In 2018, 34 Iowa high school wrestlers earned All-American honors at the Cadet and Junior Freestyle and Greco-Roman National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota. Cody Goodwin/The Register
A year after reaching the world championship match, Thomas Gilman came up just short of the podium.
Gilman took fifth at the 2018 Senior men’s freestyle world championships in Budapest, Hungary. Competing at 57 kilograms (125 pounds), the former Iowa wrestler went 2-2 in the tournament. He reached the semifinals Sunday before losing twice to miss out on a medal.
The performance might be described as underwhelming, considering Gilman, a Council Bluffs native, reached the championship match a year ago. He struggled through his second Senior-level season, but won the world team spot in June with the goal of righting last year’s wrong.
On Sunday morning, Gilman opened with back-to-back wins to reach the 57-kilo semifinals. A strong first period helped him to a 6-3 win over Italy’s Givi Davidov; he then downed Azerbaijan’s Giorgi Edisherashvili, 4-0, in the quarterfinals, thanks to four push-out points. Gilman dropped that match at the UWW Freestyle World Cup last April.
Gilman’s first loss came in the semifinals Sunday afternoon — and it was lopsided. Kazakhstan’s Nurislam Sanayev led 2-0 after a takedown in the first period, before scoring a big 4-point takedown in the second to blow the match open. Sanayev ultimately won by an 11-0 technical fall.
That dropped Gilman to Monday’s bronze-medal bout against Turkey’s Suleyman Atli. The former Hawkeye led 1-0 after a push-out point in the first period, but Atli rallied with a push-out, a takedown and an exposure turn to lead 5-1. Gilman scored three-straight push-outs to close within 5-4, but couldn’t finish a couple of shots in the final seconds.
Former Northern Iowa wrestler Joe Colon takes third
Gilman wasn’t the only Iowa wrestler in action in Budapest. Joe Colon, a two-time state champion from Clear Lake and former All-American at Iowa Central and Northern Iowa, finished third at 61 kilos. Colon is now the sixth native Iowan to win a medal at the world championships, joining Dan Gable, Barry Davis, Royce Alger, Tolly Thompson and Gilman.
Like Gilman, Colon reached the semifinals over the weekend. He beat Ukraine’s Ivan Bileichuk, 9-6, in his opening match, then rolled to a 10-0 technical fall over Bulgaria’s Vladimir Dubov in the quarters.
In the semifinals, Colon dropped a 9-4 decision to Cuba’s Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez, the eventual world champion, which sent Colon to the bronze medal match. There, he used a takedown and a series of gut wrenches to roll to a 13-2 technical fall over Iran’s Mohammadba Yakhkeshi.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.