War of words: Former Hawkeyes' feud tops Iowa headlines at World Team Trials

Chris Cuellar
Hawk Central

A match between former Hawkeye teammates Thomas Gilman and Tony Ramos cannot come to fruition until Saturday night’s Senior World Team Trials finals series.

Think that diminishes the drama? The verbal war is already underway.

Ramos’ acrimonious split with the Hawkeye Wrestling Club after last year’s Olympic Trials still elicits some level of animosity, and neither 57-kilogram standout is backing down.

A match between former Hawkeye teammates Thomas Gilman and Tony Ramos cannot come to fruition until Saturday night’s Senior World Team Trials finals series.

“I’ve got to remind him what it was like for him in the (practice) room,” Gilman told the Register two weeks ago in Iowa City. “I’ve got to remind him why he didn’t wrestle guys like me or (Cory) Clark or (Daniel) Dennis leading up to the (Olympic) Team Trials. Because he was threatened.

“That’s why he left — he was threatened. I’ve got to remind him and knock him down a notch or two.”

Iowa's three-time All-American Thomas Gilman has his sights former teammate Tony Ramos at this weekend’s Senior World Team Trials in Lincoln, Neb.

Gilman is getting his senior-level freestyle shot after winning the Northern Plains Regional in Rochester, Minn., known as the “Last Chance Qualifier” on May 20. The three-time All-American at 125 pounds was forced by Iowa coaches Tom and Terry Brands to take time away from the practice room following his third-place finish at March’s NCAA Championships.

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Gilman has regained his on-mat form and off-mat mojo since then, setting his sights for this weekend’s Lincoln, Neb., tournament on Ramos and a best-of-three showdown.

“I’ve got an old teammate of mine waiting in the finals,” Gilman said. “That’s a highly-anticipated match that everyone would like to see, but I’ve got a bracket full of tough guys that I’ve got to get through. It’s going to be fun.”

Ramos is the reigning U.S. Open champion after spending the last year coaching and training at North Carolina. The 2014 NCAA title-winner has distanced himself from Iowa since losing to Dennis and proclaiming he felt “stabbed in the back” by the program’s handling of the lightweight challengers.

But Gilman’s prodding — “I know how to freakin’ beat him and he knows that,” the recent HWC addition said on a FloWrestling podcast — elicited a strong public response.

“Tom and Terry better make sure he gets to the finals so I can stomp a mud hole in him,” Ramos told Flo in response.

Gilman’s path to Ramos in Saturday’s challenge tournament is treacherous for a one-day event. The Council Bluffs native has beaten qualifiers Nahshon Garrett and Nathan Tomasello in collegiate competition, but hasn’t faced veterans Tyler Graff, Frank Perrelli or Zach Sanders, and has yet to top Nico Megaludis, Allen Waters or Darian Cruz.

Still, he provides a challenging pace and enters the tournament with confidence from a comeback over Daniel DeShazer in the Northern Plains finals. And the singlet he wore for the 7-6 win? Dennis’ red Olympic outfit, with the name and flag still bold on the back.

“I’m just wearing what’s available,” Gilman said. “It’s not like Titan Mercury (Wrestling Club) or any of those guys have taken me on yet, so I just don’t have singlets. I’m not picky, either.”

The verbal jousting with Ramos isn’t entirely disrespectful, even if Gilman’s tone tends to polarize wrestling fans. But both former Hawkeye stars will need wins to back up their hype.

Related:Understanding Thomas Gilman, Iowa's complex wrestling 'robot'

“He’s tough. He’s strong. He’s a competitor and he shines when the lights are on,” Gilman said of Ramos. “But I remember watching him versus Dennis in the second Trials match. He wasn’t the same kind of guy once Dennis got a hold of him. I think that’s to my advantage. He remembers what I’m like, too.”

Tony Ramos leaves the mat as Daniel Dennis has his arm raised after the Olympics-qualifying win at 57 KG on Sunday, April 10, 2016, during the wrestling Olympic Trials at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.


Cyclones waiting on Gadson’s club decision

Kyven Gadson is going to have difficult decisions to make this weekend.

The 2015 NCAA champ and former Cyclone is a contender in a 97-kilogram bracket that features Olympic gold medalist Kyle Snyder as a boss-level challenge in the finals. And even if Gadson performs the way he did at April’s U.S. Open, he’ll soon be faced with picking a future landing spot for his senior-level career.

“If I’m going to be somewhere, I’m going to trust that person to help me win and get me to my best,” Gadson said during a Wednesday workout in Ames. “(ISU associate head coach Mike) Zadick has been good communicating with me through this process.”

Former Cyclones Kyven Gadson, left, and Jake Varner wrestle in the 214-pound (97-kilo) freestyle weight division at the U.S. Wrestling Olympic Team Trials at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, April 10, 2016.

“If I do end up here, I’m going to trust them to help me win.”

Gadson has been a Cyclone Wrestling Club competitor in the freestyle world, but since head coach Kevin Jackson left ISU and Kevin Dresser’s staff took over, the Waterloo native has considered leaving Ames. The rebranded Cyclone Regional Training Center has extended an offer to keep Gadson in the room, but will have to wait until after the World Team Trials for a decision.

“This is a commitment that we want him here for the next four years and we have a salary in place that competes with his worth to this program, to himself and his family, because we want him to stick around here,” Zadick said.

“We’re kind of at his mercy because he hasn’t given us an answer and he’s not going to until after the Trials. I know his focus is on the Trials.”

Gadson has continued working with Jackson out of Ames High School’s wrestling room, and plans to have the former Olympic gold medalist in his corner on Saturday. They’ve hosted talent like reigning 86-kilo bronze medalist J’den Cox to train with them, but Gadson has yet to announce where he wants to find his next practice partners.

“I’m not sure where coach Jackson will end up, either,” Gadson said. “He’s a grown man with a family. I’m now a grown man with a family. We both have to do what’s best for our careers and families.”

Burak brothers in loaded 97-kilo bracket

Joining Gadson in the challenge tournament for the right to take on America’s dominant light heavyweight Kyle Snyder is former Hawkeye All-American Nathan Burak. The Colorado native took third place at April’s U.S. Open and could potentially see his older brother Micah Burak in the tight bracket.

Iowa's Nathan Burak celebrates as he defeats Minnesota's Brett Pfarr in overtime in the 197 pound match Saturday, March 5, 2016, in the second session of the Big 10 Wrestling Championships in Iowa City.

“Micah is one of my best friends and we get along really well,” Burak said. “On the mat we’re wrestlers, off the mat we’re brothers.

“We’ve been in the same bracket quite a few times, but we haven’t had to wrestle each other yet. If it happens, it happens.”

The Hawkeye Wrestling Club has its own set of brothers competing Saturday in former Minnesota standouts Chris (61 kilos) and Nick (65 kilos) Dardanes.

Big men may have best shot

The heavy 125-kilogram field could offer the best chance for a Senior competitor wrestling out of Iowa to advance on Saturday night. Dom Bradley, a two-time Dave Schultz Memorial champion training in Ames, beat current finalist Nick Gwiazdowski on criteria in last year’s Olympic Team Trials. Iowa and Northern Iowa will each have former collegians qualified in Bobby Telford and Blaize Cabell, too. Olympic qualifier Tervel Dlagnev will join all three in the afternoon challenge tournament.

Saturday's Senior World Team Trials

Where: Devaney Center, Lincoln, Neb.

When: 10 a.m. tournament, 6 p.m. finals

Media: FloWrestling.com

Follow: The Register’s Chris Cuellar will be in Lincoln. Check out updates throughout the weekend on Twitter @CuellarChris.