DI Male Athlete of the Year: Tony Ramos

BY CODY GOODWIN | MAY 12, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa’s Tony Ramos is riding a bike in the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. He’s wearing a gray sweatshirt drenched in sweat. His tooth is missing. Again.

It’s a common sight to those who follow Iowa wrestling, a layered-up wrestler peddling away in an attempt to trim a few pounds. But for Ramos, who became Iowa’s 53rd national champion after winning an NCAA title at 133 pounds in March, things have certainly changed.

“It’s been a pretty crazy experience,” he says.

Since he stood atop the podium down in Oklahoma City, Ramos has been busy. He built a website — www.teamramos.co — and is selling Team Ramos gear, including hats similar to the one his brother gave him after he won his NCAA title.

He’s been to some speaking engagements, has received plenty of fan mail, signed with an agent, and has helped out at a few camps. The latest one is where Ramos got his tooth knocked out again (he originally had it fixed after the NCAA wrestling championships). A smaller kid head-butted him, he said.

But perhaps the biggest thing of note is that Ramos is preparing himself for the U.S. World Team Trials, set for May 30-June 1 in Madison, Wis.

That he’s training to make the world team in freestyle wrestling — one of the Olympic styles of wrestling that closely resembles folkstyle — isn’t much of a surprise. What is, though, is his decision to wrestle at 57-kilograms, around 125 pounds.

Ramos was never a huge 133 pounder. He said he normally stepped back on the mat and wrestled at around 136 or 137 pounds. But there were a number of factors that went into his decision to drop down a weight.

“The big decision was that it’s a day before weigh-in,” Ramos said. “So, I have time to recover. I’ll have time to get maybe 15 pounds back in me before I even start wrestling.

“That sounds crazy, but I think I can do it easily.”

This decision, of course, means Ramos will likely be one of the bigger competitors at the weight, something he hasn’t experienced in a while. He never felt undersized while wrestling at 133 pounds, he said, but with his strength, the size will certainly be advantageous for him.

To help further prepare for the World Team Trials, Ramos has been spending even more time in the practice room. He’s been wrestling with associate head coach Terry Brands in the mornings and has practiced with U.S. Open champion and former Hawkeye Brent Metcalf from time to time.

“The last time I wrestled freestyle, competition-wise, would’ve been the Junior World Team Trials in 2011, maybe, or 2010,” Ramos said. “It’s been a long time.”

The transition from folkstyle to freestyle might not be the smoothest, but Ramos figures there isn’t much of a difference between the two styles, save for a few rules that pertain to back exposure.

There’s still time for him to learn those rules. And, like all of the other Iowa wrestlers before him, he knows his objective is simple.

“I have to score more points to win,” Ramos says, peddling away on the bike. “Nothing really changes.”

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