Former Iowa national champion Tony Ramos discusses the challenges his first two years of coaching has brought. Cody Goodwin/The Register
Tony Ramos may not represent Iowa's wrestling program anymore, but the former Hawkeye standout is still very much on top of his game.
Ramos, who is now serving as an assistant coach under Coleman Scott at North Carolina, won another national title this past weekend. He won the U.S. Open at 57 kilograms (roughly 125.5 pounds) — his third time winning the United States’ premiere freestyle wrestling competition.
“I’m going to Disneyland!” an emphatic Ramos deadpanned afterward. “No, I really am — I’m taking my kids. It’s been a good six weeks, which is when I decided to drop to this weight, and I spent a lot of time away from family.
“They deserve a few days before I head home and start preparing for the Trials.”
Ramos was one of a handful of wrestlers with Iowa ties who posted a successful weekend at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas. But the Glenbard North product offered a statement with his performance — one that said he is far from done competing.
After wrestling a handful of competitions at 61 kilograms, Ramos made the decision to drop to 57 for the U.S. Open and ensuing World Team Trials run. It turned out to be a smart one, as Ramos went 4-0 and outscored his opponents 23-7. He beat up-and-coming Oklahoma State star Daton Fix in the finals, 2-2 on criteria, to win his third U.S. Open title.
In winning the Open, Ramos automatically advances to the best-of-three finals at the World Team Trials next month in Rochester, Minnesota. There, he'll face the winner of the challenge tournament. If he wins, he’ll advance to the Final X in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he’d have to beat former Iowa star Thomas Gilman in order to make the 2018 Senior world team on June 9.
Ramos has previously been on two world teams — in both 2014 and 2015 — but has come up short in each of the last two years: In 2016, he lost to Daniel Dennis, two matches to none, at the Olympic Trials; last year, he lost to Gilman, who ultimately went on to win a silver medal at the world championships in Paris.
Now, Ramos is one step closer to qualifying for yet another world team. The stingy defense and timely offense that helped him make the teams right out of college was again on display in Vegas. He’ll need more of that in order to make this year’s team, which will compete at the 2018 world championships in Budapest, Hungary.
“There’s a lot of wrongs I have to right from the past two years,” Ramos said. “I want to get back on that team. I want to earn that spot back. I want to give it to Iowa. There are a lot of different things. But this is the best place for me — not just in the U.S., but internationally.”
Former UNI wrestler Colon wins title, named Outstanding Wrestler
Remember Joe Colon? He has lots of Iowa ties. He won two state titles for Clear Lake, then won a junior-college national title at Iowa Central in 2010, then became an All-American at Northern Iowa in 2014.
This past weekend, Colon also won a U.S. Open title, and moved one step closer to making the 2018 world team.
“I stayed patient and stayed aggressive,” Colon said. “Just let the points come to me.”
The points came in bunches. Colon outscored his opponents 34-8 en route to the finals at 61 kilograms, then put forth a tremendous performance in a 20-13 win over former Cornell star Nahshon Garrett to win it all. He was named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler.
Even more, Colon advanced to the Final X in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, at Lehigh, where he’ll meet the winner of the World Team Trials for the right to make the 2018 world team. He’ll compete there on June 23.
“It’s amazing,” Colon said. “I was dreaming about it. I thought about it every day. I wrote it down. Now it’s here.”
Other Iowa ties at the Senior level:
- Nick Dardanes of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club took fourth at 65kg
- Former Iowa wrestler Mike Evans took fourth at 79kg
- Former Iowa State wrestler Pat Downey took seventh at 86kg
- At 97kg, Kyven Gadson took third, Nathan Burak took fourth, Ross Larson took sixth, and Blaize Cabell took eighth
Watters, Louive reach finals in women’s freestyle
A handful of women’s freestylers with Iowa ties also performed well in Vegas.
Rachel Watters, a former Ballard star, reached the finals at 72 kilograms. She won her first two matches by a combined 24-1 before falling to Erin Clodgo, 6-5, in the finals.
Lauren Louive, a member of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, also reached the finals, at 59 kilograms. Louive put up explosive numbers en route to the finals, beating her two foes 14-8 and 9-3. But in the finals, she, too, fell short, losing 4-2 to two-time Olympian Kelsey Campbell.
The women’s freestyle competition didn’t have too many Iowa ties — the big one, Alli Ragan, is already waiting in Final X at 59 kilograms, thanks to her world silver medal last year — but there were a couple others, as Megan Black and Jasmine Bailey both reached the podium.
Black, the only girl to place at the Iowa state wrestling tournament, placed fifth at 57 kilograms. Bailey, an Iowa City West product, also took fifth, at 68 kilograms.
Iowa, Iowa State wrestlers win Juniors titles
A handful of Iowa and Iowa State standouts fared well in the UWW Juniors competition in Vegas:
Jacob Warner, Champion at 92 kilograms: Warner, who is expected to join Iowa’s starting lineup next season, didn’t allow a point en route to a national title, outscoring his four opponents 41-0. All of his matches lasted less than 90 seconds.
Jeremiah Moody, Champion at 74 kilograms: Moody, an Iowa sophomore, was perhaps the surprise performance of the weekend, going 6-0 and winning his final three by a combined five points to win a Juniors title. Moody outscored his opponents 72-40 over the weekend.
Austin Gomez, Champion at 61 kilograms: Gomez dominated en route to a national title. The Iowa State freshman outscored his six opponents 68-16, and defeated Jordan Decatur, a future Ohio State wrestler and past world team member, in the finals, 14-4.
Gannon Gremmel, Champion at 125 kilograms: Gremmel, another Iowa State freshman, dominated en route to his first-place finish. His toughest match came in the finals, where he rattled off 16-straight points to beat Brandon Metz, 16-8.
All four champions automatically advance to the best-of-three finals at the UWW Junior World Team Trials next month in Rochester, Minnesota.
Other Iowa ties in the Juniors tournament:
- McGwire Midkiff, a former Iowa prep star from Council Bluffs, took fifth at 61kg
- Max Murin, a current Iowa freshman, took second at 65kg
- David Carr, a future Cyclone wrestler, took fourth at 70kg
- Myles Wilson, a current Iowa freshman, took eighth at 86kg
- Max Lyon, a former Iowa prep star from Dubuque and current Purdue freshman, took fifth at 86kg
Some Iowa preps also competed at Junior Nationals:
- Michael Blockhus, a three-time Iowa state champ from New Hampton and future Northern Iowa wrestler, took eighth at 65kg
- Hunter DeJong, a future Cyclone wrestler and state finalist from Sibley-Ocheyedan, took fifth at 97kg in freestyle and fifth in Greco-Roman
Everybody who placed in the top eight at the UWW Junior Nationals automatically qualifies for the UWW Junior World Team Trials next month in Rochester, Minnesota.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.