This week’s top athlete is one of only two OTHS wrestlers who still maintains an undefeated record entering the 2017 portion of the season.
After barreling to a 21-0 record through the first two months of the campaign, senior Alek Ziegler has not shown any signs of faltering. The 17-year old matman, the son of Brett and Julie Ziegler, has strong-armed each opponent he has faced and, in the process, has captured individual championships in the 120- lb. weight class in both the Chatham-Glenwood and Mascoutah invitationals.
O’Fallon High coach Glenn Exton has seen Ziegler evolve into one of the top wrestlers in the area through a work ethic second to none.
“Alek has earned his spot as one of the premier wrestlers in the area through mega mat time,” Exton explained. “He is in the same mold as former O’Fallon state champion Keith Surber. He is a mat rat. He just wants to compete and has spent countless hours on the mat in off-season tournaments. Alek has not perfected his craft through drills, but in live competition. His competitive spirit drives him.”
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That spirit was fostered with an introduction to junior wrestling at 6 years old. After trying a number of sports as a youngster, Ziegler gravitated toward wrestling as his sport of choice.
“I started in junior wrestling and wrestled my eighth-grade year at Fulton Junior High,” said the Panther grappler. “Although I enjoyed a variety of sports, I found that I like wrestling the most and have stuck with it.”
Ziegler plans on continuing his connection with the sport after graduation this spring. Several schools have expressed an interest in adding the Panther 120-pounder to their collegiate roster. Simpson College and Buena Vista College in Iowa and Nebraska Wesleyan have been the most aggressive in their recruitment of the talented OTHS grappler, but Ziegler is keeping his options open.
“I want to pursue a collegiate wrestling career,” Ziegler said. “Right now, though, I’m focused on my senior season and finishing my high school career as successfully as I can. Wrestling has been a big part of my life and competing has taught me many valuable life lessons that I hope to carry with me after high school.
“Alek always wants to know when we are going live in practice,” Exton said. “He thrives in the competitive environment of wrestling and is a major factor in our success as a team.”