to Geno Petriashvili (Georgia) in the quarterfinals and wasn't able to get pulled back into repechage following a Petriashvili loss in the semifinals.
Hayden kicked off the morning with a pigtail match against Turkmenistan's Zyyamuhammet Saparov, where he rolled to a technical superiority win. Saparov opened the match with an arm throw to take an early 4-0 lead, but Zillmer would be in control the rest of the way using two takedowns, two turns and a pushout to take a 9-4 lead into the break before converting another takedown and a chest wrap to close out the 15-4 victory.
In the Round of 16, Zillmer found himself in a much more methodical match as he squared off against Robert Boran (Poland). Heavy hand-fighting was the story of much of the first period as Hayden took a 1-0 lead into the break after Boran was put on the shot clock first. In the second frame, Baran was put on the shot clock once again for inactivity while Zillmer also collected a pushout point to extend his lead to 3-0. Baran would get a takedown late to close the gap, but Zillmer would still walk away with the 3-2 win.
Heading into the quarterfinals, Hayden would square off against former World Champion Geno Petriashvili for the second time this summer, but ultimately fell by a score of 9-4. Zillmer went into the break down 3-0 after surrendering a shot clock point and an inside single takedown, and while he pushed the pace in the second frame, Geno's reattacks proved to be the difference as Petriashvili would walk away with the win.
Zillmer would then need Petriashvili to win his semifinals match against Mongolia's Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur to pull Hayden back into repechage, but Munkhtur pulled off the upset by a score of 4-2 and dashed Zillmer's world medal chances.
Following Hayden's performance, Coach Steiner released a statement about his thoughts on the tournament and what's next for the GWC heavyweight:
"Looking back on today, I'm not going to lie it was tough, not because of the result, but when you see someone who has put everything into accomplishing the goals he has set for himself, it makes it hard to swallow when he falls short.
I could not ask anything more from Hayden, but for some reason it wasn't meant to be. This sport is very unforgiving, however, what we take from this is we must control our own destiny.
I know Hayden will be back at it ASAP. We must first just take some time to evaluate what we are doing as coaches in our training and how we compete.
Hayden is a savage and I know he will make the adjustments he needs to make. I am proud of him and the effort he put forth."
Gopher Wrestling Club will be back on the world stage in just over four weeks, as Aaron Nagao and Michial Foy head to Pontevedra, Spain to compete in the U23 World Championships from October 17th-23rd.