A focused Thomas Gilman doesn’t celebrate too much, not yet at least. He’s more focused on bigger goals ahead — on making the world team, winning a world title.
On Sunday, the former Iowa wrestler took a giant step in that direction.
Gilman won the world team trials on Sunday in Raleigh, North Carolina. Competing at 57 kilograms (125 pounds), he swept Darian Cruz, a 2015 NCAA champion for Lehigh, in a best-of-three series to advance to Final X, the last stage of USA Wrestling’s world team trials process.
In doing so, Gilman will face Oklahoma State star Daton Fix, a 2019 NCAA finalist and multiple age-level world medalist, in another best-of-three series on June 15 in Lincoln, Nebraska. The winner will compete in September at the world championships in Kazakhstan.
A native of Council Bluffs, Gilman is now just two wins away from his third world team. He reached the finals of the world championships in 2017, then lost in the bronze-medal match a year ago. That experienced came in handy over the weekend.
Gilman wrestled just three times this weekend, but turned in workmanlike performances in all of them. On Saturday, he defeated former Cornell wrestler Frank Perrelli, 10-0. On Sunday, he beat Cruz by scores of 4-0 and 5-2. In all three, he displayed stingy defense and timely offense.
Now, Gilman must get revenge against Fix, who beat Gilman 8-4 in the finals of the U.S. Open last month. Gilman has proven he can — he defeated Fix at last year’s Final X — but Fix is much tougher now after experiencing an entire collegiate wrestling season.
The mission for Gilman hasn’t changed. He wants to be the best in the world. That’s been his goal since he first arrived at Iowa, and that’s remained his goal even after coming so close a couple years ago. It’s why, after winning this weekend, he didn’t celebrate much, if at all.
Because this weekend was only one step toward his ultimate goal.
► MORE WRESTLING COVERAGE FROM THE DES MOINES REGISTER
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- Iowa Wesleyan to add men's, women's wrestling programs
Kyven Gadson advances to Final X
Kyven Gadson will join Gilman in Lincoln next month after winning the world team trials on Sunday inside Reynolds Coliseum.
Gadson, a former Iowa State wrestler, swept Ty Walz in the best-of-three series at 97 kilograms (213 pounds). He won by scores of 3-2 and 3-0, performances that helped him advance to Final X.
A monumental task now stands before Gadson again. The Waterloo native is making his second-straight appearance to Final X, where he’ll wrestle Kyle Snyder, a three-time world and Olympic champion and the reigning world silver medalist, for the right to go to Kazakhstan.
Gadson, of course, pinned Snyder in the 2015 NCAA finals, but Snyder has bested Gadson at every turn since. At last year’s Final X, Snyder swept Gadson by scores of 9-0 and 10-2. The year before that, Snyder swept Gadson again by scores of 10-0 and 13-2 at the world team trials.
It will take a tremendous effort for Gadson to defeat Snyder, but winning this weekend put himself in a position to at least give him a chance.
Louive wins all-HWC women’s final
There will be at least one Hawkeye Wrestling Club member on the women’s freestyle world team this summer.
Last month, Alli Ragan won the U.S. Open at 59 kilograms (130 pounds) to ensure her spot at Final X next month. This past weekend in Raleigh, two of her Hawkeye Wrestling Club teammates wrestled to decide who would advance to face her.
Ultimately, Lauren Louive bested Michaela Beck, two matches to one, to win the world team trials at 59 kilograms. Beck won the first match 8-3 but Louive fought back, winning the second match 4-4 on criteria, and then taking the third, 5-4.
Louive advances to wrestle Ragan at Final X. Beck, of course, still has the Junior world championships to look forward to this summer. But it’s impressive nonetheless that the majority of the country’s best 59-kilogram women’s wrestlers reside in Iowa City.
Miracle also advances: Another Hawkeye Wrestling Club member, Kayla Miracle, won the world team trials and advanced to Final X. Miracle swept the finals series over Desiree Zavala at 62 kilograms (136 pounds), winning the first match by fall and the second by a 10-0 technical fall. She will wrestle Mallory Velte, a returning world bronze medalist, next month for the right to go to the world championships.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.