UNIVERSITY PARK (WTAJ) — Some know Drew Hildebrandt as the little brother of Olympic wrestler Sarah Hildebrandt or as Central Michigan’s two-time All-American. This winter, he’s the first man on the mat for the Nittany Lions, providing stability and experience at 125 lbs.

“I came back to win a national title and help this team,” Hildebrandt said Tuesday. “I just view every win I get or every bonus point I get as a benefit to this team, and I’m just trying to help them and learn a few things along the way.”

Hildebrandt began his college career at Central Michigan in the fall of 2016. After a redshirt season, he began grappling the following year. In four seasons competing with the Chippewas he recorded a 105-41 record. But after completing his senior year last spring, Drew said he was burnt out and walked away with his COVID year of eligibility remaining. Hildebrandt said Tuesday that he wound up missing the sport and wanted to give it a second go, so in late December he joined Penn State’s squad.

“This has been a great process for me. I’m in love with the sport again and constantly want to get better,” he said. “I think Cael at setting a tone and reminding you why you do things and keeping a good positive energy both on and off the mat. So I think this program has helped me become a better person.”

“I think leadership is being consistent, and basically sharing your passion for what you’re doing with the rest of your squad by just being yourself,” said head wrestling coach Cael Sanderson. “I think he’s a great example of both of those things.”

Hildebrandt has gone 4-1 in five matches. He’s ranked seventh in the nation at 125 lbs. He’s one of seven Nittany Lions currently ranked inside InterMat’s top 10. In Friday’s duel against number two Iowa, the 23-year-old sixth-year senior is slated to wrestle true freshman Drake Ayala.

“I’m really enjoying these regular-season matches,” he said. “You know you see them as practice for March, I guess, and I feel like I’m building off each match and when March comes, I’ll be the best version of me.”

Penn State’s duel Friday begins at 9 p.m. ET and airs on the Big Ten Network.

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