Ramos says best is still to come

BY DANNY PAYNE | JUNE 18, 2014 5:00 AM

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Brent Metcalf was watching something he knew was possible, he just hadn’t seen it happen when it mattered. The former Iowa 149-pounder knew Tony Ramos could put things together and wrestle at the high level he did at the freestyle World Team Trials in late May.

Ramos wrestled his way to the challenge tournament championship at 57 kilograms and beat Nico Megaludis of Penn State and earned the right to face 2014 U.S. Open Champion Sam Hazewinkel.

“Refreshing was the word,” said Metcalf, who won the World Team Trials at 65 kilos. “It was refreshing to see Ramos wrestle that way … it was probably the best wrestling we’ve seen out of him in a year and a half, and we had started to see it here in the room more.

“But you still weren’t sure which guy was going to show up. The guy who we’d been watching for a long time here that showed up — a guy with a lot of offense, great counterattacks, and extremely stingy with his defense.”

It wasn’t the Ramos who wrestled with a somewhat guarded style at the NCAA championships roughly two months before; it was a wrestler who put on a defensive clinic, shutting out Angel Escobedo and one of the most, if not the most, flexible college wrestler in Megaludis. The 133-pound NCAA champion blanked Hazewinkel in the first match of the best-of-three finals.

Some of that can be attributed to talent alone, but for Iowa associate head coach Terry Brands — who was in Ramos’ corner at the trials — it was because of Ramos’ confidence.

“Somebody who is as stubborn as he is with his way of thinking, and he knows that he’s the best guy at the weight,” Brands said. “He really, genuinely believes that. He doesn’t just believe it, he knows that … that’s very powerful when he has that kind of belief in himself.”

That power personified itself both on the mat in Madison, Wis. and off it as well. After a match, the ever-confident Ramos told members of the media that he’s not competing to medal, he’s competing to win gold when the United States heads to Uzbekistan in September.

So what will it take for Ramos to do that task in a few months? He said he’s not going to make any major changes. He’ll attend camps and training sessions with the team before September and enjoy getting married to former Iowa volleyball standout Megan Eskew in July.

Once all of that is done, and it comes time to compete again, he said his fans won’t see the NCAA Tournament Ramos or the World Team Trials Ramos. They’ll see another level of wrestling.

“I think there’s more that I kind of left out there,” he said. “I think the scores could have been wider gaps, and I think I could’ve done a few more things to even break matches open more.

“I feel like I’m headed in the right direction, but I’m not at my best yet. There’s still more to come.”

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