Iowa wrestler Telford not your typical heavyweight


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Iowa's wrestlers often sprint off the mat and into the Carver-Hawkeye Arena locker-room tunnel for a long cool-down period after a match. Some don't return from the locker room before the dual meet ends.

But not Tony Ramos. The sophomore 133-pounder said he makes sure to return in time to watch Iowa's redshirt freshman heavyweight Bobby Telford.

"I always see his match," Ramos said. "It's exciting to watch. The crowd gets happy; we're all happy. It's fun."

Telford has provided a jolt to a weight class typically known for plodding, low-scoring matches. He pinned two of his three opponents in a combined 4:10 at the Iowa City duals on Nov. 25.

But he showed perhaps the most promise during the match in which he didn't record a pin.

Telford continued earning takedowns well into the third period in an impressive 19-3 technical fall victory over Cornell's Carl Gual.

That explosive offensive ability has allowed the redshirt freshman to earn the starting job over returning Big Ten champion Blake Rasing. And if Telford's attacking style makes him look more like a high-scoring lightweight than a typical heavyweight, it's because he used to be one.

As a high-school freshman, he wrestled at 135 pounds and struggled to a losing record. But then he rapidly sprouted into a wide 6-4 frame; by his junior season, the Hockessin, Del., native was a heavyweight only one year removed from wrestling like a lower weight.

He went 80-1 in his last two seasons, winning a pair of state heavyweight titles.

Ramos said Telford wrestles "like a little guy." Telford said moving up seven weight classes didn't force him to change his wrestling style, and he brings a lower weight's attacking mentality to the mat.

"People say the [high-school] 103 weight class and the heavyweight class don't wrestle the same, and they have different tactics. But that's just not how I've wrestled," he said. "I'm not going to change my style just because I'm at a bigger weight class."

Head coach Tom Brands praised Telford's attitude in practice.

"It's refreshing to see how he comes to work every day," Brands said. "You challenge him, and it's like, 'Is that all you've got?' You keep piling it on, and he keeps responding."

Ramos traveled with Telford to Germany for the Junior Freestyle World Cup in May. He came away impressed with Telford's mindset after the heavyweight went 3-1.

"He's very competitive," Ramos said. "He doesn't care if you're a Big Ten champ like Rasing; he doesn't care who you are. He's going to go out there and [say], 'I'm Bobby Telford. I'm going to win this match.' "

Telford has beaten Rasing twice this season — in wrestle-offs and in the championship of the Lindenwood Open on Nov. 19. That, plus his impressive performance at the Iowa City Duals, has firmly entrenched him as Iowa's starter. But Telford said that doesn't mean he'll slow down.

"I think my advantage is with my higher pace," he said. "Not sticking around and waiting for something to happen but making things happen."

Follow DI wrestling reporter Sam Louwagie on Twitter.

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