High school wrestlers get 1 minute and 30 seconds to determine if they can continue or not. (Teddy Feinberg/GameTimePA.com)
Zurich Storm was getting nervous.
The New Oxford senior wrestler had hoped to make his college decision right before or during his final season, yet remained undecided when the 2016-17 campaign ended in March.
With a goal of finding a school where he could wrestle at a high level and focus on academics, Storm didn't want to rush anything.
The patience has certainly paid off.
Storm will continue his wrestling career at the Division I level, having accepted a preferred walk-on spot with North Carolina State last month. The four-time PIAA qualifier plans to compete at 125 pounds and will redshirt his first season.
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"It was nerve-racking, but everything takes time and I realized I needed to find a college that believed in me and the other people in the wrestling room," Storm said. "I felt like (North Carolina State was) the best fit academic-wise and had the resources needed to support any task I do."
Storm initially received interest from Division II programs but started hearing from bigger programs last fall, such as N.C. State, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Gardner-Webb.
Of all those, N.C. State stood out to Storm because of how down to earth its wrestlers seemed. The Wolfpack went 13-2 in dual meets last season and qualified all 10 of their starters for the NCAA Championships.
Most of their wrestlers approached him to introduce themselves during his visit to the school, Storm said.
"They treated me like I was already part of the team," he said. "That was the tipping point for me, there was a bond and I felt I really connected."
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Of course, breaking into that starting lineup will be far from easy. While the Colonials standout will take a redshirt season to adjust to college wrestling, the Wolfpack currently have redshirt-sophomore and two-time NCAA qualifier Sean Fausz at 125 pounds.
Storm knows he will have to prove himself to head coach Pat Popolizio, especially as a non-scholarship athlete, but hopes to be a contributor for the Wolfpack in a few years. He's currently wrestling with a club team to stay in shape for the upcoming season.
"I like the intensity that the kids there put out," he said. "I'm just going to continue to do my best."
Storm finished his decorated career by going 35-4 and winning the District 3 Class 3A title at 120 pounds this season. He also earned a sixth-place medal at the state tournament and was named a GameTimePA.com first-team all-star for the third-straight season.
He plans to study elementary education at N.C. State and will begin taking classes there this June.