Gilman without pressure at FILA Junior Trials

BY CODY GOODWIN | JUNE 21, 2013 5:00 AM

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Iowa’s associate head wrestling coach Terry Brands sent a message to the contingent of wrestlers who came to practice Tuesday afternoon. It was a speech, of sorts, encouraging the grapplers to begin their legacies in the Hawkeye practice room and to carry that intensity into their live performances.

He raised his voice while talking — using plenty of gestures, perhaps to help hold their attention — and spoke of how making a World Team should be a goal of everybody’s.

“It’s another step to becoming great,” Brands said. “And I’m looking at you” —here, Brands began pointing out specific wrestlers in the room — “and you, and you. Make yourself better, and take another step to making a team this weekend.”

One of those wrestlers was Thomas Gilman, an Iowa sophomore to be who will compete at 55 kilograms this weekend at the FILA Junior World Team Trials.

For Gilman, this weekend is about redemption. The native of Council Bluffs was a single point away from being in the best two of three final series at the same weight that decided who would represent the United States at the FILA Junior World Championships.

“I feel like I have some unfinished business from last year,” Gilman said. “I was in the finals of the mini-tournament, and it didn’t end up how I wanted.”

This year is different, though. Gilman has snagged a spot in this year’s best two of three series, thanks to his FILA Junior National Championship in April. He’s just two wins away from earning the red, white, and blue singlet to sport in Sofia, Bulgaria, for the world championships.

This is a spot that typically would bring a lot of pressure to a wrestler — Gilman must wait for the Challenge Tournament to finish before he steps on the mat for live competition. But in this position, on this stage, Gilman doesn’t feel that way.

“It’s fun to just go out there and wrestle,” he said. “There’s no outside pressure for performance — well, there is, but there isn’t … it’s fun, in the summertime, to just go out there and let it all hang loose.

“I’m expecting to go out there, get fired up, score a lot of points, and win this tournament in two matches.”

Follow DI wrestling reporter Cody Goodwin on Twitter for updates from the 2013 U.S. World Team Trials.

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