Four years ago, Noah Ziegler ’16 came into his freshman year at Princeton High School with his mind set on football. PHS football and wrestling coach Rashone Johnson recommended that Ziegler take up wrestling during the offseason to keep in shape and supplement his football career. Until then, Ziegler had no experience with the sport, having only watched it for fun in the past. Despite his lack of experience, he entered the Old Gym late November ready to try out.
Now, he is the starting 220-pounder for the wrestling team with a record of 16 wins, seven losses, and ten pins this season. In addition, he placed second at the Patriot Invitational in Secaucus and acquired a six-game winning streak this year.
As a former captain of the football team and starter for the wrestling team, Ziegler found one distinct difference between the two sports. “When you’re on the mat, it’s only you,” he said. “If you mess up on the field, you can turn to the other guys on the field in football, but if you mess up on the mat, it’s on you and only you.”
Competing at such a high level in both of these sports requires a lot of work. For wrestling, not only are the practice sessions more than two hours, but wrestlers specifically must also cut up to five pounds before weigh-ins in order to conform to their specific weight classes. “The commitment [of] all the guys have made me want to stay committed [to wrestling],” Ziegler said. Both his enjoyment of the sport and his many wins kept him in the game as well. “If you get a guy on his back and pin him, it feels great.”
Unfortunately, his six-game winning streak came to an end due to an ankle injury at the Mercer County Tournament in Robbinsville. His opponent hit his ankle during a match and Ziegler said it had been hurting from then on. “I continued wrestling in the match I was in and finished that, but I had to stop wrestling in the tournament.” Doctors later said he had a sprained ankle. Even though Ziegler didn’t wrestle another match during the tournament, he was still able to place sixth.
Reflecting on the initial reason for joining the program, Ziegler agrees that taking up wrestling has assisted his football career. “Wrestling has [helped] me in football is [that I’m] more conditioned, stronger, better with my feet, [and] quicker.”
Johnson also sees improvement in the mental aspect of Zeigler’s game. “He’s mentally tougher,” he said. “He believes he’s bigger and better than his competition.” On the other hand, football has also benefitted Ziegler in his wrestling career. “Football helped me with [the] strategic part [of wrestling], learning, [and] … ways to get better in the weight room,” he explained, “Overall, I would say both sports have given me a better work ethic.”
Ziegler looks to continue participation in both sports in the future, and has received offers from Norwich University for his wrestling performance and Kutztown University for his football performance.