Junior Hawkeye grappler Ramos keeps rolling on offense


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Tony Ramos knew the wave was coming. He knew it wouldn’t be easy to handle. But he knew, with confidence, that he could stop it dead in its tracks.

Edinboro’s A.J. Schopp was riding one of the nation’s hottest winning-streaks when he walked into Carver-Hawkeye Arena on the night of Feb. 16. The third-ranked 133-pound wrestler held a 14-2 record dating back to Dec. 29, 2012 — of those 14 wins, nine came by pin.

Ramos didn’t care. He lined up and stared down his lanky Fighting Scot opponent just as he has against every other wrestler he’s preyed on this season. Ramos made easy work of Schopp, dominating in all three positions en route to a 9-0 major decision victory. The No. 2 Hawkeyes beat No. 15 Edinboro handily, 31-6.

“I didn’t think it was going to be easy,” second-ranked Ramos said. “But I knew that if I wrestled hard, I could score a lot of points.”

Edinboro’s Schopp was the highest ranked wrestler Ramos has wrestled all year. But his schedule hasn’t been as easy as some observers might believe.

Iowa’s returning 133-pound All-American has wrestled, and beaten, six ranked grapplers this season — three of those have been slotted as potential All-Americans: Oklahoma State’s Jon Morrison, Minnesota’s Chris Dardanes, and his Fighting Scot opponent Feb. 16.

But if beating six ranked wrestlers during a 20-match season doesn’t satisfy certain wrestling observers, then maybe the fact that Ramos has dominated the rest of his opponents will. He’s posted a 20-0 record that’s included just two decisions. The other 18 victories have nine wins by fall, eight by major decision, and another by technical fall.

In essence, the Glenbard North product is doing what champions must do to the kids who are considered easy on their schedule: He dominates them.

“I don’t believe he hasn’t wrestled anybody,” Iowa head wrestling coach Tom Brands said. “He’s taken on every comer. There have been some guys he’s had some pretty good scores against, too.”

The result of this weekend’s match might have distanced the gap between the nation’s top two 133-pounders and the rest of the competing field. The man on top of the rankings — Ohio State’s Logan Stieber — is the returning NCAA champion at the weight, and he topped Ramos three different times last season.

Stieber first beat Ramos in the dual between Iowa and Ohio State on Jan. 20, 2012, by a 7-0 score. Their next match came in the Big Ten championship finals, where the Buckeye prevailed again, 5-2. The third, and last, time the two wrestled was in the NCAA semifinals one year ago, and Stieber won there, too, 4-2.

Ramos has eagerly waited for his rematch with the Monroeville, Ohio, native since the Jan. 4 dual was scheduled. But the matchup was delayed again when Stieber sat out of that match with a leg muscle strain.

The way both grapplers have been wrestling — both Ramos and Stieber have combined for 35 bonus-point victories this season while posting zero losses — has left no doubt as to who the likely national championship favorites are at that weight.

But it also makes their first bout against one another — likely to be in the finals of the Big Ten championships if not in the upcoming National Wrestling Coaches Association National Duals — one highly anticipated match that the whole wrestling community will be glued to.

“If that’s what they say, that’s what they say,” Ramos said. “I’m just going out to wrestle every time. It’s not for me to look at or worry about. I just have to worry about what’s in front of me.”

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