Aaron Sulzer is in his last year of eligibility as a wrestler for Eastern Michigan University. Even though this is his fifth year wrestling at the collegiate level and he started wrestling in kindergarten, he hasn’t always liked the sport.
“I never really liked wrestling, but I stuck with it because my brothers and best friends all participated in it,” said Sulzer, a 157-pounder.
His feelings about wrestling changed once he started to improve and put in extra time outside of his practices. Not only did he start wrestling during the summer months, he also practiced with his brothers.
“My family has always been extremely supportive,” Sulzer said. “I come from a family that’s big into wrestling.”
Sulzer took fourth place at the Junior High States competition in eighth grade. There was only one division and he felt it was a pretty impressive accomplishment.
“At that point I knew I could do something special with wrestling that I could not with other sports I played,” he said.
Sulzer also played baseball, soccer and football before deciding to stick with wrestling. He found baseball and soccer really boring, even though he believes he was best at soccer.
Sulzer was also good at football, taking hold of the starting quarterback position from fourth through eighth grade. However, he decided to focus all of his time on wrestling when he realized he was too short to have a career in football.
“I felt it [wrestling] was my best chance to become a state champion and to receive a Division 1 scholarship,” Sulzer said.
Sulzer came to EMU from Cleveland, Ohio where he attended Holy Name High School and became a two-time state finalist, state champion and accomplished his goal of receiving multiple Division 1 scholarships — despite the school being known more for women’s soccer than wrestling.
EMU wrestling head coach Derek DelPorto recruited Sulzer because of his accomplishments in high school, both athletic and academic, and his great family.
“Basically, he is exactly what we look for in our recruits,” DelPorto said.
Athletic and financial opportunities were contributing factors to Sulzer’s decision to attend EMU. He also wanted the opportunity to become the best wrestler in the program’s history.
“The reason for competitions is to try and be the best and I’m very competitive, whether it’s in a wrestling match or a board game,” Sulzer said. “I hate losing at anything.”
This season Sulzer is 9-4, winning his last six matches. He has 78 victories overall. He strives for even better as his last season carries on.
“So far, I have qualified for the NCAA tournament twice,” Sulzer said. “If I can [be] All-American this season then I can say that I’ve accomplished something that very few people in the program’s history have done and that is very important to me.”
While achieving his athletic goals, Sulzer is also working toward a Master of Business Administration after graduating last April with a degree in accounting. When the season is over he plans to become a graduate assistant coach for the Eagles but Sulzer has even bigger career goals for his future.
“I really love auditing and hope to someday be a forensic accountant and fraud investigator for the FBI,” Sulzer said.
DelPorto has watched him grow over the years and believes Sulzer’s leadership skills will continue to help the team.
“His maturity level and grasp of what is important about the training aspect of this sport has progressively increased every year,” DelPorto said. “This will help him next year when he is helping us coach as he finishes his master’s degree.”
Sulzer has yet to miss a practice or even be late and DelPorto believes Sulzer has been “the poster boy of EMU wrestling.”
“He has worked as hard as he can every day since he has been wrestling for me,” DelPorto said. “That is a leader by example if you look it up in the unwritten dictionary of sports.”
Sulzer’s leadership skills have been acknowledged by teammates too. Redshirt junior Phillip Joseph believes Sulzer has made quite an impact on the team.
“He [Sulzer] plays a huge role in our program,” Joseph said. “He leads by example on and off the mat.”
As the season gets closer to its end DelPorto predicts that Sulzer will be standing on the podium.
“He [will end] his career at the NCAA Championship smiling as I take his picture on the podium,” DelPorto said.
Sulzer’s road to success continues as the Eagles host their last home meet of 2012, against Indiana University Dec. 16. Wrestling begins at 1 p.m. at Bowen Field House.