Goodwin: Ramos has it figured out


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One of my favorite Tony Ramos stories involves a toy, a pool, and his sheer genius. The story is more telling than it is fascinating, and it reveals something we probably should’ve seen coming all along.

When Ramos was younger, he had a remote-control car. One day, he drove it into a pool. His parents figured the car was no longer usable, but Ramos thought differently.

He pulled the car out of the pool, went into his garage, and dismantled it into what might’ve been a hundred pieces. His dad, Al, walked in, saw all the pieces lying on the ground, and threw them in the trash.

Not long after, Ramos picked every last piece out of the trash can and reassembled the car back into the remote-control toy it once was. To Al’s surprise, the car worked just as it had before.

The story itself is remarkable, if only because it shows how sharp-witted and persistent Ramos was at such a young age. His mother, Deb, first shared that story with me as an example of his natural intuition. “He just figures things out,” she said.

The examples go further than just the remote-control car. Ramos once pulled the chain off a bike because how it contributed to the bike’s operation fascinated him. He also cut the starter rope off his lawn mower because he wanted to figure out that mystery, too.

And, of course, there’s been the ongoing narrative of his wrestling career.

It seems that, over the last seven months or so, Ramos has figured everything out on the mat. I mean that literally. Everything. He’s yet to lose a competitive match during the 2014 calendar year.

He won the 133-pound Big Ten title in March and won his finals bout without scoring a takedown. He won an NCAA title two weeks later by way of a funky scramble-turned-tilt for 2 points in a ride out-or-lose overtime period.

Ramos took some time off after that. He sat and watched the 2014 U.S. Open — the senior-level Freestyle National Championships, held in Las Vegas — with his now-wife, Megan. Before watching the Open, he didn’t know if he’d want to wrestle freestyle this summer.

Megan persuaded him otherwise. Ramos went to Madison, Wisconsin, in late May, and won the U.S. World Team Trials at 57-kilos — roughly 125 pounds.

After winning, Ramos talked with the media, and in the normal Tony Ramos fashion we’ve come to know, he announced himself to both his country and to the rest of the world.

“You see interviews — I see [Sam] Hazewinkel, I see [Nick] Simmons, [Angel] Escobedo. All they ever talk about is winning a medal,” he said then. “They’re satisfied with winning a medal [at the World Championships].

“Do you think if I go overseas, and bring back just bronze or silver, that I’m going to be satisfied? You’re wrong. It’s about winning gold.”

Ramos backed up that claim by winning the 2014 Canada Cup (his first senior-level international event), where he outscored his opponents a combined 29-2.

Winning does a lot of good — so much that it’s easy to forget, just a couple years ago, Ramos seemed so distant from all this success.

Ohio State’s Logan Stieber once stood in Ramos’s way. They wrestled five times — twice at Big Tens, twice at NCAAs, once in a dual — and Stieber won each time. He was the mountain Ramos could not climb.

As long as Stieber wrestled at 133-pounds, many thought Ramos would never win an NCAA title.

Then Stieber moved up to 141, but Ramos still struggled — at least at first. He lost twice before the New Year during the 2013-14 season, which came as a shock to many. Once the calendar turned, he got back to wrestling his way, to being more aggressive and scoring more points.

It’s almost as if Ramos stripped everything down and pieced it back together so he could get back what had worked before.

Come early on Sept. 8, Ramos will get the opportunity to wrestle on the sport’s biggest stage to compete for the wrestling’s biggest prize — the 2014 FILA World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

When it comes to tournaments such as this, it’s more important that you win as opposed to how you win. And if Ramos has shown us anything, it’s that, when all else fails and the odds are against him, he will always figure out a way to win.

Follow @codygoodwin on Twitter for updates, news, and analysis about the Iowa wrestling team.

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