Zimmerman’s support system stronger than ever as the Hayden senior takes second at state

Hayden senior Dylan Zimmerman gets words from his father, Mark, ahead of the 145-pound championship match Saturday, Feb. 19, at the Colorado High School Activities Association State Wrestling Championships at Ball Arena.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

DENVER — When Hayden senior Dylan Zimmerman lost in the 2A 145-pound championship match to Highland rival Zach Tittle, he had no shortage of people to turn to. His father and coach, Mark, was in the coach’s corner, as was his brother, Drake.

The Zimmerman brothers walked down the hallway just behind the stands together. They shared an emotional few moments, then Drake left Dylan alone to change and consider the conclusion of his high school wrestling career.

“I’m disappointed in myself but happy to achieve some of my goals,” Dylan said. “That being getting into the parade of champions. That was one of my biggest goals since I was little. I wasn’t able to get the ultimate goal, win the state title, but I’ve had good success in my career and I’m happy for that.”

Drake, four years Dylan’s senior, appeared to be more emotional than his brother. When he was in high school wrestling, Drake had the same goal of being a state champion, but never achieved it. He has done everything he can to help Dylan reach his.

It was difficult for him to accept that all the work still wasn’t enough.

“I know what it’s like to be in his shoes,” Drake said. “Your entire life has been preparing for this opportunity and then it just gets ripped out from under you. It’s heartbreaking.

“I understand how it is to lose out on your dream. So, if I could do anything to help him achieve his, I’m going to do anything I can to do that.”

Hayden senior Dylan Zimmerman was coached and supported by his brother, Drake, and father, Mark, during the championship match at the Colorado High School Activities Association State Wrestling Championships on Saturday, Feb. 19, at Ball Arena.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Drake has served as Dylan’s practice partner all season, taking time from his life to go to Hayden High School and challenge his brother. They would challenge either so much that Mark would have to separate them and remind them that they are in fact related.

Even while fighting throat cancer, Dylan’s father attended every match he could. As his health improved over the last year or so, he returned to the weight room and coached Dylan, allowing him to watch his son’s achievement a lot more closely than other parents.

“It’s been a hell of a ride,” Mark said. “A lot of ups, a lot of downs. Mainly ups. … It has been the highlight of my life, both (Dylan and Drake).”

Dylan’s mother, Gayle, takes hundreds of photos, if not thousands, at every single competition.

His grandparents have never missed a match except for the ones last year they coudn’t attend due to COVID-19 restrictions. That doesn’t just mean Dylan either. Until last year, his grandparents hadn’t missed a single match since Dylan’s oldest uncle started wrestling. He’s 57 now.

Support doesn’t come from just those in a Tigers uniform either. Western Slope teams from Meeker to Cedaredge will root for Zimmerman, so long as he isn’t wrestling one of their own.

Maybe it had yet to hit him that his time competing in the sport to which he dedicated years of his life was over, but Dylan was well collected after his loss. He only really got choked up when talking about the people that helped him have such a successful career.

“I have the best support system in the whole Yampa Valley,” Zimmerman said. “That’s amazing to me.”

Zimmerman’s Hayden teammate, junior Cody Hawn, fought for third in the 170-pound after winning his consolation semifinal by win Saturday morning. Hawn took on Payton Wade of Wray in the third-place match.

Hawn spent most of the bout on the ground, fighting to escape from Wade’s grip. He trailed 4-0 midway through the third, so he needed to not only get loose but to get Wade on his back and score some points, if not pin him.

If Hawn had had another 30 seconds, he might have been able to do it. Instead, he settled for fourth.

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