More balanced Ramos 'takes on all comers' for Hawkeye wrestling


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Tony Ramos let himself think big for a moment.

The Hawkeye junior had just pinned his third-straight opponent on Feb. 10, and he wondered just how close he could get to making Hawkeye history.

“I was going to ask what the record was today,” he said. “If I can find that out, I’m trying to get there.”

Sports Information Assistant Director Chris Brewer told Ramos he had a long way to go — the record is 23 pins, and Iowa’s 133-pounder has 9 heading into the postseason.

“I figured,” Ramos said with a grin. “I figured it was pretty hard.”

He won’t set the school pin record this year, but he is leading all Iowa starters in the category. The Carol Stream, Ill., native pinned 10 opponents in his first two seasons combined as a Hawkeye starter. He should pass that number in his third season alone after he spent the off-season working on pins as a perceived shortcoming.

“I worked on it a lot,” he said. “I’ve always been good on my feet, but now I’m scoring from front headlocks, scoring from every position.”

Ramos earned the starting job as a redshirt freshman in large part because of his aggressive, takedown-oriented mindset. He would often score takedowns and then let his opponents up just to do it again.

But once he has someone on the mat this year, he more often tries to keep him there.

“He’s much more balanced, more of a thorough wrestler,” head coach Tom Brands said. “A little more patient, more seasoned maybe. Sometimes, he used to get ahead of himself, and he’s really calmed down and is doing what he does best.”

That seasoning has allowed him to rack up 96 dual team points for Iowa, 18 ahead of second-place Derek St. John. It can be seen in his more advanced choice of moves from the top position. He has pinned opponents with cradles and came close to flattening No. 3 A.J. Schopp with one on Feb. 16.

Last season, Ramos said, he often didn’t feel comfortable and couldn’t finish the move when he had a cradle locked up.

He said his favorite pinning move this year is “whatever’s there.”

“There’s probably a few I’m better at,” the 133-pounder said. “I work on some that I can do in a series, where if one’s not there I go to the next one. There’s definitely a lot of improvement there.”

Iowa heavyweight Bobby Telford said another thing that helps Ramos pin opponents is his ability to wear them down and tire them. Two of his pins have come in the final minute of a match and three deep into the second period.

“It comes from pushing people to their breaking point, making them want to quit,” Telford said. “That’s how most of his pins have come. Not in the first period, but late in the match, just horsing people over.”

Brands said the wrestling program rarely sees a wrestler who, such as Ramos, is eager to face teammates several weight classes heavier in practice. He said Ramos occasionally wants to practice with the 165-pounders.

“He takes on all comers,” Brands said. “I think he is wrestling as well as anybody, and he wrestles to score points. It’s not about a strategy or finding ways to win a close match.

“And because of that, he’s had good results that are noteworthy across the country from a domination point of view.”

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