07/17/11 — Behrend taking wrestling talents to NAIA power Jamestown (ND) College

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Behrend taking wrestling talents to NAIA power Jamestown (ND) College

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on July 17, 2011 1:50 AM

Zach Behrend scribbled on the information sheet, passed it over and waited for his next match to begin.

The paper soon became an afterthought.

Until he received an unexpected -- and welcome -- email.

Coaches from Jamestown (N.D.) College had obtained Behrend's information, and wanted to find out more about the Rosewood wrestling star. Another email followed and then came a phone call late one evening.

"Dad, it's that college I responded to," said Zach.

His father shook from his slumber and the two listened on speaker phone as the caller talked about the NAIA program, which has produced two national champions and several All-Americans.

"When you're at nationals, you give your email to certain schools and that school wasn't there," said Behrend. "It must have been a trade-off because one school might not need this weight class, so they send it to another school. It got serious a couple of weeks ago."

Due to travel, Behrend took a virtual tour of the campus online. The small-town atmosphere and student-to-teacher (14:1) ratio enticed him to sign a national letter-of-intent. Behrend is the third Rosewood grappler to head to the collegiate ranks behind Aaron Lynch and JD Baker, who both went to UNC Pembroke.

Behrend fashioned a 143-16 record during his four-year varsity career with the Eagles. He claimed three Carolina/Four Rivers 1-A Conference crowns, two regional titles and emerged a three-time All-State performer after top-three finishes in the N.C. High School Athletic Association state championship meet. Behrend took third as a sophomore, and was the state runner-up as a junior and senior.

Rosewood was the NCHSAA dual-team state runner-up in 2010.

"Zach is a fine young man with a bright future," said Rosewood High head coach Bill Edmundson. "He has exemplified great work ethic and leadership. (He) will represent Rosewood HS and Wayne County with class at Jamestown College."

A dedicated 125-pounder and student of the sport, Behrend will learn the ropes behind rising senior Sean Blumhardt, who earned All-American honors this past season. Blumhardt ended up fifth in the NAIA national championship meet.

The Jimmies finished seventh overall as a team.

As a freshman at Rosewood, Behrend wrestled behind Olivia Neal, who became the program's first-ever female state qualifier. He saw action in just 14 matches that season, while Neal etched her name in the school -- and Wayne County -- record books.

"I'm going to go in behind a big star," said Behrend, who also contacted schools in Iowa and Idaho. "I'll learn the ropes, I guess."

Behrend's best asset is his natural athletic ability. His sister, Stephanie, earned a college soccer scholarship. His older brother, Joe, wrestled for Rosewood in the early 1990s.

A wrestler who likes to stay in control on the mat, Behrend improved his strength during the offseason before his senior year. He carried a 51-0 record into the state title match, but took a disappointing injury default due to suffering concussion-like symptoms.