After four matches in a vicious 57-kilogram bracket at Saturday’s Senior World Team Trials, the former Hawkeye All-American made it.
Gilman will get former teammate and reigning U.S. Open champion Tony Ramos in a best-of-three finals series at the Devaney Center on Saturday night, backing up their desire for an All-Iowa clash for a spot in August’s World Championships.
“He’s in my path, and I’m going to freakin’ take him out,” Gilman said after winning his fourth freestyle match in the span of three hours.
“I know how to beat him, and he thinks he knows how to beat me, too. So, it’s going to be a tough match.”
Gilman needed a dramatic late takedown of Ohio State’s Nathan Tomasello in the challenge tournament finals to force his way to Ramos. Tied 2-2, but losing on criteria in the waning moments, Gilman finished a shot and scramble to score a four-point attack with 3 seconds remaining. The Hawkeye-heavy crowd roared for the win as Hawkeye Wrestling Club coach Mark Perry kicked the futile challenge brick Tomasello’s corner threw on the mat.
Gilman viewed his four consecutive wins as another step towards getting what he wants.
“I don’t look at the opponent, I just look at what I can do and what I’ve done,” Gilman said. “My skills were pretty sharp all day.”
Ramos was a 2014 NCAA champ at 133 pounds. Gilman was an All-American at 125 for the three years after, but never won a national title. The two have gone back-and-forth since Ramos’s split with Iowa’s club and coaching staff after last year’s Olympic Trials. They’ll get a highly-anticipated chance to wrestle out their issues for a World Team spot.
“There’s no sense in worrying about it right now,” Gilman said. “I’ll let him worry.”
The unbeaten Ames High Wrestling Club
Kyven Gadson and Dom Bradley were Cyclone Wrestling Club representatives while Kevin Jackson was Iowa State’s head coach, and they’ve kept training with the Olympic gold medalist since he left the college job. Workouts take place at Ames High School, and both wrestlers went unbeaten in Saturday’s challenge tournament.
Gadson cruised to the 97-kilogram finals with wins over Hayden Zillmer (12-1), Nathan Burak (4-0), then Micah Burak (10-0). Bradley won the heavyweight bracket by allowing just two points to former Iowa wrestler Bobby Telford and former Minnesota national champ Tony Nelson.
“It’s just been two dudes and KJ,” Gadson said. “We’ve been working our butts off…we’re just trying to figure out ways to sharpen our skills. Hopefully they’re sharp enough tonight. If they’re not, it’s going to be a tough night.”
Gadson set up a rematch of the 2015 NCAA championship against reigning Olympic champion Kyle Snyder in Saturday night’s finals series. After struggling to regain his elite form in 2016, Gadson attacked well to win April’s U.S. Open and was dominant on Saturday morning.
“Kyle is the best in the world right now,” the Waterloo native said. “I’ve got nothing bad to say about him. I’ll just need some hard wrestling.”
Grand View product places at 61 kilos
Brandon Wright earned a true second place at 61 kilograms after entertaining in four challenge tournament shootouts. A two-time NAIA champion while at Grand View, Wright topped NCAA runner-up Seth Gross in a 13-11 opener. After a 10-4 win over Josh Kindig, he dropped the bracket’s final to U.S. Open champion Kendric Maple.
Wright dealt with an upset stomach — vomiting on the mat late in his final match — but closed the event with a 14-4 win.