Zack Giesen planned on easing his way into college wrestling. Instead, he dove in head first.
A true freshman, Giesen planned on making a slow transition into the collegiate wrestling scene, taking a year to adjust, work out with quality teammates and learn from a top-notch head coach. A four-time Oregon State Champion and one of the most accomplished prep wrestlers in the state's history, Giesen knew how to succeed in high school, but wasn't sure where he would stand at the next level.
"I hadn't planned on jumping in right away," says Giesen. "I thought I would redshirt a year, adjust and eventually work my way into the starting line-up. I really wasn't sure I was going to be able to make that jump from high school wrestling to college wrestling."
But when the Cardinal needed him to fill a hole in the 2006-07 line-up, Giesen was ready to try.
On Nov. 4, the Grants Pass, Ore. native stepped into the line-up at 184 pounds and won his first collegiate bout. Within hours, he was putting up a fight against the third-ranked wrestler in the country. Within two weeks, the rookie had won eight more matches, placed third at the competitive Bison Open and battled another one of the nation's top-three 184-pounders. Giesen doing more than making the jump.
But the newcomer's list of accomplishments was far from complete.
On Jan. 7, Giesen won his first collegiate tournament, recording a major decision over Joffre Lander of Embry-Riddle in the Menlo Invitational Championship. On Sunday, he recorded his first collegiate pin, making the difference for the Cardinal in a 22-21 win over Cal State Bakersfield.
"It felt good to get my first pin," noted Giesen. "Before, I was just trying to go out there, wrestle well and get the win, but it was a good feeling to be able to get myself ahead and work for the pin."
Giesen has won six-straight, the longest current winning streak on the squad. He is one of the top-three wrestlers on the team in both wins and dual points, with 21 and 22, respectively. He is also the third-ranked 184-pounder in the Pac-10.
Today, Giesen is poised to add another accomplishment to his list. If he didn't expect to jump into the starting line-up right off the bat, he surely didn't expect to have a chance to jump into the Stanford record books with more than a month left in his rookie season. Against Menlo College, Giesen will be looking for his 22nd win, and a spot on the program's top-five chart for wins in a freshman season.
With an added boost of confidence, Giesen's goals and expectations are growing as quickly as his list of accomplishments.
"Our team is talented, so there's no reason that we can't make it to the top of the conference," he says. "Personally, I want to win the Pac-10 and try to be an All-American. I don't think there's any reason why I can't. I just need to set my goals high, work towards them and hope for the best."