Despite being in one of the first major tournaments of his high school career, Greencastle-Antrim freshman Ethan Zimmerman showed poise on Day 1 of the Trojan Wars wrestling tournament, competing with some of the area's most experienced wrestlers.
But that should come as no surprise for those who know Zimmerman, who has been immersed in the sport since he was 4 years old.
Wrestling at 132 pounds, a challenging weight class at this year's Trojan Wars, Zimmerman made it through the first round of competition by beating Cumberland Valley's Jake Barrick, a senior from one of the area's top wrestling programs. It was a tight bout, but Zimmerman claimed a 2-1 decision to move on to the quarterfinals.
"I'm in a pretty stacked weight class, with a lot of really good wrestlers, but going against kids that are better than me helps," Zimmerman said. "I get better at scrambling and in sticky situations I'm better at defending them."
Zimmerman faced another upperclassman in the quarterfinal, Nick Lilley of Downingtown West, who boasted a 25-12 record prior to the Wars. Zimmerman fell by a 7-4 decision, which was a high-scoring affair for the freshman.
"He never scores a lot of points, which we are OK with," Greencastle coach Drew Allshouse said. "We really like his neutral game, and his ground game is good. We would like to see him shoot more, but that is just his style and it's a little bit different."
Zimmerman's first consolation bout was won in similar fashion, a 1-0 win in the quarterfinals over Gavin Link, a junior from Penn Cambria, in a fast-paced match with a majority of the time spent on their feet.
"With an elite wrestler, they are very good in neutral and they are very good at the bottom. They are used to wrestling on their feet, so a 1-1 match is nothing out of the ordinary for him," Allshouse said.
Zimmerman honed his neutral skills thanks to nearly a decade of work in the sport, and sparring with another top Greencastle freshman wrestler, Aurelius Dunbar, who now competes for Mercersburg Academy.
"He's been my partner for the last five years, and usually when we wrestle he kind of beats the crap out of me, but it's kind of been good for me," Zimmerman said. "When you're wrestling a kid like that, constantly getting beat, you work on stuff to try to not get beat as much."
Zimmerman ended up placing seventh in the 132 weight class, splitting a pair of matches on Day 2 of the Trojan Wars. He won his final bout of the weekend in dominant fashion, beating Central Dauphin East junior Devin Vajda with a 10-2 major decision.